‘Monday is our first Family Day,” I declared. “Let us celebrate it together. Summon the child.”
“You mean children,” I was told.
“Really?” (Note to self: Spend less time at the office and bar, or at least less time at the office.)
We in B.C. are new to this Family Day business. Not so hot at families, either.
Fewer than one in four British Columbia households are made up of the traditional Happy Days couple with children living at home. Those B.C. numbers are a bit under the Canadian average, which is like being slightly less popular than Gary Bettman.
It’s not as though the typical Canadian breeds like an NBA player/Octomom to begin with. The average number of people per family dropped to 2.9 in 2011 from 3.9 in 1961, according to Statistics Canada. The average number of children fell to 1.9 from 2.7 in the same period. Any lower and we’ll have to start filling our minor hockey teams and Brownie packs with children imported on temporary permits, just like Mexican farmworkers or Chinese miners.
Indeed, the last census showed Canada has more single-person households (3.7 million) than households with children (3.5 million). The latter would like to know if the former are free to babysit on Saturday night.
Nonetheless, we British Columbians are about to devote an entire day to the family. Von Trapp, Addams, Kardashian, Corleone — we don’t care, show us a family and we’ll cheer it like bacon-wrapped salvation if it means we finally get a long weekend in February.
Alberta has had a February stat since 1990. They called it Family Day because Stare Out The Window At The Minus 40 Bleakness And Weep Day was too long.
Saskatchewan followed suit in 2007, then Ontario a year later, along with Manitoba, though the latter province named it Louis Riel Day, which must make him feel better. Prince Edward Island calls it Mike Duffy Day, or something. Yukoners are also said to take the day off, though they might just be frozen in. It’s also a holiday in the U.S., where they’ll be marking Presidents Day by shooting their assault rifles in the air, or perhaps at each other.
Of course, this being B.C., we had to march just a little out of step with the others, taking the second Monday in February instead of the third.
We assumed this must mean Christy has a time share in Puerto Vallarta, but no, it turns out we’re trying to give our ski hills and other destinations a shot at two big weekends in February, one for out-of-province visitors, one for us.
That should placate some of those employers who have been grumbling about Family Day. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated the new stat will cost the average small business an extra $1,135 in labour costs.
Others also find statutory holidays a burden. There’s a big gulf between employees who see stats as a chance to earn time-and-a-half/laze at home and self-employed workers who see them as a chance to earn nothing/ scramble for child care. Nature is unforgiving, too: Farmers still have to farm, drug dealers still have to deal.
Also remember that federal civil servants don’t get the day off. Their contracts entitle them to 11 stats a year, one of them being a civic or provincial holiday, and that spot is already taken by August’s B.C. Day. That means it’s business as usual for, among others, the thousands of Victorians who work at CFB Esquimalt.
Ditto for the RCMP. If a Mountie pulls you over Monday and asks, “Anything to drink tonight?” it might not be the best time to reply with, “Thanks, I’ll have a beer.”
The rest of us aren’t quite sure what we’re supposed to do with Family Day. The City of Victoria decided to close the Crystal Pool, which, given the nature of the holiday, seemed a bit like locking the churches at Christmas or the Legion on Remembrance Day.
Then the city workers’ union stepped in, paying to keep the pool open for free activities from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. It promises to be fun for the whole family, if we had any.
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