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Federal Government Follows Through on TRC Commitment With New Federal Holiday

By Ryley Mennie + Lou Poskitt - August 27, 2018 under First Nations, MT+Co.

We are coming up on three years since the Government of Canada received the final report from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (“TRC”) on December 15, 2015, and committed to implementing all 94 of the TRC’s Calls to Action (later reduced to 76 when the federal government determined that was the number within exclusive or shared federal authority).  Of the 76 Calls to Action it has committed to, the Government has implemented four, with the most recent being Call to Action Number 80:

  1. We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, to establish, as a statutory holiday, a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation to honour Survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process.

The Federal Government announced on August 15, 2018, that it would back a private member’s bill introduced by NDP Saskatchewan MP, Georgina Jolibois, on June 15, 2017, to implement Call to Action Number 80, though it was not set on the suggested date of June 21. The Federal Government has stated its commitment to consult with Indigenous peoples on the date, naming and framing of the federal holiday.

What does this mean for your business? Unless you are federally-regulated employer (for example, an Indian Band under the Indian Act, a bank, airline or inter-provincial/international transportation, delivery or shipping entity), or have a collective agreement that recognizes federal statutory holidays, currently not much. The majority of BC’s (and other provinces’) employers are provincially-regulated, including many employers that are closely affiliated with Indigenous Nations, and are not technically required to provide federal statutory holidays to their employees. It is, however, open to provincially-regulated employers to recognize a new federal statutory holiday, if they so wish.

It is unclear whether BC, or any province, will take steps to recognize the federal holiday provincially, leaving its true impact on this aspect of the process of reconciliation for numerous Indigenous persons working in provincially-regulated workplaces in question.

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