Ontario, Canada celebrates Family Day

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario, Canada
Image: Joshua Sherurcij.

On Monday, February 18, many people in the Canadian province of Ontario are to get a new holiday from work and school.

Under new legislation passed shortly after their re-election in October, the provincial Liberal government under Premier Dalton McGuinty introduced the statutory holiday, called Family Day, to be celebrated on the third Monday of every February, starting this year.

"There is nothing more valuable to families than time together. And yet it seems tougher than ever to find, with so many of us living such busy lives," McGuinty was quoted as saying in a press release.

"That's why, on the third Monday of this coming February — and every February from now on — Ontarians deserve a new statutory holiday — Family Day."

Controversy

Due to the haste in which the holiday was introduced, courts were forced to reschedule cases booked before the holiday was approved. In Toronto, hundreds of drivers will receive an unexpected holiday from their traffic tickets as courts there have cancelled hundreds of minor cases.

The Canadian capital of Ottawa, Ontario is home to thousands of federal workers who are regulated under national rather than provincial labour laws, therefore Ontario's Family Day holiday does not apply to them. Meanwhile, management at the city's Rideau Centre mall was surprised to learn that a tourist-related exemption that normally allows their stores to open does not automatically apply for newly-introduced holidays such as Family Day.

An estimated 40% of Ontario workers will not receive more time away from work due to Family Day due to various exemptions, or because their work is not under provincial jurisdiction. Meanwhile, many businesses complain of extra costs incurred because of an extra statutory holiday.

Family Day elsewhere

Ontario joins the province of Alberta and Saskatchewan in celebrating a Family Day on the third Monday of February. The holiday coincides with Manitoba's Louis Riel Day, celebrated on the same day starting this year. South Africa and the Australian Capital Territory ("Family and Community Day") have yearly Family Days on other dates.


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