Who Will Have a Good Holiday?

As we head into the Christmas holidays and many of us look forward to spending some time away from work with our families, it’s worth noting that there is great inequality among Canadian workers in terms of access to paid vacation leave, and big gaps compared to other industrial countries.

The statutory minimum in Canada varies by province, and is just two weeks (10 days) in most provinces, rising to three years after five or more years of service in a few jurisdictions.  That’s a lot better than in the US, but a two week norm hardly allows for much of an extended  Christmas break for many.

The recent review of Part III of the Canada Labour Code recommended a minimum of three weeks after five years, and a minimum four weeks after 10 years. This would match the best standard in Canada, in Saskatchewan., and would represent a modest but useful step forward.

Typically, unionized workers go from a minimum of 3 weeks, to 4 weeks after 10 years of service (and often get it before that term is reached), to 5 weeks after a longer period of service of 15-20 years.  Many can eventually reach 6 paid weeks of vacation. These kind of paid vacation entitlements are probably also typical of permanent “core” workers in public services and large private sector firms.

As documented by the European Industrial Relations Observatory (see link), the norm in Europe is very close to the high end in Canada. The average EU statutory minimum is 21 days or just over 4 weeks per year, and unionized workers typically get at least 5 and often 6 weeks of paid vacation leave (on top of a greater number of statutory public holidays and a shorter working week.)


One comment

  • In the spirit of time off around the holidays, I have often thought that a saavy politician would do more to enhance statutory holidays. I recommend something like one three-day weekend per month, and a four-day weekend every three months.

    Saskatchewan, I think, just announced a new stat holiday for February, ending the drought between New Year’s Day and Easter (and let’s fix a date for Easter, as it is so awkward the way it shifts from year to year). A good start.

    I call it a “leisure platform” and predict that it would be very popular.

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