Schools across the province were closed on Monday, enough so to make you think that it was a holiday. It wasn't, of course ... but it got us thinking: should there be a holiday in February?
Six provinces have a holiday on a Monday in February. For most, like in Ontario and Manitoba, it's the third Monday of the month, while British Columbia has its on the second Monday. It's known as Family Day in Ontario and Alberta, Riel Day in Manitoba and Islander Day in Prince Edward Island. (The third Monday in February also happens to be the Presidents Day holiday in the U.S.)
Newfoundland and Labrador currently has six public holidays on the books: New Year's Day, Good Friday, Memorial Day (which coincides with Canada Day, on July 1), Labour Day, Remembrance Day and Christmas Day.
There are other holidays, of course, but with qualifications. Some collective agreements, for instance, make a holiday of St. Patrick's Day, but others do not.
A public holiday applies to all workers, or at least (according to provincial law) to those who have worked for at least 30 days before the given holiday. The law requires that those who are called to work on a public holiday receive double their wages. Many businesses and government offices, though, close on public holidays.
The issue has been bubbling for a number of years. Former premier Danny Williams said he was open to considering a mid-winter holiday, and saw a reason to provide one.
"In Newfoundland and Labrador, that January-April period can sometimes be a dour period," Williams said in 2007.
But business groups have opposed proposals. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated seven years ago that a new holiday would mean a productivity loss for Newfoundland and Labrador employers of $90 million.