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Getting paid on Heritage Day, the loophole holiday

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – The Nova Scotia “Heritage day” holiday will be on Mon. Feb. 17.  This year, it  commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Africville apology, and honours the National Historic Site of the African Nova Scotian community. 

In Nova Scotia, it could be a paid day off work.  At least for some of you.

Heritage Day is one of the six paid holidays days each year. In addition there is Remembrance Day, which has its own rather restrictive act. Nova Scotia has one of the lowest number of paid holidays, or what some call “statutory holidays”, in Canada. For example, New Brunswick has eight, and PEI has seven paid holidays.  However Quebec has eight, and Ontario and Saskatchewan boast ten.

In Nova Scotia, Heritage Day means most stores and offices must be closed.  To receive pay for the day off, you have to have earned pay at your job for at least 15 of the last 30 days.  You also must have worked your shift right before the holiday, and your shift after the holiday. By law, most coffee shops, confectionary stores, gas stations, hotels, and small drug stores are allowed to remain open. 

So when you have a coffee at  Tim’s or  Starbucks on Monday, you should know that the employees who serve you will probably be those who have worked there fewer than 15 of the last 30 days.  That way the employers do not have to give them the day off with pay.  In fact, workers on Heritage Day will likely receive their regular pay (no bonus) for working on the holiday.

If you don’t like not being paid what you’re owed, think about organizing a union at your workplace. Then the union can negotiate Heritage Day to be a paid holiday for everyone. Ask me how.

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, a Halifax-based organization which fights bullying, racism and discrimination in the workplace. You can reach her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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