Workers in Saskatchewan cannot be told to keep their poppies off, thanks to a new law passed just in time for Remembrance Day.
Bill 139, the Saskatchewan Remembrance Observance Act, grants employees the right to wear poppies in the workplace.
After the government’s legislation was introduced Wednesday, all Saskatchewan MLAs voted together to pass the legislation immediately, according to 980 CJME.
“I don’t remember many times — and I’ve been around here a long time — that a bill would go through so quickly, unanimously with support from opposition and, of course, government,” Labour Minister Don McMorris told reporters.
The law enshrines the right to wear a poppy at work between Nov. 1 and 11 unless it poses a danger to the health, safety, or welfare of the worker or others.
The timeframe of the law coincides with the Royal Canadian Legion’s poppy campaign period, Nov. 1-11, and includes Indigenous Veteran’s Day on Nov. 8.
The law, which applies to provincially regulated workers, comes in response to incidents where individuals were compelled by employers to remove their poppies, perceived incorrectly as political symbols.
McMorris provided several examples of occurrences where someone was asked to remove their poppy. Some of these instances included where poppy’s were alleged to be a political symbol, or seen as not “neutral.”
One incident involved an Estevan courthouse employee who was asked to remove their poppy because it was deemed as not “neutral.”
The swift and unanimous passage underscores the province’s collective commitment to honouring veterans, the government said.
“We don’t feel it’s a political statement at all. I think it’s a statement of respect for those that came before us,” said McMorris.
This legislation does not extend to federally regulated sectors including banks, telecommunications, and interprovincial transportation services.
“Our veterans, current and past, have fought for our freedom and peace in Canada,” McMorris said.
“Providing the right for workers to wear a poppy while in the workplace is a way to honour the sacrifice veterans and their families have made.”