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Vacation and Leave Policies

Understand the regulations on vacation and other types of leave in Canada

Holiday leave

In Canada, the entitlements for vacation leave are governed by a combination of federal, provincial, and territorial labor laws.

Federal Regulations

Employees in federally regulated industries such as banking, telecommunications, and interprovincial transportation are subject to the Canada Labour Code. Typically, these employees are entitled to a minimum of two weeks of paid vacation each year after their first year of employment. After five years of continuous service with the same employer, this entitlement increases to three weeks.

Provincial and Territorial Regulations

The Employment Standards Act (or a similar act) in each province and territory sets the vacation entitlements for workers who are not covered by the federal code. Here's a brief overview:

  • Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Yukon: 2 weeks after 1 year of employment, 3 weeks after 5 years.
  • Quebec: 2 weeks after 1 year of employment, 3 weeks after 3 years.
  • Saskatchewan: 3 weeks after 1 year of employment.


Employees are entitled to receive vacation pay during their vacation periods. This pay is typically calculated as a percentage of their earnings, often at least 4% of gross wages.

Public holidays

Canada celebrates a variety of national holidays, as well as holidays that vary by province or territory.

National Holidays

Canada's national holidays include:

  • New Year's Day (January 1st)
  • Good Friday (March/April) - The exact date changes each year.
  • Victoria Day (Monday preceding May 25th)
  • Canada Day (July 1st)
  • Labour Day (First Monday of September)
  • National Day for Truth and Reconciliation (September 30th)
  • Remembrance Day (November 11th)
  • Christmas Day (December 25th)
  • Boxing Day (December 26th)

Provincial and Territorial Variations

In addition to the national holidays, some provinces and territories observe additional public holidays:

  • Family Day (Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Ontario, Saskatchewan) - Dates vary by province.
  • Louis Riel Day (Manitoba, 3rd Monday of February)
  • Discovery Day (Yukon, 3rd Monday of August)
  • Civic Holiday (Observed in several provinces, typically the first Monday in August)
  • Easter Monday - While not an official statutory holiday across all of Canada, it is observed in some provinces.

Types of leave

Employees in Canada have access to various types of leave protected by federal, provincial, and territorial labor laws. Here's an overview of the different kinds of leave available:

Vacation Leave

  • Entitlement: Vacation leave entitlements are outlined in the Canada Labour Code (for federally regulated industries) and within each province/territory's labor legislation. Minimum entitlements usually range from two to three weeks of paid vacation annually, depending on jurisdiction and length of service.
  • Compensation: Employees are entitled to receive vacation pay during their leave, typically a percentage of their earnings.

Sick Leave

  • Entitlement: While the Canada Labour Code doesn't mandate paid sick leave, most provinces and territories provide for a minimum number of paid or unpaid sick days per year, with qualifying conditions.
  • Compensation: Varies across jurisdictions. Some offer paid sick leave, while others provide for unpaid leave protected by job security.

Maternity and Parental Leave

  • Entitlement: Pregnant employees are entitled to maternity leave, and both parents may be eligible for parental leave after the birth or adoption of a child. Leave durations and eligibility criteria vary depending on federal or provincial/territorial jurisdiction.
  • Compensation: Eligible employees may receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits during maternity and parental leave.

Compassionate Care Leave

  • Entitlement: Provides employees time off to care for a gravely ill family member at risk of death. Leave duration and eligibility criteria vary across jurisdictions.
  • Compensation: Eligible employees may receive Employment Insurance (EI) benefits during compassionate care leave.

Bereavement Leave

  • Entitlement: Most provinces and territories offer some form of bereavement leave, usually a few days of paid or unpaid leave following the death of a close family member.

Other Types of Leave

  • Personal Leave: Some jurisdictions provide for unpaid personal leave days that employees can use for various reasons.
  • Leaves for Family Responsibilities: Employees may be entitled to leaves for specific family-related obligations or emergencies.
  • Domestic Violence Leave: Several jurisdictions offer leave for victims of domestic violence.
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