Canada

Layton urges Harper to make Family Day a national holiday

NDP Leader Jack Layton urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday to declare Family Day a national holiday instead of one that's celebrated by only some provinces.

NDP Leader Jack Layton urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Monday to declare Family Day a national holiday instead of one that's celebrated by only some provinces.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty visits families at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario in Ottawa, on Monday. ((Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press))

"A day off in the middle of winter is good for everyone," Layton said. "It's good for the spirit and encourages productivity."

Layton made the comments at a news conference in Ottawa where federal workers aren't entitled to the new provincial holiday called Family Day that other Ontarians get on the third Monday in February.

Ontario now joins Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba in observing a February statutory holiday. Ontario's new holiday was the result of a re-election promise by Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty last fall.

Feeling left out, the Federation of Labour on Prince Edward Island said it will urge Premier Robert Ghiz to create a new statutory holiday for Islanders in time for them to get a long weekend next February.

"Why do we [have] to be in last place all the time?" federation president Carl Pursey asked.

The new Ontario Family Day had some parents still complaining on radio call-in shows because they had to make alternate daycare arrangements when they themselves couldn't get the day off.

Many unionized workers across the province weren't entitled to Family Day because they already get more than the nine statutory holidays that they're entitled to under the Employment Standards Act.

Toronto city council decided that its police force would remain working on Family Day because it's too costly and officers already get paid for 12 statutory holidays.

With files from the Canadian Press

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