Petition calls on government to align B.C.'s Family Day with other provinces

A Vancouver man is pressing on with his two-year campaign to convince the B.C. government to align Family Day with other Family Days in Canada.

B.C.’s Family Day lands on the second Monday in February — this year Feb. 13 — but other provinces such as Alberta and Saskatchewan schedule Family Day on the third Monday. The United States also celebrates President’s Day on the third Monday in February.

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Since it was posted online in 2015, Andrew Johns’ #UniteFamilyDay petition has attracted 18,651 supporters.

Johns, who works in financial services, says there is an economic and a social impact to not aligning the dates.

He’s personally affected because he works in the financial markets.

“Next week on Monday when most British Columbians will be taking the day off, myself and my staff have to work because the financial markets are open and we have to be here,” he said. “There’s a strong argument that can be made about the inefficiency of having a holiday on the second Monday versus the third Monday in the rest of the country and the United States. And there’s also a social impact because there’s a lot of people who don’t get to spend time with their family.”

In some cases, he said, their family members might live in other parts of the country. Or one member of a couple might work for a national corporation or organization and have a different day off than their spouse or partner.

B.C.’s first Family Day was in 2013. The second Monday in February was selected following a consultation process, according to the government announcement at the time.

A web poll commissioned by the government collected 31,146 responses and 3,069 comments. The second Monday of the month earned support from 18,202 respondents, 9,436 selected the third Monday, and 3,508 had no preference.

That said, Johns is optimistic the date will eventually be changed because he’s convinced most British Columbians agree with him.

“That’s the feedback we get. For the odd person who says just leave it alone, there’s 20 or 30 people who say let’s get it changed,” he said.

Johns believes the government was lobbied by the ski industry to set Family Day on the second Monday, and he’s not convinced the poll results reflect true public opinion.

“The problem with this poll is it wasn’t very well administered. There’s a good chance that a lot of the responses were duplicate and triplicate entries by people who were really keen on having it on the second Monday in February,” he argues.

Although Johns has earned support for his petition from Vancouver-Point Grey MLA David Eby and provincial Green Party leader Andrew Weaver — both of whom appear on a promotional YouTube video for Johns’ #UniteFamilyDay campaign — he said his campaign is not meant to be partisan and he's not a member of a political party.

John's hasn’t received any response from the B.C. Liberal government, but he's not backing off.

“I’m definitely not giving up [on the campaign] at this point. Not with the amount of people who are supporting me on it,” he said.

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