Kyle Slavin: We’re still waiting for Family Day

It’ll still be dark out when alarm clocks start waking silent neighbourhoods on Feb. 20, 2012, signalling to British Columbians that the start of their workday is mere minutes away.

It’ll still be dark out when alarm clocks start waking silent neighbourhoods on Feb. 20, 2012, signalling to British Columbians that the start of their workday is mere minutes away.

We, in B.C., will be the lone early risers west of Quebec that morning.

Most Canadian provinces, it seems, have deemed the third Monday in February the perfect day to sleep in, the perfect day to enjoy the seldom-watched 10 a.m. airing of The Price is Right, and the perfect day to spend with family.

Even our premier favours the notion of implementing a statutory holiday in the middle of February.

Platforming on her notion of Families First, Christy Clark proposed Family Day last January while seeking leadership of the provincial Liberals.

“One of the keys to strong families is having quality time together,” she said at the time. “I want to talk with families and see what they think and if all agree the concept of a holiday in the middle of the winter makes sense, we can work together to find a way to make it happen.”

I can’t imagine there’s anything more B.C. families would overwhelmingly support than the concept of a day off in February.

This year, we went 111 days between New Year’s and Good Friday without a statutory holiday. Next year that gap will shrink to 96 days – but 96 days is an excruciatingly long time between three-day weekends when you consider that the next longest gap between stats is the 44 days between Remembrance Day and Christmas.

The discussion around Family Day died down once the business community spoke against the plan, saying it’s too costly a venture for business owners who’d wind up eating the cost of either lost production or having to pay staff time-and-a-half.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce estimates each stat costs the province $270 million in lost productivity – but who can put a cost on time spent with family?

Well, business owners can, and we will likely hear them balk at having another financial curve ball thrown their way. But can’t they sympathize with my want for a day off, and my want for the premier to truly put families first?

Fortunately, as part of this week’s throne speech, the talk of Family Day returned and Christy promised us a day off, beginning in 2013.

As much as I appreciate the prospect of the holiday, 16 months of anticipation is way too long to wait.

Putting families first shouldn’t mean putting families first in a couple years.

Immediacy does matter.

This government was criticized for moving at a snail’s pace to scrap the HST (apparently it takes 18 months to get rid of a tax that took just 12 to bring in), and a 16-month rollout of Family Day gives the appearance of more slow-moving bureaucracy.

And with an election planned for spring 2013, one can only assume a campaigning Christy can point to the newly reinstalled PST-GST (April 2013) and the new Family Day (February 2013) to garner support from the voting public.

In an attempt to balance politicking with putting families at the top of her agenda, it seems that balance is weighted heavily toward the political side of things.

Madam Premier, please expeditiously implement Family Day in B.C. in 2012.

Don’t wait another 16 months before you and I and most everyone else in the province can recharge their metaphorical batteries during an extended period of winter doldrums.

Politicians in our province need to look for ways to earn brownie points from the voting public and what better way to do that than giving us a day off a year earlier than expected and letting us bake said brownies?

Feb. 20 is but a few months away. Get working on giving B.C. families their first Family Day, which will be unmistakable proof you’re still putting families first.

Kyle Slavin is a reporter with

the Saanich News.

kslavin@saanichnews.com

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