Wednesday, January 28, 2004

WANTED: MORE DAYS OFF

Last week RevMod and James Bow were discussing the need for a statutory holiday between New Year's and Easter. I completely concur. Canadians have almost the fewest paid days off throughout the year amongst other western nations. There was an article in The Star during the summer arguing that a few more days off would actually make people more productive. Whether that's true or not doesn't matter, we need more holidays. By my count we don't need just one, we need at least three. Here are my suggestions.

Obviously, as Bow and RevMod note, we need one at this time of year between New Year's and Easter. Bow and RevMod favour Chinese New Year, based on the Lunar New Year. This is a good suggestion but it could come too soon after our current New Year holiday. My prefered date is February 15 - Flag Day. It is currently a recognized day by the federal government we just don't get it off work. It marks the first day that the Maple Leaf was flown in Ottawa as the official flag of Canada. Its simple, its nationalistic and it falls in the middle of February, just when everyone needs a day off. Plus, the day already has its own mythology associated to it as a result of this incident.

Secondly, we need a holiday in June. We have a holiday in every other summer month except June. We have to suffer from Victoria Day to Canada Day without an opportunity for camping or barbecues. Our summers are short enough we need another day to enjoy them. And what better day than the official first day of summer? June 21st (occasionaly the 22nd, but no one would notice) marks the summer solstice. It is the longest day of the year, we should get to enjoy it. Further, June 21st is National Aboriginal People's day. We could also celebrate that and use the occasion to draw the attention of school children and others to historical and contemporary First Nations culture and other important related issues.

Finally, we need a holiday between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In late November when things at work and school are always busy and the weather is always dreary a holiday is definitely in order. The trouble here is finding an appropriate day. I considered advocating Remebrance Day as a statutory holiday but decided against it. I think it is more important for students and people at work to have their day interrupted to remind them of the importance of the occasion. Ideally everyone would take an hour out of their day and attend their local Remembrance Day ceremony but hopefully the two minutes of silence makes people contemplate the sacrifice of our war veterans. If we had the day off people would sleep in until 11:30 and the day would lose its meaning.

What day then? I'm at a bit of a loss. November 1st is All Saints Day. While it would be usefull for many to have the day after Halloween off, I doubt instituting a new holiday derrived from a Catholic religious tradition would go over very well. The only other options I have are not much better though. I looked through our nations history to try and find a day to commemorate. November 19th marks the day in 1869 when the government bought Ruperts Land from the Hudson Bay company thereby expanding Canadian territory into the North West. An important day but not really one worthy of celebration. November 21st marks the day in 1921 when our current coat of arms was made official by the King of England. Again, that's pretty lame. But other than that, I've got nothing else, so any suggestions would be welcome.

I think all Canadians can get behind the idea of having more days off.

Posted by Matthew @ 11:59 AM