BC to Get New Public Holiday in February

May 17, 2012 Updated: April 6, 2013

 As B.C. ruminates on which day would be best to set aside for Family Day, a recent survey reveals that Canada has the fewest public holidays of any developed nation in the world.

The BC Liberals are holding online consultations from now until May 22 asking British Columbians to choose which day in February they prefer for Family Day—an annual holiday already celebrated in Alberta, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.

Manitoba and P.E.I. also have statutory holidays on the third Monday in February, but they are not officially referred to as Family Day.

The new B.C. holiday, set to come into effect in February 2013, aims to provide a break for families during the long 94-day stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter.

As part of the consultation process, the government will hear from the tourism industry and the broader business sector as well as the general public on whether to have the holiday either on the second or third Monday in February.

Having Family Day on the second Monday would mean that British Columbians wouldn’t have to compete for vacation spots with neighbouring provinces and U.S. states that already have a long weekend on the third Monday. It would also mean B.C. businesses could capitalize on increased traffic over two holiday weekends.

Alternatively, the third Monday aligns the Family Day long weekend with other provinces and neighbouring U.S. states, making it easier for families in different jurisdictions to get together and for B.C. businesses that operate across Canada to plan.

Fewer Holidays in Canada

An extra holiday may be a welcome relief for many, as a recent survey suggests Canada has fewer government-mandated holidays than any developed country in the world.

Released in December by U.K.-based Mercer Consulting, the survey found that Canada has a total of 19 potential days off, including calendar holidays and minimum vacation requirements for full-time staff.

The United States, on the other hand, has 25 days, Australia has 30, and Western European countries come out on top with 34-38 days per year.

Of all the 62 nations surveyed, Canada ranked at the bottom, alongside countries such as the Philippines (20 days), China (21), and Thailand (22).

Wolfgang Seidl, head of health care consulting at Mercer, says more time off does not necessarily mean less revenue for businesses in the long run, and can actually translate into more balanced, productive staff.

 “Despite continued economic turmoil, interest in the issue work/life balance continues to grow. From the employee’s and company’s perspective, health creates wealth,” Seidl said in a release.

“Companies recognize that a healthy, happy workforce is a productive one and this feeds directly into the bottom line.”