The Surrey Board of Trade renews their call for Family Day Alignment.
While British Columbia has a statutory holiday (Family Day) on the 2nd Monday of February, five other provinces observe holidays on the 3rd Monday of February, which is also a federal holiday in the United States of America. For companies that conduct business in other parts of Canada or in the United States, this misalignment of holidays creates a barrier to commerce and trade and is an inconvenience to businesses of all sizes and sectors. Alignment of BC’s Family Day with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions is necessary to ensure that business productivity and economic activity is not unduly adversely affected by the holiday.
“We have heard from our members, particularly those that have business connections and clients throughout Canada and the USA, that this holiday misalignment causes workplace challenges and financial impacts,” said CEO Anita Huberman.
“I hope that Premier Horgan follows through with this,” said Huberman, referring to the interview that Premier Horgan gave on Friday, October 20, where he stated that he has supported alignment for “a long time.”
The Surrey Board of Trade developed a policy in 2016 to recommend that the government of the day align the February holidays for the sake of the economy and for families. Chambers whose members have business contacts and clients across Canada supported the policy, but those whose members primarily rely on tourism did not.
The Surrey Board of Trade recognizes that the tourism industry would like to continue with the separation of holidays, however, the economic benefit derived from alignment will greatly assist the small and medium sized businesses across the province.
The Surrey Board of Trade has a membership of over 2,400 businesses in Surrey and the South Fraser region with connections numbering over 6,000 and representing a workforce of over 60,000.
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FULL POLICY STATEMENT:
Aligning BC’s Family Day with the February Holidays of Neighbouring Jurisdictions
While British Columbia has a statutory holiday (Family Day) on the 2nd Monday of February, five other provinces observe holidays on the 3rd Monday of February, which is also a federal holiday in the United States of America. For companies, which conduct business in other parts of Canada or in the United States, this misalignment of holidays creates a barrier to commerce and trade and is an inconvenience to businesses of all sizes and sectors. Alignment of BC’s Family Day with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions is necessary to ensure that business productivity and economic activity is not unduly adversely affected by the holiday.
BC’s Family Day holiday was first proposed by Premier Christy Clark during her successful run for the leadership of the BC Liberal Party in early 2011. Later, in that year’s Speech from the Throne, it was announced that BC’s first Family Day holiday would be observed on February 18, 2013—the 3rd Monday of February. However, later a two-week online consultation process was held to determine if British Columbians preferred the holiday to fall on the 2nd or 3rd Monday in February. Following a public campaign by some in the tourism industry to promote the 2nd Monday as a way to boost their mid-February sales, the respondents to the online poll expressed a preference for the 2nd Monday.
Unfortunately, four years of this misaligned holiday have shown that it has negative impacts on the operations of businesses across the province. Companies that conduct business in other provinces or in the United States are negatively impacted by the misaligned holiday in many ways, including wasted staff time and missed business opportunities. When offices in BC are closed for Family Day but firms are operating in all neighbouring jurisdictions, local businesses are unable to service their interprovincial or American customers and may be unable to capitalize on potential sales or other opportunities. Then, come the 3rd Monday in February, the employees of those same local businesses may largely be sitting idle, wasting staff time as they are unable to reach those same clients who are then closed due to their own holiday.
The misalignment of Family Day causes inconvenience, increased costs, and lost opportunity for businesses of all sizes and in myriad industries. From the financial services sector which still has to operate when markets in Toronto or New York are open, to the film and television industry which must stay open on Family Day to coordinate with the industry hub in California, to any company that has customers, ships product, or does business outside of BC, the misalignment of Family Day is a unnecessary inconvenience and burden.
To put the economic impact in context, the following indicates revenues generated by interprovincial trade between BC and the rest of Canada. Interprovincial trade accounts for 44% of BC’s total complement of trading partners. The value of interprovincial export of goods and services from BC is valued at more than $37 billion.[i] Of that, fully 81.5% or $30.5 billion is conducted with provinces, which have February holidays that are misaligned with BC’s Family Day. The value of one business day’s interprovincial export between BC and the six misaligned provinces is in excess of $120 million. This does not include the nearly $18 billion in annual BC exports to the United States[ii] (or over $71 million per business day) whose manufacturers and suppliers are also inconvenienced on the 3rd Monday in February because of the President’s Day holiday in the United States.
The solution to this problem is to align BC’s Family Day with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions, which are all observed on the 3rd Monday in February. There is little legal impediment to changing the date and such a change would be relatively simple for the provincial government to make; the Family Day Act does not designate a specific date but instead empowers cabinet to prescribe a day in February to be observed.
THE SURREY BOARD OF TRADE RECOMMENDS:
That the Provincial Government continue its history of reducing unnecessary burdens on business; and, align BC’s Family Day holiday with the February holidays of neighbouring jurisdictions by moving the date Family Day is observed to the 3rd Monday of February.
[i] Exports of Goods and Services to Other Provinces, by Province/Territory, BC Stats, accessed at: http://bcstats.gov.bc.ca/StatisticsBySubject/ExportsImports/Data.aspx
[ii] Trade Profile – United States, BC Stats, accessed at: http://www.bcstats.gov.bc.ca/statisticsbysubject/ExportsImports/Data/CountryTradeProfiles/TradeProfileUnitedStates.aspx