Today is the inaugural "Family Day," a brand-new statutory holiday implemented by the provincial McGuinty Liberal government, for no apparent reason apart from there being no other stat holiday between New Year's day and Easter.
Ostensibly, the holiday is intended for workers to spend more time with their families - noble enough, I suppose. But only something like half of the people who work in the province are actually entitled to the day off. Federal employees work. Restaurants are open. Essential services (like police and firemen) are still on call.
Unfortunately, I am not one of those. I work in the private sector, and I work freelance, so I'm not entitled to holiday pay.
Worse, I'm single and living away from home, so I have no family to spend more time with. (I could hop the bus and go home - if I worked today and got paid.)
So I'm stuck commemorating a silly-named government holiday at my own expense. What should I do? I know, I'll go to the library. Oh, wait, library's closed. I'll go shopping. Oh, can't do that either - even at the stores in Ottawa's designated tourist areas, since apparently no one bothered to tell them they had to apply to stay open on Family Day, so they're closed. I need a haircut, but the barber shop is closed. I could just stay home and get drunk. Except that I'm out of beer and the liquor store is closed.
We don't need a special holiday to spend time with our families. We need a culture that values family and makes provisions for them to function as a family. That means employers not demanding ridiculous hours of overtime (and workaholic employees refusing to take it) so that families can eat together. It means parents helping their kids with their homework, and everyone staying home most nights rather than rushing off to 5,000 different extracurricular activities. It means Christian families sitting together in church rather than instantly segregated into a myriad of age-appropriate programs. It's the culture that needs changing, not the work timetable.
As for me, I'm bored as hell. I'd rather be working.