Winnipeg hoping to spark move to allow workers to switch out stat holidays

Click to play video: 'Upcoming report headed to Winnipeg City Hall proposes switch to statutory holidays   '
Upcoming report headed to Winnipeg City Hall proposes switch to statutory holidays   
The report will be presented before Winnipeg City Hall on Friday and it proposes workers be allowed to switch out statutory holidays for days that are more important to their beliefs – Jan 25, 2023

A new report headed to Winnipeg City Hall on Friday recommends allowing workers to switch out traditional holidays like Christmas for ones more meaningful to their culture or beliefs.

“We recognize the impact to small businesses, we recognize the impact to collective bargaining agreements, but if we’re truly to be an inclusive city, this is something we’ll have to engage in,” said Coun. Markus Chambers.

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A survey done as part of the report found 81 per cent of respondents support or strongly support more inclusive statutory holidays and days of observance.

And if the report is approved, a request to amend the legislation would be sent to the province.

Manitoba’s current employment standards legislation is outdated, according to HR experts.

“There’s a clause that says if you’d like to change the day then you have to have a vote and then the entire workforce has to agree to change the day, but that’s not what we’re actually talking about here,” says Tory McNally from Legacy Bowes.

McNally says one client has mentioned that most of the stats are Christian holidays.

“So if somebody wants to take one of their choosing, how do we negotiate the payroll implications of making sure that we’re onside with employment standards, but allowing people to have the time off that they want?”

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“We don’t want to move Christmas for the entire workforce. We just want if somebody wants to work Christmas and then take a day elsewhere, that they should be allowed to do that.”

This is a move that the Jewish Heritage Centre of Western Canada applauds.

“I think that religious freedom is a human right and I think that this makes perfect sense,” says Belle Jarniewski, executive director of the centre.

“Canada is no longer considered a Christian country, but our lives … as far as holidays go, are very much informed by the Christian calendar.”

Jarniewski says having the option for substitution ensures people are able to practise their own holidays and also make sure jobs are covered, “such as in hospitals and other places when they aren’t holidays that we observe.”

Click to play video: 'Manitoba initiative encouraging culturally ‘inclusive’ scheduling of non-stat holidays'
Manitoba initiative encouraging culturally ‘inclusive’ scheduling of non-stat holidays

Clinical psychologist Rehman Abdulrehman says it’s a nice gesture but it’s a gesture that feels a little bit “tokenistic.”

“Primarily because when we’re doing things that are already formally occurring, that’s not a sign of progress, that’s just a rubber-stamping of things that are already happening.”

He says to be truly inclusive, important holidays need to be stats for everyone.

“What’s happening in other parts of the world, including the U.S., is we’re actually working to celebrate everything, where the holidays for any Canadian cultural community become the holidays for all Canadians in the way that Christmas is.

What needs to happen is we need to work from an equitable and inclusive perspective that is actually anti-racist as it stands right now.

While we acknowledge and celebrate and offer time off culturally and in terms of work and business for just one holiday of one group of Canadians, that is ultimately discriminatory.”

Meanwhile, Jarniewski says people need to realize that Canada is a diverse country.

“This is a very good and practical solution that allows us all to practise our own faiths.”

— with files from Global’s Marney Blunt

Click to play video: 'Winnipeg may look at diversity stat holidays'
Winnipeg may look at diversity stat holidays

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