The Canadian government recently approved Bill C-5, which introduces a new federal holiday called the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to commemorate the victims and survivors of the indigenous residential schools. The new federal holiday will be observed on 30 September of each year, with the first holiday being on 30 September 2021.
Bill C-5 received royal assent on 3 June 2021, and is expected to enter into effect on 3 August 2021.
Bill C-5 was introduced as a response to the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRCC) which:
- Denounced the injustices and abuse perpetrated on First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis (aboriginal) Nation children in residential schools in the 1800s and the 1900s and,
- Urged the federal government to commemorate their history and legacy.
The bill was fast-tracked after the remains of 215 children buried in unmarked graves were found on the site of a former residential school in British Colombia. The bill states that its goal is to “honor First Nations, Inuit, and Métis survivors and their families, as well as their communities, and to ensure that public commemoration of their history and the legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.”
Bill C-5 amends the Canada Labour Code to create a new federal holiday that applies to employees working in the federal government and in federally regulated workplaces which include, among others, banks, air transportation, railways and telecommunications.
When the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation falls on a Sunday or a Saturday that is a non-working day, the employee is entitled to a holiday with pay on the working day immediately preceding or following the holiday.