New holiday for families in B.C.

Third Monday in February, starting in 2013

Jamie Rauch

B.C. now has what five other provinces already have – a statutory holiday halfway between New Year’s and Easter.

But moms and dads and kids will have to wait another year before they get that holiday, Family Day, announced in Monday’s Throne Speech.

The first Family Day statutory holiday won’t be until Feb. 18, 2013, the government announced. It puts B.C. in the same company as Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, which already have Family Days, the third Monday of February.

The idea was welcomed by Alvin Hynes, on a week’s holiday and with his two sons in Maple Ridge Park on Tuesday.

“I think they should have it. Everybody needs Family Day.”

They don’t have that yet in his home province of Newfoundland, however.

That province, along with Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia still has no holiday in February, leaving residents there with only groundhog day to celebrate.

Jamie and Mandy Rauch also like the idea of Family Day as their two little ones burnt off some energy on the playground equipment in maple Ridge park.

“Very pleased,” said Jamie, about to become a dad for the third time with his wife days away from delivering a new baby.

“That’s exciting. I’ve been waiting.”

Mandy said her relatives in Alberta already enjoy that so it would be nice to have the same thing in B.C. She agreed, she might think about voting Liberal next election.

The announcement is the latest in Premier Christy Clark’s Families First agenda.

“A    February    holiday    may    spark    an    increase in tourism and family-related entertainment and allow for greater productivity as employees come back to work refreshed,” the agenda says.

The government also raised the minimum wage soon after Clark took over leadership of the party early this year.

The minimum wage climbed from $8 an hour, the lowest in Canada, to $8.75 last May, then goes to $9.50 on Nov. 1. It takes its final jump on May 1 next year, up to $10.25 an hour.

Evelyn Ching, who runs Austin Fish and Chips in Valley Fair Mall, generally supports the new holiday, even though she’ll have to pay an extra day of salary for staff.

“Of course, it does affect my payroll.” However, because the holiday will fall every third Monday in February, the downside should be minimized because the restaurant is closed that day, sparing overtime wage bills, as well.

But she likes the idea, adding that today’s families are so busy, it’s hard to find quality family time. She’ll probably enjoy Family Day as well, she added.

Two other provinces have mid-winter breaks.

Prince Edward Island has Islander Day, while Manitoba celebrates Louis Riel Day – both on the third Monday of February.

New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix criticized the Clark’s inaugural throne speech, saying the government is “out of gas and out of ideas and apparently incapable of offering substantive measures to address the very real challenges British Columbians face.”

“This is a very disappointing showing from a government that seems to value slogans and photo ops over serious policy proposals.

“There is nothing here to address growing inequality beyond mention of an already scheduled increase to the minimum wage.”

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