National Day for Truth and Reconciliation: Best practices for retailers, provincial guidance

To honour First Nations, Inuit, and Métis residential school survivors and their families, the Government of Canada has designated September 30 annually as National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The new statutory holiday applies to all federally regulated public and private sectors, including airports and airlines, banks, federal crown corporations such as Canada Post, radio and television broadcasting; and telecommunications such as telephone and Internet services.

While statutory holidays are traditionally honoured Canada-wide, each provincial and territorial legislature needs to formally recognize the day for it to apply to private businesses. As of August 2022, the Northwest Territories is the only jurisdiction where the statutory holiday impacts retail operations.

Many recognize this period of Canada’s history and observe its lasting impact. From conversations with RCC members, many businesses and organizations will be honouring the day through internal and external messaging and staff education.

Below is a Canadian breakdown of regional restrictions, best practices, and ongoing discussions about the expansion of the day as a statutory holiday by provincial and territorial governments.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

The Government of Alberta has not declared National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a provincial statutory holiday and there are no legislated requirements for retailers or restaurants. However, schools will be closed and most cities and towns in Alberta, including Calgary and Edmonton, as they also observe September 30 as a holiday for municipal employees.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Provincial and local government offices and services are closed; schools are closed; and, some businesses will voluntarily close for the holiday in the province. As of 2022, Truth and Reconciliation Day is not a statutory holiday, though government is consulting as to whether to make it one in 2023.

UPDATED: September 6, 2022

While the Government of Manitoba previously indicated that it hoped a statutory day in recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation could be in place by September 30, 2022, its been determined that there isn’t enough time to properly introduce legislation, proclaim it, and provide adequate notice with the house returning September 28, 2022. RCC has been advised that the government plans to take the extra time and consult on their plans, with the intent to introduce legislation for a Day for Truth and Reconciliation during Spring 2023 legislative.

Currently, its anticipated that schools, daycares, non-essential government services and offices, and an increasing number of private offices will close on September 30, 2022 in observance of this day.

UPDATED: September 22, 2022

The New Brunswick government did not plan on recognizing National Day for Truth and Reconciliation but changed course on September 22, 2022.

New Brunswick will now recognize this day as a provincial holiday but the holiday is optional for the private sector. Businesses can open and do not have to pay time and a half. See press release.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Provincial government offices and schools will be closed in honour of this day while businesses will have the choice to remain open.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Truth and Reconciliation Day is a statutory holiday in the Northwest Territories, beginning in 2022. Government has amended the Employment Standards Act (Act) to add the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to the list of statutory holidays, to be observed on September 30 annually, beginning in 2022. As with other statutory holidays in NWT, retailers can be open as long as they pay their employees according to labour laws.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Provincial government offices and schools will be closed in honour of this day while businesses will have the choice to remain open.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Truth and Reconciliation day is not a statutory holiday in Nunavut. Government is looking to introduce new legislation to make September 30 an official holiday in Nunavut, and is consulting with businesses and other organizations.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Ontario has two pieces of ‘holiday’ legislation that should be of interest to retailers – the Retail Holiday Act and the Employment Standards Act (ESA). The Retail Holiday Act controls which retail establishments may or may not open their doors on a given holiday (and grants the municipality the right to allow opening). The ESA provides statutory holiday for a list of designated “public holidays,” and prescribes the rules of public holiday pay, etc.

The Ontario government has made it clear that National Day for Truth and Reconciliation will not be recognized by either the Retail Holiday Act or the ESA, meaning it has no legal impact on a head office or retail establishment for retailers.

The province will also not be giving public sector employees the day off.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

The PEI government has recognized the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday. However, this day is not listed in the Retail Business Holidays Act thus, retail does not have to close.  Retail that opens on this day must pay employees according to the law.

National Truth & Reconciliation Day is not a statutory holiday in Quebec and, therefore, retailers and restaurants do not face any special requirements on September 30.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

The Government of Saskatchewan has proclaimed September 30 as the Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and has encouraged special ceremonies, events, and the wearing of orange ribbons. There remains no special pay or operational requirements for retailers or restaurants tied to this special day for 2022.

While last year schools and government offices remained open, this year its expected schools may be closed, joining some non-essential government offices.

UPDATED: August 15, 2022

Truth and Reconciliation day is not a statutory holiday in the Yukon. The Government of Yukon is considering creating a new general holiday for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and will release a report later in 2022 following stakeholder engagement.

Related Resources

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The Government of Canada’s official webpage on National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Commemorative promotional resources

To commemorate events like the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Government of Canada is offering a number of free promotional resources for public use.

National Orange Shirt Day

September 30 is recognized nationwide as Orange Shirt Day. Learn more about the Indigenous-led grassroots commemorative day through this Government of Canada resource.

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