New Brunswick needs a February holiday, Liberals say
Small business owner says a mid-winter holiday is a bad idea
Many Canadians are enjoying a statutory holiday on Monday and that is reviving the debate about whether New Brunswick needs a February holiday.
Prince Edward Island residents are celebrating Islander Day on Monday, joining those in Alberta, Ontario, Saskatchewan who are enjoying Family Day and Manitoba citizens are marking Louis Riel Day.
And British Columbia residents enjoyed their first Family Day last week.
Meanwhile, New Brunswickers will be waiting until late March before the next statutory holiday, which is Good Friday.
The provincial Liberals had promised to introduce a February holiday in the 2010 election.
But voters turned to David Alward's Progressive Conservatives in 2010 and the idea fizzled. Even in opposition, the Liberals are continuing to push for a mid-winter holiday.
Liberal MLA Chris Collins said the day off could be good for the population and even the economy.
"We have an issue with mental health and how much that is costing the taxpayers of New Brunswick and in other jurisdictions," he said.
"A rested work force is a productive work force."
The idea of a February holiday is drawing mixed reviews among businesses and citizens.
Richard Dunn, an official with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said a statutory holiday could cost the provincial economy roughly $24 million.
He said his organization, which represents small businesses, opposes the creation of a mid-winter holiday.
"Governments look great when they start talking about this because it is not their wallet that the money is coming out of," Dunn said.
John Staples, the owner of Staples Drugs in Moncton, said another holiday is not in the province's best interest.
He said with the economy in shambles, people need to be working.
"As a business owner, we don't need another holiday, we need to get working," Staples said.
New Brunswick holidays
- New Year's Day
- Good Friday
- Victoria Day
- Canada Day
- New Brunswick Day
- Labour Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Remembrance Day
- Christmas Day
- Boxing Day
"Governments are always complaining that we have to do something about the economy. If we shut down because of a statutory holiday that costs money and it does nothing for the economy."
Staples said storm days during the winter already hurt businesses financially. So, he said, he provincial government doesn't need to mandate other costly breaks, such as public holidays.
"So I tell people who want it, you go out and start your own business, I think you'll look at it differently. I say give your head a shake, I think that's it in a nutshell," he said.
But Staple’s view is contrasted with Mary Woods, a student from Prince Edward Island.
She's in New Brunswick visiting her sister, who's also at school.
Woods said Islander Day is especially nice now that she can see her sister — and gloat.
"Everyone looks forward to it," Woods said of the holiday.
"It's nice that I have a long weekend and she has to go to school on Monday."