Labour Day family picnic in Kelowna a time to relax and remember

Event helps focus on what organized labour has done to help this province, say organizers.

Volunteer barbecue chef Ronn Dunn flips burgers at the annual North Okanagan Labour Council Labour Day family picnic Monday afternoon in Kelowna's Mission Creek Park.

It’s said all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

So the North Okanagan Labour Council made sure to mark Labour Day in Kelowna Monday with a fun event for the whole family—it’s annual Labour Day Family picnic.

The event, in Mission Creek Park, drew hundreds and while fun was at the forefront of the picnic—complete with a barbecue, bouncy castle for the kids and several information booths—spokeswoman Carole Gordon said there was an underlying important message also being expressed.

“This is to mark Labour Day, a day when we look at what labour has done and the advances it has helped create,” said Gordon.

She said organized labour doesn’t just work for union members but for the whole community.

And, at a time when B.C. has one of the lowest minimum wages in the country—despite the latest increase and another small increase slated for next year—it’s imperative to bring wage levels up for the  lowest earners in society, she said.

According to Gordon, with high housing costs here, a lack of affordable daycare and dearth of good-paying jobs, many are falling farther and father behind.

She said while there has been some improvement, often it is lead by changes at the federal level and the province then adjusting to catch up. She pointed to changes in parental leave as an example.

However, it should be noted that in many areas, the provincial labour code does go father than the federal labour code when it comes to benefits for workers.

Gordon, a teacher and former two-time NDP candidate in Westside-Kelowna who lost to Liberal Ben Stewart in the 2013 provincial election and then to Premier Christy Clark in the subsequent byelection a few months later when Clark replaced Stewart—said while Labour Day marks a time to celebrate how far labour has come in this province, there is still a ways to go.

“I haven’t seen the child poverty rate improve (in B.C.),” she said.

But on Monday, in Mission Creek Park, under sunny skies, most seemed happy just to watch the kids play, eat a burger and enjoy the day off work.