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Thanksgiving: for most Nova Scotia workers it’s not a paid Holiday

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – This year, with risk of Covid-19 , we are not supposed to have a big dinner on Thanksgiving  and invite our extended family. Public health asks us to be sensible and confine our special holiday dinner to only those who live under our own roof. 

However, Monday is not a paid holiday for many workers in Nova Scotia. That is because  for employees, who are not union members, Thanksgiving is not one of the six annual “general holidays”.  

If you work in hospitality, in a restaurant, a gas station, a bar, a convenience store or a small grocery store – for example – you may well have to work on Thanksgiving Day.  And if you do work, there is no extra pay, no premium pay. 

Thanksgiving, while not a general holiday, is a retail closing day in Nova Scotia. Most retail shops and services, including large grocery or drug stores, must close on Monday.  Employees will get the day off – but they will not be paid for the holiday.  

Another issue is this: If you do work in a place permitted to be open (the list is here and it’s long:  –see p. 20), you do not have the right to refuse to work on Thanksgiving Day. And if you work, you will have to work for regular pay, not holiday pay.  

In Nova Scotia, unionized workers usually get a paid holiday on Thanksgiving Day.  For the non-unionized, expect a cut to your pay of 20% this week — yet you will likely get Monday off work. 

Judy Haiven is on the steering committee of Equity Watch, an organization that fights discrimination, bullying and racism in the workplace.  Contact her at equitywatchns@gmail.com

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