Monday, January 14, 2008

An Update on Ontario's First Family Day

On October 11, 2007, Premier Dalton McGuinty established “Family Day” as a new statutory holiday in the Province of Ontario to fall on the 3rd Monday in the month of February.

Last week the Canadian Press reported on some controversies arising as a result of the new statutory holiday:

Ontario's Employment Standards Act calls for nine paid statutory holidays a year, including Family Day, so many workers are being told they won't qualify for the new holiday - which falls on the third Monday of February each year - until it is negotiated in future contracts.

There are concerns that many unionized workers will not get Family Day unless their existing contracts specifically allow for an additional holiday, which CUPE Ontario president Sid Ryan warned Tuesday will lead to labour unrest.
Some employers who have been advised that they do not qualify for Family Day in accordance with the Employment Standards Act and their current contracts have been offered the option of a “trade off” with another day off to which they are currently entitled.

In addition, the City of Toronto alone expects a cost of 5 million dollars to provide municipal and transit workers the day off work. Police, firefighters and federal employees such as banks and airlines, are expected to be at work on Family Day.

There has also been some recent controversy with respect to how Family Day will affect Court dates.
McGuinty said he isn't worried about people who have been issued traffic tickets telling them to appear in court Feb. 18 - when the courts will be closed - and he dismissed opposition claims that those charged with traffic offences could be off the hook if their original court dates are not rescheduled.

"We're going to have to find a way to iron out some of the wrinkles that develop as we bring in place the very first Family Day," McGuinty said. "Undoubtedly there were wrinkles of this nature when they first put in place the original eight statutory holidays."

Attorney General Chris Bentley said he is confident all criminal charges originally set for Feb. 18 court dates have been rescheduled, and that local governments have had time to reschedule traffic cases in their jurisdictions.
Ontario’s first Family Day is scheduled for February 18, 2008.

- Annie Noa Kenet, Toronto

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