New stat goes by wayside in federally focused city

A new provincial winter holiday yesterday didn’t mean nearly as much in a town where many of the jobs are with the federal government.

Most workers in Ottawa are employed federally, meaning that the new Family Day stat announced by Premier Dalton McGuinty — an Ottawa MPP — as part of last year’s provincial election campaign did little except make them expend vacation time if they wanted a day off that others received by default.


A Canada Revenue Agency employee, Brenna Rivier wasn’t supposed to get the new Family Day off yesterday. She had to use a vacation day in order to spend time with her four-year-old daughter, Sadie.

She felt it was important to make sure she was available on a day intended to foster quality time among family members. She and Sadie checked out the Family Day ‘Foster a Snow Angel’ event at Parliament Hill, before visiting the library together.

"I think it’s about time we started to celebrate families," said Rivier. "Family Day should be how we live. I think it should be bigger than one day a year."

Canada Customs employee Youssef De Benjamin also had to expend a holiday day to spend time with his wife, Maha, and their three young children.

"Other than weekends, we don’t have enough time for families," he said. "We come home from work and sleep."

For Carmen Radburn, Family Day didn’t apply equally to her loved ones. While Radburn — a human resources consultant — had the day off, her federally-employed husband had to work.

"It’s not a complete family day," Radburn said.

Still, she was grateful for time spent with her children.

"It gets them active and it’s good that stores are closed so that you have to find alternative activities," she said. "People are always talking about the importance of work-life balance and it’s so difficult to achieve at times."

something for everyone?

  • Youssef De Benjamin hopes the holiday will be more inclusive next year, encompassing all Ontarians, regardless of their employment.