Monday, February 14, 2011

Ontario Family Day. Seriously, what’s all the confusion about?

Following the Ontario election of 2007, the Ontario Liberal government introduced Family Day as Ontario’s ninth provincial holiday adding to the pre-existing holidays of New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Alberta and Saskatchewan also celebrate Family Day. Under a different name, Manitoba celebrates Louis Riel Day and PEI celebrates Island Day on the same third Monday of February each year. It is a school board holiday, in Newfoundland but not an official provincial holiday.

The third Monday of February is a regular working day in British Columbia, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the territories. To confuse matters further, Family Day is not recognized in any province by the federal government of Canada.

The provincial Employment Standards Act and provincial governments do not have the jurisdictional authority over labour laws affecting people who work within federally regulated industries. The federal government of Canada retains authority over employment laws applicable to chartered banks, the post office, inter-provincial trucking, airlines, railways, broadcast communications companies, shipping firms and telephone companies.

Ironically, the Family Day holiday continues to cause great confusion in the National Capital Region and the Ontario Premier’s own provincial home riding of Ottawa South where a significant percentage of the riding’s population are employed by the federal government of Canada and other federally regulated industries. Notwithstanding all the hoopla made by McGuinty propagandists about the importance of a new Family Day holiday, many of those who elected the Premier are not eligible to take advantage of the day off with pay.

Greater disappointment and confusion arises, when two working parents are employed within different industries. A parent employed within the federal government is required to work while children are given the day off by provincially run schools and spouses are home because most private sector businesses are closed.

Even further confusion arises for the thousands of Ontarians living near the Quebec border who are employed by Quebec based companies. They are not permitted the day off because it is not a Quebec holiday. Conversely, Quebec residents who are employed by Ontario based companies are given the day off with pay but they sit home without kids and spouse as Quebec schools and business remain open. This all seems to take the “Family” out of the Family Day, doesn’t it?

If you are not confused enough, the temporary staffing industry and other provincially regulated businesses that provide services to the federal government are required to give their workers a day off with pay while the federal government users of these services are all at the office. Imagine two-hundred thousand federal government employees aghast by having to make their own coffee, fix their own printer, answer their own phones and type their own memos.

In one recently leaked, misguided and then retracted missive, a federal government employee actually claimed to have the authority to over-rule provincial employment standards, commanding their provincially regulated service providers to attend work and denounced the prescribed laws which guarantee time & one half pay. Thankfully, that memo has been deep-sixed.

Imagine a situation where an employee is a resident of Quebec, working for an Ontario based provincially regulated employer that provides services to the federal government of Canada at a service site located in Hull Quebec. The rules are clear. The worker is entitled to a day off with pay. Why is that not obvious?

Would you like to know the Ontario government’s prescribed method to calculate the amount of public holiday pay? Let’s leave that for another blog on St. Jean Baptiste Day or Remembrance Day when everything will be clear as mud.

For greater clarity, you can find out more about Ontario Public Holidays and the Employment Standards Act at

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This would be far more helpful of an article if it weren't for the arrogant editorial voice of the author. Unobjective expertise is just noise

Then again, judging by the size of this site's top banner, this is a man who believes arrogance to be what "gets you in the big leagues".