In one of its first public statements following its re-election, the McGuinty Government has announced that it intends to proceed with the establishment of a new public holiday in Ontario, to be called "Family Day". The proposed holiday is expected to fall on February 18, 2008 and recur each year thereafter on the third Monday in February.

It is anticipated that the new statutory holiday will be established by way of a new regulation under the Employment Standards Act ("ESA") that would add Family Day to the definition of "public holiday" under Section 1 of the ESA, alongside New Year’s Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

The new regulation is likely to impose significant new financial and administrative obligations on Ontario businesses as it would likely require employers to comply with all of the existing obligations associated with other public holidays, such as the obligations to provide appropriate time off work, public holiday pay and "premium" pay where an employee works on a public holiday.

The McCarthy Tétrault Labour and Employment Group will continue to monitor this issue and will be providing our clients with additional information once implementation details are announced.

If you have any questions about Family Day or your organization’s statutory obligations regarding public holidays, please contact a member of our Labour and Employment Group.