Family Day stirs emotions

Due to the choice of the word family, the emotions around the day may vary depending on the individual’s situation.

Family Day means sleeping in, an extra day with the family and taking in special festivities. But while many will be enjoying the new holiday, others may be faced with some painful emotions.

Robert Gifford, professor of psychology and environmental studies at the University of Victoria, recently “ranted” to his class about some of his Family Day concerns from a psychological perspective.

“I think a lot of people are going to be happy to break the long time between Christmas and Easter,” he said.

But due to the choice of the word family, the emotions around the day may vary depending on the individual’s situation.

“If you happen to live in a classic nuclear family, or close to your parents or grandchildren, it seems great to spend the day together. It’s a postcard holiday,” said Gifford.

The word family may be uncomfortable for those who live far away from their families, have a broken family or are estranged from their loved ones.

According to Gifford, the vision of happy families celebrating and enjoying the new holiday may leave those without, cringing slightly at the false or inappropriate promise inadvertently created.

Although Gifford is concerned with the literal meaning of the word, Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Ida Chong said the term is intended to be more inclusive.

“When you talk about family, I think you refer to all your loved ones,” said Chong. “I don’t know if we could have called it a loved one holiday, that would have been pretty difficult.”

The new holiday is intended not only to provide a break for businesses and employees, but also to reinforce the importance of family.

“By calling it Family Day we will treasure and value the family. Whatever that is in everyone’s structure, people will spend time together with their loved ones,” Chong said.

The provincial government is also hoping the new holiday will provide an economic boost at a slow time of the year.

“I talked to people who said they were looking forward to it and planning to do a staycation,” Chong said. “Instead of going away, they are going to stay in town with their family and visit local tourist attractions, recreational activities or the special events planned. There will be money put back into the economy.”

Some B.C. workers who won’t be enjoying the day off are federal public sector employees.

According to the Public Service Alliance of Canada, their collective agreements provide for 11 designated paid holidays, including a day in the opinion of the employer to be a provincial or civic holiday.

Even though the Canadian Taxpayers Federation doesn’t have a formal position on Family Day, B.C. director Jordan Bateman said they oppose the $1.5 million being spent to promote the holiday.

“That takes it from being a holiday and puts it back in the realm of being a political issue and a vehicle paid for by the taxpayer to promote the premier and her agenda,” he said.

Bateman isn’t convinced there is a need for the new holiday, but he understands it was part of the premier’s campaign platform.

“If you have a holiday, let the private sector and other organizations do their thing.

“You don’t see us plowing grants into Easter Sunday or Christmas Day,” he said. “I think we all know how to enjoy a holiday. I don’t think that’s a problem. I also don’t think we need the government telling us how to enjoy time with our families.”




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