Family holiday irrelevant to Ontarians

Facing off in Family Day debate

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I’m not usually one to question a day off. As a student, a statutory holiday is usually good news " a day out of the classroom, an extra night to go out drinking and a much needed morning to sleep in.

Last year, Family Day set up a pretty sweet deal for Western students with a four-day week preceding our weeklong spring break. This year, however, the university has moved our Reading Week to coincide with Family Day. We’re changing our schedules to accommodate a holiday that doesn’t serve much of a purpose.

The most common explanation for Family Day is that we didn’t have a holiday in February or that the time between New Year’s Day and Easter is too long to go without a day off. To that I ask, so what? Since when does every month require a holiday?

The Ontario Ministry of Labour cites Family Day as a day for hard-working Ontarians to spend time with people they love. Except, of course, seasonal workers, taxicab drivers, professionals such as doctors and lawyers, construction workers and firefighters who are not entitled to take Family Day off or to receive public holiday pay. Somehow, members of these professions don’t fall under the category of hard-working or deserving of time off with their families. Since its induction last year, parents of the above-mentioned occupations have complained about having to find alternative childcare.

Details aside, the most infuriating thing about Family Day is the complete misuse of a statutory holiday to promote a one-dimensional approach to the family. We make the third Monday of February a holiday, label it Family Day, and suddenly the government is doing more to support Ontario families. In terms of government action and the family, there should be less of a push for traditional values and more of a focus on providing long-term support for all families, all-year round.

Family Day is the result of a Dalton McGuinty campaign promise packaged with a flaky assertion of support for Ontario families. Last year, the only relevant purpose it served was giving Western students a more leisurely than usual month of February.

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