From panning plan to loving Family Day

Kamloops' two Liberal MLAs now approve of a plan to add a late winter statutory holiday

They warned about the potential harm it would bring to the economy, but Kamloops’ two Liberal MLAs now approve of a plan to add a late winter statutory holiday.

As a leadership hopeful for the B.C. Liberal Party at the beginning of the year, Christy Clark promised to introduce a Family Day holiday during February.

Nine months later, the proposed holiday became a reality as part of the premier’s Oct. 3 throne speech.

At the time of the leadership contest, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger told KTW he was opposed to the idea.

He said he had looked into a February holiday to celebrate the Olympics, but said his research showed it would come at a “horrendous” cost to the government and private sector.

Krueger noted during a statutory holiday, collective agreements kick in for all kinds of 24-hour government services, from police officers to hospital staff, who get paid double or triple time.

“It’s a big-ticket item,” Krueger said at the time, arguing it would take money away from other programs, such as arts grants and children’s and sports programs.

He also added he wished Clark had spoken with some Liberal MLAs before floating the idea.

Today, Krueger is defending Clark’s creation, calling the holiday “something that is affordable” and in keeping with Clark’s family-first agenda.

“She made promises as a person seeking the [Liberal party] leadership. She won the leadership, so she’s keeping her promises,” he said.

“I certainly don’t fault her for that.”

Krueger still believes the stat will be costly, but he praised the premier’s decision to wait to implement the holiday until 2013.

He suggested the delay is in recognition of the tough economic time facing the province and the financial hit from losing the harmonized sales tax.

Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake was also cool to the idea earlier this year, but has since warmed up to Family Day.

He said there is always a balance between the interest of business and families, and he predicted the holiday would be popular with the latter.

Lake said the extra day off will have an impact on businesses, but noted there are positives and negatives with any decision.

“We’re going to have to work with small businesses particularly to ensure that we give them a chance to adjust,” he said.

Lake added the positive benefits of giving people an extra day to “recharge” is harder to quantify than the economic impact of the holiday.

Maurice Hindle, the new president of the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce, is not impressed with Family Day, saying another day without productivity could put businesses in B.C. at a disadvantage with other jurisdictions.

He said the chamber has no formal plans to lobby the government to change the proposed legislation, but noted the provincial organization might take a position on the issue in the future.

Interestingly, when asked by KTW how the two MLAs intend to spend their time on Family Day, both Krueger and Lake said they’ll probably just end up working.

– Kamloops This Week