Family Day (Information)
The holiday was proclaimed by Lieutenant Governor Helen Hunley, on the advice of her premier, Don Getty. Premier Getty said it was important for Albertans to spend time with their families, and that this holiday would emphasize the importance of family values. The date was chosen to coincide with Washington’s Birthday, in order to avoid disrupting trade with the United States.
Getty faced considerable criticism at the time; many employers felt an additional statutory holiday was an unnecessary financial burden. In response, Heritage Day was downgraded to a civic holiday, meaning employers would not be required to observe it. Under Alberta law, the employer may choose to observe Heritage Day as a general holiday, under which rules applying to general holiday pay will be used.
Some Getty critics had suggested the creation of Family Day was linked to the arrest and conviction of one of Getty’s sons on cocaine-related charges. Getty himself, however, has said over the years that the two events weren’t related.
In October 2006, Saskatchewan‘s Premier, Lorne Calvert, proposed the holiday for the province, starting in 2007. The bill for the Labour Standards Amendment Act, 2006, was introduced in the legislature on November 1, 2006, and received Royal Assent on December 6. The act officially declares Family Day on the third Monday of each February; the first Family Day in Saskatchewan was February 19, 2007.
During the Ontario provincial election in 2007, Dalton McGuinty, of the Liberal Party, promised that, if re-elected premier, he would establish a provincial holiday in February. On October 12, 2007, the provincial government established Family Day on the third Monday in February, to be first observed on February 18, 2008. Its creation raised Ontario’s number of statutory holidays to nine per year. However, this holiday does not necessarily add to the number of holidays Ontarians receive because employers can substitute any non-statutory holidays that employees may already be receiving in lieu of this day. Many employers have substituted the popular Civic Holiday, which falls on the first Monday in August. Although the Civic Holiday is enjoyed by millions every year, it is not public (statutory), and workers may have to choose one holiday or the other, based on their contract, union negotiations, service requirements, etc.
A private member’s bill to establish Family Day on the third Monday in February was introduced in the British Columbia Legislature by Liberal MLA Bob Chisholm in 1994 but failed to pass. Although there were renewed calls to introduce Family Day in BC between 2007 and 2011, it was opposed by the British Columbia Chamber of Commerce and the Campbell government.
On January 10, 2011, while running for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party, Christy Clark proposed establishing a Family Day holiday on the third Monday of February. Clark subsequently became premier; the Speech from the Throne, delivered on October 3, 2011, said that BC would observe its first Family Day on February 18, 2013.
In 2012, a two-week consultation process was held in order to determine if British Columbians preferred the holiday to fall on the second or third Monday in February. On May 28, 2012, it was announced that Family Day would be observed on the second Monday in February each year, starting February 11, 2013. As this does not coincide with Presidents Day, it also provides two consecutive long weekends for tourism, particularly at BC’s many ski resorts.
On February 9, 2018, the British Columbia provincial government announced that Family Day would be moved to the 3rd Monday in February in 2019, to align their holiday with the rest of those provinces who observe it on that Monday.
On September 5, 2010, while campaigning for re-election, New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham promised to establish Family Day in his province if his Liberal Party was returned to government, Graham did not win re-election.
The Liberals won re-election in September 2014, and in February 2016 the Liberal Government started studying the implementation of Family Day. On April 26, 2017, Premier Brian Gallant announced that New Brunswick would become the newest province to observe Family Day, beginning on February 19, 2018.