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The Ins and Outs of Vacation Time & Vacation Pay

Vacation pay regulations in Canada are not as straight forward as many Canadians might think. Each province has different rules and regulations with regard to the amount of vacation pay and time each person can take.

This article was updated on October 14, 2016. 

We dug through the government jargon and have prepared a guide to help provide Canadians with what they really want to know about vacation pay.

You can also find out more about the vacation pay/time regulations for each province in greater detail by visiting their websites:

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario | Quebec | New Brunswick | Nova Scotia | Prince Edward Island | Newfoundland & Labrador | Yukon | Northwest Territories | Nunavut |


This guide is based on employers who are governed by provincial employment laws and not federal, this accounts for roughly 95 per cent of all employers in Canada.


How much vacation pay and time am I entitled to?


Starting off with the basics, every province in Canada entitles an employee to vacation time after working for 12 consecutive months of employment. The amount of time off an employer must grant their employees is two weeks in every province apart from Saskatchewan (which offers 3 weeks) and Quebec (which offers one day per month).

“The amount of vacation an employee is entitled to is governed by the firm’s own policy, with a minimum amount prescribed under the employment standards legislation in each province,” said Howard Levitt, Counsel to the national law firm Lang Michener. “In Ontario, it is 2 weeks per year, no matter how long the person is employed, unless the company, in its generosity, decides to have a policy to provide more.”

In terms of vacation pay, many provinces calculate vacation pay from the first day an employee is working to the day they leave the company. Employers calculate 4% (except in Saskatchewan where it is 6%) of each pay cheque towards vacation pay, unless they wish to give the employees more.

Some provinces increase the minimum amount of vacation pay an employer is required to give after a certain period. The table below shows the differences between provinces.


PROVINCES and TERRITORIES Vacation Pay starts being accumulated: Extension of Vacation Time Extension of Vacation Pay Increase in Vacation Pay % of gross earnings
British Columbia After 5th day After 5 years* 3 weeks To 6 %
Alberta First day After 5th year 3 weeks To 6 %
Saskatchewan First day After 10th year 4 weeks To 8 %
Manitoba First day After 5th year 3 weeks To 6 %
Ontario First day After 5th year 3 weeks To 6 %
Quebec First day After 5th Year 3 weeks To 6 %
Newfoundland and Labrador After 5th
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