Queen’s Funeral Should Not Impact Provincial Employers in Alberta

The Federal Government has not declared a Federal Holiday for Monday, September 19, 2022, which is the day of the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. Instead, Prime Minister Trudeau has announced that federal government employees will enjoy the day off.

Because this is not a federal holiday, workers in federal industries (like banks and airlines) will be expected to attend work unless their employers decide otherwise.

The absence of a federal holiday will also relieve some provincially-regulated employers who may be obligated to recognize federal holidays. Holidays for provincial employers are set by the provincial legislatures. However, some unionized employers have collective agreements that require them to recognize new holidays declared by the federal and provincial (and even municipal) holidays, even if the employer is not federally regulated.

For example, last year Parliament made the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a federal holiday. While this did not directly impact most provincially regulated employers unless their province also adopted the holiday, those with collective agreements recognizing federal holidays could be bound by a federal holiday, depending on the collective agreement language. One such case was AUPE, v Alberta Health Services. There, the collective agreement provided that “all general holidays proclaimed by the municipality or the Government of Alberta or Canada” would be treated as holidays. The arbitrator ruled the employer was bound to treat it as a federal holiday.

Because Parliament has not created a new federal holiday, provincially-regulated employers will look to their provincial legislatures to determine any holiday requirements. Most provinces and territories are not treating the day as a holiday for private sector employers, though some are treating it as a holiday for the public sector. In Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec, September 19, 2022 is not being recognized as a holiday for any employers. Some provinces, like Alberta and Ontario, are treating it as a day of mourning.

Where not recognized by a province or territory, provincially and federally regulated employers in these jurisdictions are not required to provide time off for September 19. However, this situation does serve as a reminder for any employer bound by a collective agreement. These employers should take the time to give close reading of their collective agreement in order to determine their responsibilities where holidays are declared.

Here is a summary of how September 19 is being treated across the country:

Alberta: Day of mourning, not a holiday.

BC: K-12 public schools, public post-secondary institutions, and most Crown corporations will be closed; it is a day of mourning and not a holiday for private sector employers.

Manitoba: Day of mourning; Non-essential government services will be closed; Not a holiday for schools, childcare facilities, healthcare services, and private sector employers.

Newfoundland and Labrador: Provincial government offices, schools, and other public entities will be closed to honour the memory of the Queen; Not a holiday for private sector employers.

New Brunswick: Holiday for public sector; Provincial government offices, public schools, and regulated child care facilities will be closed; Not a holiday for the private sector.

Nova Scotia: Holiday for the public sector; Not a holiday for the private sector; Businesses have the option to remain open.

Ontario: Day of mourning, not a holiday.

PEI: Holiday for all employers.

Quebec: Not a holiday.

Saskatchewan: Day of tribute, not a holiday.

Northwest Territories: Not a holiday.

Nunavut: Government offices and agencies will be closed; Not a holiday for private sector employers.

Yukon Territory: National Day of Mourning a one-time holiday for the public sector; K-12 public schools and other public services will be closed; Not a holiday for private sector employers.

Federal Government: Holiday for government employees, but not for federally regulated employers.