New Brunswick announces new stat holiday: Family Day coming next February

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New Brunswick is getting a statutory holiday in February, Premier Brian Gallant announced Wednesday.

Starting next year, the paid public holiday to be known as Family Day will take place on the third Monday in February.

Eight other Canadian jurisdictions already have a paid holiday in February. Family Day will bring New Brunswick up to the national average of eight paid public holidays a year.

Business groups expressed concern the holiday just adds to their their growing costs, but Gallant suggested Family Day will help the province's economic efforts.

"We are focused on growing the economy and providing good quality of life for New Brunswickers," he said in a news release.

"This holiday will help families and communities come together and strike a good work-life balance during our often too long winter season. Having a good work-life balance helps increase productivity for our businesses and economy."

Last year, the New Brunswick government said it was exploring the idea of adding a statutory holiday in February.

The province said several departments worked on the proposal for a mid-winter holiday on the third Monday in February.

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Part of the review, according to the government, looked at whether the holiday should be a paid public holiday and how it would affect employers and other New Brunswickers.

But not everyone is welcoming the new holiday.

Krista Ross, CEO with the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, is calling for the results of the 2016 review.

She wants to know how the holiday will affect businesses and whether the province plans to do anything to mitigate the financial impact.

This year alone, Ross said, members have already experienced increases to the minimum wage and WorkSafeNB premiums. She said business owners can't afford any more cost increases.

"Adding a Family Day holiday or any statutory holiday simply increases costs to business," she said. "Anything that adds new cost to business, worries us."

Ross said a survey by the chamber has revealed the top concerns for Fredericton businesses is the actual cost of doing business in the province. 

"This announcement puts even more pressure on businesses and makes it more difficult to keep their doors open," she said.

"We want to keep people employed and working in Fredericton, and every time we increase the cost of doing business, we make that more difficult for businesses."  

Can business afford it?

Louis-Philippe Gauthier, director of provincial affairs for the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses, said the newest holiday doesn't come at a good time for small businesses in New Brunswick.

In 2014, 63 per cent of federation members in New Brunswick voted against a new statutory holiday. 

Another federation report saidi New Brunswick businesses have already seen a jump in property tax, the minimum wage, land transfer tax, HST and large business tax. 

In 2017 those businesses will see another increase in WorkSafeNB premiums, the minimum wage and EI contribution rates.

In 2018, businesses can also expect to see another increase in EI rates, as well as a  carbon tax in the province.

"You have to look at it within a whole of all the costs that will be continuing to add on in 2018," he said. "And it will surely not help.

"Put yourselves in the shoes of a small business … somebody has to pay. "

Not a new concept

The idea of a February holiday isn't new in the province.

Former premier Shawn Graham promised a holiday during his election campaign in 2010.

After losing the election, the Liberals continued to call for the creation of the February holiday while David Alward's Progressive Conservatives were in government.