Ontario's small businesses bear cost of Family Day
TORONTO - A new holiday meant to bring Ontario families together may do the trick and boost morale but as the economy sags it's also being shunned as an unwanted tug on small business's bottom line.
Family Day, a ninth provincial statutory holiday introduced by Premier Dalton McGuinty in fall 2007, allows eligible workers to spend Monday off the job.
For Abdul Habib, a Sarnia, Ont., homebuilder for 20 years, the day amounts to more than a $2,000 cost he can't recoup.
"It's nice to have Family Day, of course, for ourselves but I feel it's a little bit of pain if you have 10 or 15 employees, who get a free payday," he said.
His family-owned business has suffered a loss of contracts since the economy took a nosedive and the day presents itself as yet another expense.
"It could have been time off, we don't object to that especially in this time of slow time," he said.
"I'm not against a holiday but it should be added that I have to look at myself as a survivor."
Small and medium-sized companies effectively end up footing the bill for the second annual holiday, said Judith Andrew, who represents 42,000 members in the Ontario wing of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.
Businesses that close shell out cash for a day void of productivity. Those that choose to remain open, such as retailers, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry, are required to pay premium wages.
"Whenever government adds more costs and burden on business, they often do that in good times, because they figure: `Oh, business can take it, they can shoulder it, they can handle it,"' Andrew said.
"And it made for a very nice announcement from the premier, it made him sound generous. But he was being generous with other people's money."
While there are several estimates out there, the federation projects the loss of a day's provincial output at $2 billion.
Among those included in the winter respite are most provincial employees and school, bank and library workers. Federal employees and those in federally regulated sectors will remain in the office, as will most unionized workers who already have more than nine paid holidays as part of their contracts.
At Snow Valley ski resort in Barrie, managers predicting a glorious day of winter fun conceded the day won't look so hot on the books.
Some 200 staff will finish the day with snugger than usual pocketbooks but guest services manager Jonathan Palmer is looking at the upside.
"The benefits outweigh the costs," he said.
"As long as the sun's out and we've got people out having a good time and spending money, then (Family Day is) a good thing."
Jordan Barker, who runs Barker Roofing in Waterloo, will be spending the day with his wife and three young children. He said it's worth the money to allow his four employees -- who also have children -- to do the same.
"It is a cost but like everything it's part of doing business," he said.
"I feel, as far as actually having to pay for holidays, it's certainly one of the better holidays to have to pay for."