Posted on 16 May 2012 by Mathew White
Alberta has it, Ontario has it, and now, so will British Columbia.
After years of anticipation, residents of British Columbia will finally get their wish as the provincial government has confirmed there will be a “Family Day” statutory holiday in B.C. come 2013.
Not only that, but the government is asking residents to vote on which day they feel works best.
“We’d really like people to just give us their honest opinion,” said Dr. Margaret MacDiarmid, MLA for the Vancouver-Fairview area.
Premier Christy Clark first announced the idea of a Family Day in B.C. as part of her platform commitment last year and she officially committed to the idea during her throne speech last October.
“She had heard, as many of us had, that people really felt there was a long stretch between Christmas and the Easter break, where there was no long weekend and it was a real grind,” said MacDiarmid. “People felt other jurisdictions had a holiday, Alberta does and many other provinces do, and of course the United States has Presidents’ Day, and so she had said that this was something she believed we should have in B.C.”
Family Day has traditionally been held the third Monday in February and that was what the Ministry of Labour had originally planned for. However, a few weeks ago a couple of people from the B.C. tourism industry contacted Pat Bell, the Minister of Tourism, Trade and Investment, and raised the idea of having the holiday on a different date.
“The reason for that is because a lot of the resorts, hotels and restaurants are packed that weekend (third weekend in February), and their point was, if we had it on a different weekend, if we had it on the second weekend instead, that would allow for more business and easier access for B.C. families,” said MacDiarmid.
On the other hand, MacDiarmid said a number of B.C. families also spoke up and said they want Family Day to be on the same day as the other provinces so families can plan vacations and getaways together. Also, businesses across Canada have said it is very difficult to have the holiday out of sync with the rest of the country.
Because of this makeshift two-sided coin, MacDiarmid said they decided to go with an online poll where residents can vote for either the second or third Monday of February. As of last Thursday night, MacDiarmid said there had already been more than 7,000 votes cast and more than 500 comments were forwarded.
While the total number of votes will be taken into consideration, MacDiarmid said the ultimate decision will be based mainly on the comments being left.
While most people more than support the introduction of a new holiday, MacDiarmid said there are a few out there who don’t see it as a positive.
A number of businesses, for instance, see the addition of a new holiday as more of a financial burden as opposed to a gift.
“We certainly recognize that, but at the same time, we’ve heard from scores of families … who feel they want to have that long weekend with their family,” said MacDiarmid. “I really can see it from both sides so it’s important to hear what British Columbians think.”
Anyone looking to cast a vote or voice their opinion can do so at http://blog.gov.bc.ca/bcfamilyday/. Voting will be open until May 22 and the finalized Family Day date will be announced towards the end of the month, said MacDiarmid.
The introduction of Family Day in British Columbia will bring the province’s total number of statutory holidays to 10 – a number ahead of many other provinces and on par with the highest in the country.