EDITORIAL: B.C. Family Day not free for all

Businesses cover the cost of providing another stat holiday

This weekend marks B.C.’s first Family Day statutory holiday, which for most people breaks that long three-month stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter.

B.C. residents now enjoy 10 stat holidays (11 if your employer is nice enough to throw in Boxing Day), which ties us with Saskatchewan as the most generous province for the coveted long weekend.

By contrast, Nova Scotians and Newfoundlanders only have five.

While Greater Victorians enjoy recounting their youth by listening to Trooper in the Inner Harbour on Monday, or take advantage of the many activities offered at recreation centres across the region, people should remember not everybody can afford an extra day off.

When Premier Christy Clark announced the creation of Family Day in October 2011, she expected that by now a better economy would balance out the extra costs to businesses.

But many small retailers and companies are struggling as the economy remains flat at best. They are paying out more due to a higher minimum wage, and all are now contemplating the cost and hassle of returning to the GST/PST system.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimates a small business with five employees will shell out about $1,135 for Family Day and it will cost small and medium sized businesses $42 million in lost productivity.

Municipal and provincial governments will also shell out more for essential service employees and the hundreds of thousands of people on the public payroll.

This holiday can be seen as rather blatant pandering to the electorate by the the B.C. Liberals, or an attempt to give hard-working B.C.ers a break – perhaps it’s a bit of both.

And while the majority of us will enjoy the Monday off work, it’s important to acknowledge the many small business owners in our community who will see it as nothing but an added burden.

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