Should Remembrance Day be a statutory holiday across Canada?

People watch as poppies are projected on Parliament Hill, ahead of Remembrance Day, in Ottawa, November 10, 2016.
People watch as poppies are projected on Parliament Hill, ahead of Remembrance Day, in Ottawa, November 10, 2016. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

Lest we forget.

November 11 marks the 98th anniversary of the end of First World War, which we know in Canada as Remembrance Day. It’s a solemn occasion in which Canadians remember our fallen soldiers.

Across much, but not all, of Canada it’s a statutory holiday. Statutory holidays are regulated through federal, provincial or territorial laws allowing employees a paid day off. Employees of the federal government and federally regulated organizations also get a paid day off.

All of Canada’s territories and most provinces also recognize it as a provincial statutory holiday except for Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

In those four provinces, the day is not officially recognized in law as a statutory holiday, and therefore employees can’t take the day off to commemorate the fallen unless they book it as a vacation day.

One politician wants to change that and make Remembrance Day a statutory holiday across Canada. West Nova member of Parliament Colin Fraser has created a private member’s bill, Bill C-311, that would give the day the same type of recognition as Canada Day or Victoria Day.

"The main purpose is to give it the recognition I think it deserves in federal legislation, but also to get the provinces and territories who don't have it as a statutory holiday to revisit it," Fraser told CBC News.

It’s by no means the first time the idea has been circulated. Just last year, former NDP MP Dan Harris had put forward a similar bill, which went nowhere, because Parliament was dissolved ahead of the 2015 federal election.

However, the bill doesn’t have the support of one very important group, the Royal Canadian Legion, which is Canada’s largest veteran support and community service organization. The legion doesn’t think making the day a holiday for all is a good idea, because it would be “just another day off.”

Still, if most of Canada recognizes the importance of the day already, why not make the day a statutory holiday across the country?

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