On December 12, 2013, the new Nova Scotia Liberal government fulfilled a campaign promise by passing legislation to create a statutory holiday on the third Monday in February.  To ensure that businesses have time to administratively prepare for this expense, the holiday, will not take effect until 2015.  Please note the government press release below.

Retail Council of Canada (RCC) spoke against the timing of this bill and reminded the government that it is industry that pays the bulk of the costs involved in giving people a day off.  Given the ongoing economic challenges in Nova Scotia, RCC expressed disappointment that adding a February holiday became one of the new Liberal government’s top priorities as they began their first legislative sessions as the government.  RCC asked the government to at least wait until the economy improves before considering the introduction of a statutory holiday.

Member To-Do:

Please contact RCC’s Atlantic Director, should you wish to discuss.

What RCC Did / Next Steps:

RCC presented to the Nova Scotia Legislature’s Law Amendments Committee on this issue and spoke of the cost to NS retail businesses in adding another paid holiday to the province.

RCC recognized that most people enjoy a day off but focused its opposition on the fact that employers have to pay for this day off.

RCC also noted that a February statutory holiday would create administrative red tape issues for chain retailers.  These retailers prefer government decisions that are harmonized at least on a regional basis.  Nova Scotia’s passage of this bill means that it joins Prince Edward Island as the only provinces east of Ontario, to have a February holiday.

Background:

This will give Nova Scotians six statutory holidays per year, which is in line with a majority of provinces in Canada.

Hon. Kelly Regan, Nova Scotia’s Labour Minister introduced the bill on December 5, 2013.  The bill quickly went to the Law Amendments Committee on December 9, 2013.  RCC presented to the Law Amendment Committee and spoke out against the timing of adding another statutory holiday to a province already dealing with economic challenges.

On an annual basis over the past eight years, Liberal MLA Diana Whalen introduced a private members bill calling for a statutory holiday in February.  RCC consistently opposed this proposal due to the cost to retailers and the state of the Nova Scotia economy.

During this Fall’s Nova Scotia provincial election, the Liberal Party included the creation of a February holiday in their campaign platform. 

The Liberal Party won the election in October 2013, with a strong majority in the House of Assembly.  Given the government’s majority in the House of Assembly, combined with the fact that the creation of a February holiday was a campaign promise and the fact that Ms. Whalen is now the Deputy Premier, it was a certainty that the bill would pass.  Therefore, the passage of the bill came as no surprise to industry associations in Nova Scotia.

The holiday will be named in 2014, following consultations with school children.

Retailers will have a year to prepare for the statutory holiday, beginning in 2015.

While RCC is disappointed with this government decision, the bill did pass at the same time as a bill that made positive revisions to First Contract Arbitration in the province.  The amendments to First Contract Arbitration were vitally important to RCC members, thus these government actions are at least showing a more balanced approach to labour issues than the previous government.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact Jim Cormier at jcormier@retailcouncil.org or (902) 422-4144