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Adults and children are skating outdoors on The Bentway ice rink during the Family Day statutory holiday.
Adults and children skating outdoors on The Bentway ice rink in Toronto.

Family Day is a fairly new Canadian holiday. Currently, only Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and New Brunswick recognize it as a statutory holiday. Family Day was first celebrated in Alberta, in 1990. Since then, other provinces have adopted the holiday as well. Family Day takes place on the third Monday of February, each year. This year, the holiday is on Monday, February 19, 2024. In this article, we will take a look a look at what Family Day is and what it symbolizes. We will also answer the question: Is Family Day a statutory holiday? Let’s get right into it

What is Family Day And Why Do Canadians Celebrate It?

Family day is a day to spend time with your family members. It was first introduced in 1990 with the passing of the Family Day Act. What makes Family Day different from other holidays is the reason it was proclaimed. Like other holidays, Family Day is a leisurely day off from work or school. However, there is more to Family Day than just that. 


Family Day gives light to one of the biggest things we take for granted: Our family. Former Albertan Premier, Don Getty, first introduced Family Day after his son was arrested for drug trafficking and possession. He wanted Family Day to help strengthen families, which is something we usually don’t pay much attention to.

What is a Statutory Holiday in Canada?


Is Family Day a statutory holiday? To answer that, we first need to understand what a statutory holiday is. The term statutory holiday is thrown around quite a lot but it is often misunderstood. Simply put, a statutory holiday is a designated day that is a paid day off for all employees. A national statutory holiday happens all across Canada. Some provinces also have statutory holidays that are only observed in that province.

There are currently 5 nationwide statutory holidays in Canada:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas Day

If you work on a statutory holiday, you will receive  1½ times your regular pay for that day. For example, if your regular hourly pay is $20/hr, you are entitled to receive $30/hr for each hour worked. ($20/hr x 1½ = $30). 

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Is Family Day A Statutory Holiday?

The answer to whether or not Family Day is a statutory holiday is complicated. Family Day is not a national statutory holiday. This means that not every province recognizes family day as a statutory holiday. However, certain provinces have adopted Family Day as a statutory holiday. In these provinces, most employees will get a paid day off from work on Family Day.

The provinces that recognize Family Day as a statutory holiday are:

  • Alberta
  • Saskatchewan
  • British Columbia
  • Ontario
  • New Brunswick

Other provinces have similar statutory holidays on the same day. Prince Edward Island has Islander day, Nova Scotia has Heritage Day, and Manitoba has Louis Riel Day. While Family Day is not a national statutory holiday yet, there are good chances it will become one later on.

Common Family Day Traditions in Canada

Since Family Day is a fairly new holiday, Canada doesn’t have many traditions to boast about. Family Day, in general, is a day to spend time with your family and just have a good time. You can do anything on Family Day as long as it includes everyone in your family.

Since Family Day takes place in February, you can enjoy winter activities and events. Or, you can simply pull out a board game that the family enjoys. If you have an elder living with you who likes to tell stories, take some time to listen to them. Family Day is all about exploring things you might have overlooked about your family.

Outdoor winter activities can be a great way to enjoy Family Day

Check Out Free Family Day Activities

If you reside in one of the provinces that recognize Family Day as a statutory holiday, you can usually find plenty of free activities. For example, in British Columbia, the government is ensuring that celebrations are accessible to everyone. So you can find free virtual and in-person activities throughout the province over the entire Family Day weekend.

You can check out the BC Recreation and Parks Association for a list of activities across the province that are admission-free. You can also visit the Royal BC Museum, or join plenty of online events. Or in Edmonton, Alberta check out indoor entertainment, education, and other Family Day activities at the Alberta Legislature.

Family Day is an especially great holiday if you don’t usually spend a lot of time with your family. A distant family will never be as strong as one that stays connected. It is important to do fun activities with your family once in a while. Family Day is just one day. Yes, it encourages you to let you spend time with your family members but there is more to the holiday than just that. Family Day serves as a reminder to always stay close and include everyone who is a part of our family.

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