By Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday November 12, 2014
Momentum seems to be gathering toward making Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday
Momentum seems to be gathering toward making Remembrance Day a national statutory holiday. Would it be a good thing?
Based on recent popular opinion, most Ontarians would say yes. And capitalizing on that populist sentiment, a private member’s bill is now being studied in Parliament. And why not? It’s already a holiday in most parts of Canada, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba being among the rare exceptions. All the bill would do is to make Nov. 11 a paid statutory holiday, as is the case with others like Victoria Day and Canada Day.
The case against it is not black and white. But there are things that should be considered. They include:
The economic cost. The Conference Board of Canada has said the cost of a national statutory holiday is something like $6.9 billion. That includes employer costs of $206 per full-time worker and $62 per part timer, as well as loss of productivity on that day which the board estimates at about $3.6 billion. Those concerns were raised about Family Day, but they’re not heard now out of fear of seeming disrespectful. But if we’re going to do this, let’s be honest about the cost.
The loss of opportunity. Schools are among the places where Remembrance Day is most assertively pursued. No doubt if Nov. 11 is a school day off there will still be curriculum, but will it have the same impact if the kids aren’t in school at 11 a.m.? What about the adults? Most, if asked, would probably say they would be sure to gather the family and observe remembrance either by attending ceremonies or at least watching them on TV. But will they? Do most families spend time reflecting on Queen Victoria Day, or even Canada Day? Or would Remembrance Day eventually become just another day off work and school, to be enjoyed without requisite thought and solemnity?
Growing commercialization. Businesses operate on stats and Nov. 11 would not be an exception, any more than Veterans Day is an exception in the U.S. There you can find Veterans Day discounts, free meals, Veteran’s Day car sales and Veteran’s Day coupons. In Alberta, where it’s already a holiday, businesses like Walmart are open as usual with sales to attract holiday shoppers. Maybe that’s fine. But surely we should at least ask ourselves if we want to further commercialize the day intended to remember our vets.
Here’s a thought. Wouldn’t it be more meaningful to honour our vets by dramatically improving woeful veteran services, funding and support, which see some military personnel living below the poverty line? With some of our most seriously hurt vets not qualifying for pension benefits? With inadequate services for PTSD-stricken vets?
Wouldn’t those things be more significant demonstrations of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice than taking a day off? (Source: Hamilton Spectator)
Reposted to iPolitics.com