Why Sept 19 is not a holiday for most of us

As a tribute to the Queen’s passing  – only government workers will be paid for the holiday Sept. 19.  It was just announced that the federal government will give all its employees a day off with pay.

Another non-holiday is dangled before us in Nova Scotia.

If you work directly for the province, you will get the day off with pay.

If you work in the public school system, schools will be closed and you’ll likely get the day off with pay.

If you work for a provincially mandated daycare centre, it will be closed, but there is no guarantee you’ll be paid. That means next week you’re pay will likely be 4/5 of a normal week’s income. But you do get a day off.

In NS’s wider world of work in the public and the private sectors–

  • If you work at a credit union, a bakery, a supermarket, a drug store, in retail, at a mall, at a newspaper, a restaurant, a university, a bar, a museum, a tourist attraction, a hardware store, a dental or medical office, or city/town hall –there is (at the time of this posting) no mandated day off to watch the Queen’s funeral.
  • In fact, given this is the height of the tourist season, and many businesses are short-staffed, it’s pretty well guaranteed your boss won’t be closing the business to allow you to have day off work.

Sept 19 – a “teaser” of a holiday

Sept 19 is a teaser of a holiday. According to NS Labour Standards, Sept. 19 will be a one-off holiday and won’t be repeated.  Only if the owner or boss chooses to close and give you a day off will it be a holiday.  And of course – you will not be paid for the day the business closes unless the boss wants to pay you.  That’s unlikely.

NS has only 6 paid public holidays a year!

NS has one of the lowest minimum wages in Canada –$13.35 per hour. Minimum wage is about 57% of the 2022 Living Wage ($23.50/hr in Halifax) .   We also are among the provinces with the lowest number of paid public or statutory holidays – we have only six per year.  It’s estimated that every statutory holiday (such as Christmas Day) for workers across Canada, costs employers $2-$4 billion, so you can see why business and service owners and operators are not keen to give you a day off with pay.

Dressage, 1988 by Charles Pachter

To add insult to injury in NS, Thanksgiving, celebrated on Oct. 10, is also not a paid public holiday.  It is a store closing day, which means stores and businesses must close.  But even if you get the day off work, there is no provision for you to be paid. If you get the day off with pay, you should probably thank your union for negotiating it.

These are all things to consider when you are scrambling for care for your children for next Monday—when you must go to work, and they get to stay home.

Featured Image: Love Pat (2005), by Canadian artist Charles Pachter. This is part of his series of the Queen and a Canadian moose. Here is more about him and his art. Charles was one of my favourite teachers at religious school in Toronto, 50+ years ago!

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