Column: Celebrating hard work

Working people are the engine of the economy. Their work is significant to a strong B.C. and a secure tomorrow.

Working people are the engine of the economy. Their work is significant to a strong B.C. and a secure tomorrow. Labour Day has been an official holiday in Canada since 1894, less than three decades after Confederation. The roots of the holiday date back to the 1870s, when unions began pushing for a shorter working day. At the time, 12 hour working days were common, leading to the creation of the so-called “Nine-Hour Movement.”

To many people, Labour Day weekend marks the end of summer and the start of a new school year, but that is not its true origins.

Observing Labour Day (on the first Monday of September) provides us an opportunity to celebrate the role of workers in the economy, whether they are full-time, part-time, temporary, contract or self-employed.

This important day also gives us a chance to not only reflect on our own work but also the work environments we often take for granted that have been a result of past governments and the efforts of the labour movement. Labour Day gives us a chance to also look forward towards all the employment opportunities that are ahead for our province, including an increase in demand for more skills training and taking advantage of our world-class education system here in B.C. Today’s workforce and business environment is different from years past.

We truly do have unprecedented opportunities before us, and with those opportunities come tremendous challenges such as growing our skilled workforce to meet the large demands ahead in industries like liquefied natural gas.

As we enter autumn, may we recognize this statutory holiday as a time to reflect on the people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and across our province who make living here a better place to live, go to school, work and play.

One of the ways we can support the hard work of those in our province is by buying local. Why is this important? Because local businesses provide jobs for our friends and families and small businesses employ more than one million people in B.C. and provide about 54 per cent of all private-sector jobs, the third-highest rate in Canada. This Labour Day, I want to express my gratitude for all the great work of British Columbians. We honour and salute all working British Columbians for their efforts.

Donna Barnett is the Liberal MLA for the Cariboo-Chilcotin.