HSP Days of Cultural or Religious Significance Pilot Project

One of the most exciting aspects of the 2022-2025 Health Sciences Professional Bargaining Association Collective Agreement is a Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) for a Days of Cultural or Religious Significance Pilot Project Working Group. The Working Group was formed out of a shared recognition that many of the statutory holidays recognized under Article 21 of the collective agreement are Christian and/or colonial holidays and are not meaningful or significant to many employees working in our public health sector.

The Working Group has been meeting with both employer and union representatives, developing a robust framework for the pilot project for many months to prepare for this pilot.

Consistent with the MOA, the Working Group has identified and confirmed three sites that have agreed to host a one-year trial of the pilot project. The sites are:

  • B.C. Children’s and Women’s Hospital (Provincial Health Services Authority)
  • Fraser Health Authority’s Population and Public Health Program (consisting of 13 work sites)
  • Fort Saint John Hospital (Northern Health Authority)

Thank you to the human resources departments and operation leaders of the above sites for generously putting forward their sites for the pilot project. The pilot project was inspired by the shared commitment to decolonization and inclusion.

The Working Group will continue to meet with human resources representatives and operation leaders from the pilot project over the next several months to obtain important feedback and address site-specific concerns about implementation.

The Working Group expects the pilot project to be implemented in tandem with the employee vacation planning process later this year. While the exact timeframe varies between health authorities, this process typically occurs between September and December. The pilot project will last one year.

When selecting their preferred vacation dates, employees at the participating sites will have the opportunity to submit specific dates of cultural or religious significance, and to request that the new day be swapped with one of the existing thirteen statutory holidays identified in Article 21 of the collective agreement.

Each pilot project site is requested to allow participating employees to exchange for a minimum of three days. In other words, employees should have the minimum opportunity to select up to three statutory holiday days to swap with their culturally significant days, but individual employees may choose fewer. Sites may permit employees to exchange more than three days. The pilot project sites should not have restrictions on which of the thirteen statutory holidays may be exchanged. All collective agreement rights associated with the statutory holiday will apply day of significance chosen by the employee, and the statutory holiday that was exchanged will be treated as any other workday. For sites that are closed on a statutory holiday that an employee has identified to work within, we request when possible, to give that employee meaningful alternative work, such as report writing, or other creative options available.

Participating employers are encouraged to give the phrase “days of cultural or religious significance” a broad interpretation and to exercise deference toward employees’ identification of days that may have some significance to them. The employer should not be concerned whether these days are in some way recognized by a culture or faith.

Here is an FAQ regarding the pilot project.

The Working Group will collect data and feedback throughout the pilot project’s duration and, consistent with the MOA, create a report assessing its effectiveness.

HSPBA will provide further updates to the participating employers as we prepare for implementation later this year.

Rhiannon Bray
Labour Relations Officer

Back to News