New Statutory Holiday for Ontario; New Costs for Employers, by George Waggott


One of the first acts of Ontario's newly re-elected McGuinty government last fall was to add Family Day

as a new statutory holiday under the Employment Standards Act. As a result, some – but not all – workers in Ontario will have an additional day off with pay on the third Monday of each February, starting with February 18, 2008.

While the government's purpose in making this change was to give people more time with their families, the move represents a significant expense to many employers, with some estimating Ontario's aggregate business costs to range from $500 million to $2 billion. The City of Toronto has reportedly increased payroll by $2.3 million as a result. And while this follows through on the Liberal Party's

election platform, some feel the proposal did not receive significant discussion at the election campaign or public consultation levels.

Employers will need to examine this regulatory change and how it relates to their holiday policy and/or their collective agreements for unionized groups, because providing this day as a paid holiday is not an automatic requirement. For instance, where the employer already provides employees with a greater right or benefit, they are not required to give employees Family Day off. While there are now nine public holidays in Ontario, some employees may already be receiving additional holidays not listed in the Employment Standards Act, such as Easter Monday and Civic Holiday in August.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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