Public Services and Procurement Canada helps pave the way for Canada Day celebrations

The Maple Leaf waving from every home and hand. Canadians honouring our history and achievements. A time for reflecting on the past and how we can shape a better future. It's Canada Day!

Many Canada Day traditions are supported by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC). Did you know we play a key role in preserving the integrity of the Canadian flag, the most visible symbol of our national pride? We also help prepare the site for the main Canada Day celebration in Ottawa, which will take place at LeBreton Flats Park this year.

Setting the standards for the flag

Canadian flags in a flag factory

The iconic Maple Leaf is a staple at many events, but there is more to the flag than meets the eye.

Canadian flags used by the Government of Canada must meet specific standards set by the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB), which is part of PSPC.

There are standards related to the fabric, stitching and grommets used in the production of the flags. Other standards apply to the dyes, owing to early issues with the colours fading and blending. Flags are even performance-tested in a wind tunnel at the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport.

There are now, in fact, 3 National Standards of Canada for the national flag, depending on whether it's used indoors, outdoors or at a one-off event (such as the flags distributed on Canada Day). New editions for the national standards are currently under development. Draft documents were posted for public comment in the spring of 2022, and the final editions will be shared on the CGSB website.

Through its standardization services, the CGSB ensures the high quality of many products and services used by Canadians, while supporting our economic, health, safety and environmental interests.

Preparing the celebration site

Canada Day celebrations take place from coast to coast to coast, with the headline event in the national capital. Getting Canada's capital ready requires significant effort and planning.

Velvet ropes in a warehouse

PSPC's logistical and ceremonial experts perform much of the work, in close collaboration with Canadian Heritage. This includes overseeing the construction of the main stage that features the Canada Day noon and evening shows. The team also puts in place flags, media risers, folding chairs, and an array of barriers, ropes and stanchions at the main event site. Hundreds of feet of red carpet are rolled out for dignitaries, often including the Prime Minister and Governor General.

Observing protocol around the use and placement of flags is also important. There are 2 giant Canadian flags placed on the exterior of the Office of the Prime Minister and the Privy Council Office. In addition, Ottawa's Ceremonial Route is lined with provincial, territorial and Canadian flags, displayed in order of entry into Confederation.

The ceremonial team starts laying the foundation for the event weeks in advance, starting with tasks like reviewing site plans. When showtime arrives on July 1, PSPC personnel are on location from 4 am until late at night. One of their primary responsibilities is to switch the set-up between the daytime ceremony and the evening shows, which is no easy feat in the middle of the day. “It's difficult to maneuver and move the equipment through the crowd,” says Carmen Barcena, Head of Ceremonial and Protocol Services. “The weather can also wreak havoc,” she adds. “Once, it felt like it was 50 degrees Celsius. We were melting!”

Barcena has seen many Canada Days in her career, but it never gets old. “You get to watch some of the performances and interact with dignitaries and the public. It's a very special day.”

A Canadian flag flying over the Peace Tower

Barcena's team will be at the main 2022 event site at LeBreton Flats Park to contribute to the festivities.

In these ways, PSPC proudly supports the Canada Day symbols and events that unite us.

As for the flag, Canada Day isn't the only time it's in the spotlight. The flag is raised regularly on several Parliament Hill buildings, and that's another PSPC role. Watch the changing the flag on the Peace Tower video to see what's involved in ensuring that a new flag flies over Parliament Hill every day.

To learn more about the department's range of programs and initiatives, visit Public Services and Procurement Canada.

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