Short Answer: September 30 Holiday In Ontario
No, the September 30 holiday is not recognized in Ontario. The September 30 holiday was created by the Federal Government but the Ontario Government chose not to follow it. Thus, the September 30 holiday only applies to rare Ontario workplaces regulated by the federal government (i.e., banks) and those workplaces that voluntarily choose to recognize the holiday.
Long Answer: No September 30 Holiday In Ontario
In 2021, the federal government created a new statutory holiday to mark a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to be observed on September 30th every year. It is a statutory holiday, meaning workers who get the holiday get the day off with pay.
However, some people might be surprised to learn that despite the September 30 holiday being passed by the Government of Canada, it does not apply to most Ontario workplaces.
Canada’s Constitution separates the powers of the federal government and the provinces. For example, as per Canada’s Constitution, only provinces have the power to dictate education policy in their respective provinces, while only the federal government has the power to dictate criminal law across the land. There are various other different things the federal government and the provincial government can and cannot do, but it is important to keep in mind that their powers are separated by our Constitution.
Importantly, the Constitution gives the province the power to make employment laws for most workers in Ontario and the federal government the power to make employment laws for a minority of special workers in Ontario. In this way, the Ontario government runs legislation called the Employment Standards Act, which is employment law standards for Ontario workers, while the Federal Government runs the Canada Labour Code, which is employment law standards for rare federal workers.
Regarding workplace holidays, the Constitution gives the province of Ontario the power to make holidays for most Ontario workers (i.e., holidays recognized by the Ontario Employment Standards Act), while it gives the federal government the power to make holidays only for a select few rare workplaces which fall under the purview of federal law (i.e., holidays recognized by the Canada Labour Code).
Constitutional Law Tip: A federal holiday does not apply to provincial workplaces in Ontario. At the same time, an Ontario government holiday does not apply to federal workplaces in Ontario.
Accordingly, the only Ontario workplaces where a federal holiday applies to are Government of Canada workplaces like the post office and those other workplaces regulated by the federal government’s Canada Labour Code such as air transportation, railways and banks. All other Ontario workplaces do not get a federal holiday unless explicitly recognized by the provincial government.
This leads us to the following: The new September 30 holiday is a Canada Labour Code holiday, not an Employment Standards Act holiday. Ontario did not recognize the holiday. Therefore, the September 30 holiday does not apply to Ontario workers unless they are special and rare workers regulated by the federal government. In other words, September 30 is not a holiday in Ontario unless you work at a bank or an airline (for example) or if your employer voluntarily recognizes it.
It is not unprecedented that federal holidays are not followed in Ontario and vice versa. For example, Family Day is a government of Ontario statutory holiday, not a federal holiday, and it only applies to Ontario regulated workplaces. The federal government does not recognize it. Likewise, Remembrance Day is a federal holiday that federal workers in Ontario get to take off, but all other employees in Ontario (which is the vast majority of Ontario workers) do not get a holiday on Remembrance Day because it is not a holiday recognized by the provincial government.
The September 30, 2021, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is a holiday to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools in Canada. It fulfils the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Call to Action #80: “to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Jeff is an employment lawyer in Toronto. He is the Principal of the Dutton Employment Law Group at Monkhouse Law. Jeff is a frequent lecturer on employment law and is the author of an employment law textbook and various trade journal articles.