The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has concerns in the event that B.C. follows the federal government in declaring Sept. 19 a holiday to recognize the late Queen Elizabeth II’s state funeral.
In a letter to Premier John Horgan, Minister of Labour Harry Bains and Vernon-Monashee MLA Harwinder Sandhu, the chamber recommended that the province allow businesses and non-profits to individually decide whether or not to provide a day of recognition on Sept. 19.
“Our chamber pays tribute to the significant accomplishments of Queen Elizabeth II during her 70-year reign. Her commitment to service to both Canada and the Commonwealth was truly inspirational,” the letter by chamber president Robin Cardew states. “However, we have concerns that the Province of B.C. will follow the lead of the Government of Canada and declare Sept. 19, 2022 as a holiday to recognize the Queen’s state funeral that day.”
The chamber’s first concern is that six days is not enough time for employers to adjust emloyee schedules and hours of operation.
The second concern is that businesses will lose a day of productivity, “particularly when they continue to struggle from inflation, the labour shortage and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Thirdly, the chamber is concerned that businesses choosing to remain open will have to compensate employees at a time of tight profit margins.
Finally, the chamber says a second statutory holiday in September would increase business expenses.
If the province is considering a Sept. 19 holiday, th chamber says there are some options to consider, including:
• Sept. 19 is a national bank holiday in the United Kingdom and workers in the U.K. are not entitled to time off;
• In Newfoundland and Labrador, businesses and non-government organizations will not be required to close or to treat the day as a paid holiday. “Businesses and other organizations in the province are encouraged to commemorate Her Majesty in a manner that works best for them,” states a government of Newfoundland media release;
• In Ontario, there will not be a statutory holiday, but residents of that province are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 1 p.m. ET on the day of the funeral.
“We believe there are alternatives for British Columbians to honour the Queen and reflect on her legacy Sept. 19, 2022 while ensuring that businesses and organizations across B.C. have the ability to select the course of action that is best for them and their employees,” the letter states.
The federal government has announced that Sept. 19 will be a national holiday for mourning, but that only gives federal employees the day off. The province of B.C. has yet to announce if it will follow suit in declaring it a holiday.