When World War One ended, (or the Great War, as it was known at that time), an armistice agreement was signed between the Allies and Germany which took place in Paris, France, at 5:00 a.m. (Paris time), on Monday, November 11, 1918. Upon signing this agreement, hostilities ceased at 11:00 a.m. The poppy represents the symbol of Remembrance.
Remembrance is the cornerstone of The Royal Canadian Legion’s work in Canada.
The Poppy Campaign is a major source of funds used to assist veterans, ex-service people and their dependents. A writer first made the connection between the poppy and battlefield deaths during the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th century, remarking that fields that were barren before battle exploded with the blood-red flowers after the fighting ended. Lieut-Col. John McCrae, the Canadian doctor who wrote the poem “In Flanders Fields“, made the same connection 100 years later, during the First World War, and the scarlet poppy quickly became the symbol for soldiers who died in battle. In November 1921, the first poppies were distributed in Canada.
In Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador Remembrance Day is a paid public (statutory) holiday under employment/labour standards legislation. Employees get a day off with regular pay and/or holiday pay; if the employee is required to work on the holiday, the employee must be paid regular wages and get a substituted day off with pay at a later date (depending on the province or territory of employment). Federally regulated employees also have a holiday on Remembrance Day.
In Manitoba and Nova Scotia some employees get a day off under the Remembrance Day Act. Employees who do not work that day, do not get paid for the day, unless the employer offers pay as an added benefit. In general, the Act, requires that all businesses close in observation of Canadian contributions and sacrifices in wars and international conflicts. Retail businesses that sell or offer to sell goods and services, tradespeople or professional services, rental companies and businesses charging admission to performances must close, but are allowed to open to the public prior to 9:00 a.m. and after 1 p.m.
Every employer carrying on or engaged in an industry to which the Remembrance Day Act does not apply must relieve all employees from duty, and suspend the operations of the industry or sector, for a period of three minutes, at one minute before 11 o’clock on the forenoon on Remembrance Day.
After Ottawa-area MPP Lisa MacLeod introduced a private member’s bill submitting that Remembrance Day be made a public (statutory) holiday in Ontario, several news and other organizations have been polling the public to see whether Remembrance Day should be turned into a statutory holiday in the province, or in Canada.
However, the Ontario private member’s Bill would see the Remembrance Day statutory holiday replace February’s Family Day.
Several of the poll results have so far shown great support for this initiative. A commentator to one of those polls stated:
I too would say yes, of course I want another holiday. However, should you have put in “at the expense of losing Family Day in February”, which is what the Gov’t is stating they would like to do, I wonder if so many would have hit the yes button ?
I agree, I would love to see Remembrance Day become Ontario’s next statutory holiday but not if it means taking away our Family Day in February.