B.C. to make National Day for Truth and Reconciliation a paid statutory holiday
The B.C. government has introduced legislation to make Sept. 30 a paid statutory holiday marking the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
Labour Minister Harry Bains introduced a bill in the legislature Tuesday, saying the holiday will be observed this September and every Sept. 30 afterwards.
Bains told the legislature the government's decision on the holiday is in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's call to action No. 80, which requested the federal government establish a holiday to honour residential school survivors, their families and communities. The feds established a holiday for their workers in 2021.
INDIGENOUS LEADERS REACT
"I'm elated, it's certainly long overdue,” President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip told CTV News.
While pleased, Phillip says the work of reconciliation needs to be year-round.
"The only way we're going to have a paradigm shift in racist attitude in this country is if it's society-wide,”
“Rather than one single event, it's going to have to become a way of life,” Phillip said.
Tsleil-Waututh Nation Chief, Jen Thomas says she’s pleased, but still wants to see more action from other governing bodies.
“Let’s see how the municipalities and the schools will incorporate the history of it,” she said.
Thomas’ father Stan is a survivor of St Paul’s Residential School in North Vancouver.
“I think he’s going to be happy about the acknowledgement of this day and what it means for survivors,” she said.
CONCERNS FROM THE BUSINESS COMMUNITY
While acknowledging the importance of the day, some members of the business community are voicing concerns about the impact of paying employees for another stat holiday.
"Reaction from businesses is that this is going to be yet another cost increase on top of many other increases that have occurred during the past year and of course even throughout the pandemic,” said the B.C. representative for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Annie Dormuth.
“Keep in mind just this year during the pandemic the B.C. Government added five employer-paid sick days to businesses as an additional cost,”
“On top of employer health taxes, with the rise of minimum wage and a tight labour market, all of this is adding up,” Dormuth said.
Dormuth says they’re calling on the province to include some type of financial relief for businesses in the annual budget later this month. ,
B.C. will join Prince Edward Island, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Yukon and Canada as jurisdictions that have already designated Sept. 30 as a statutory holiday, if the legislation passes.
With files from The Canadian Press
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