By James Rose
Special to the Pioneer
BC’s provincial government is discussing aligning the B.C. Family Day holiday – which normally occurs on the second weekend in February – with the rest of Canada (third weekend in February). The third weekend in February is also US President’s Day and is therefore one of the busiest holiday weekends of the year in Canada.
Premier John Horgan has long held the position that the February holiday should be changed.
“It’s been his view for a long time that we should be in alignment with other provinces and we’re determining how quickly we can get that done,” read a statement from his office in October. The Family Day holiday was created by the Liberals in 2012. After public consultations, it was decided the holiday would land on the second Monday of the month. Other provinces, most notably Alberta with respect to the Columbia Valley, have Family Day on the third Monday of the month. The difference has meant that some people who wish to celebrate it with family members in a different province aren’t able to do so.
At the recent Union of B.C. Municipalities convention, the City of Quesnel brought forward a resolution calling on the government to move the date to the third Monday.
To find out what the Columbia Valley’s business community thinks about the proposed change, the Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce (CVCC) recently sent out an online poll to both members and non-members that is slated to close around the New Year. According to CVCC Executive Director Susan Clovechok, if the majority of the CVCC membership supports aligning the holiday with the rest of Canada, the Chamber will advocate accordingly. Thus far, the poll has received almost one hundred respondents.
“The poll shows that so far, a healthy majority support keeping it the same as it is currently,” commented Ms. Clovechok.
The CVCC board also believes that Family Day should remain on the second weekend in February for the following reasons: Workforce shortage. Moving the BC Family day weekend to coincide with the rest of the country (and the American President’s Day) would diminish the financial benefit to local businesses and make it difficult for employers to give their employees the weekend off. And, as a tourism-based economy, many businesses in the Columbia Valley depend upon the influx of visitors (primarily from Alberta and Saskatchewan) during the third weekend in February to help them financially sustain their operations year round.
Part of the reason for conducting the poll is because the CVCC Board wants to verify that they are of the same opinion as the majority of the Chamber’s membership.
Anonymous responses to the poll’s questions have included: “I totally agree with the CVCC board’s reasoning behind keeping the holiday as is in B.C.”; “Alberta/Sask. Family Day already sells to capacity – there is no further opportunity for business. In addition, rates are at the ceiling and untenable for B.C. folk looking to get away. Holding B.C. Family Day at its current date allows tourism businesses to drive more revenue, while offering quality product at a slightly lower rate”; “Because of the nature of seasonal business in B.C. it is best to keep the B.C. Family Day as the 2nd week. If it is moved to align with the other provinces many employees will not actually get a holiday and will have to work because the 3rd weekend in February is busy for many employers. Moving this holiday to the 3rd week will also increase employee wage costs by having to have people work on the busy weekend.”
Once the poll is closed, the CVCC plans to inform the Columbia Valley’s local MLA Doug Clovechok of their findings.