Don Orange: Why Family and Medical Leave would be good for my business

Good morning. I’m Don Orange, owner of Hoesly Eco Automotive in Vancouver. I also chair the Main Street Alliance of Washington, which represents small businesses across the state. I’m here today to support Family and Medical Leave Insurance.

This hearing is very timely. One of my 4 employees could use this program right now. His wife just had emergency stomach surgery, and has a long recovery ahead of her. Now he’s trying to juggle caring for her and their three teenagers with working enough hours to keep them afloat.

Times have been tough for businesses like mine for the past few years – but the premiums for this insurance would be a good investment.

It’s actually costing society a lot more not to have this kind of insurance available.

When I think about my guy and his teenagers, I can’t help but think of another 16-year-old boy who made the news in Vancouver a couple weeks ago. People who knew him said he wasn’t a bad kid, but he made some bad mistakes, hurt some people, and ended up dead.

How many kids mess up when their parents are distracted by a health crisis that become s a financial crisis? I think there would be fewer incidents like this if all parents had a little more support to care for their children from the start.

If all moms and dads could take some time away from work with a new baby without going broke or risking their jobs, that would create bonds of love and trust strong enough to hold through those rocky teenage years.

Anyone can be in a car accident, or get cancer, or have a spouse or aging parent suffer a health emergency. But many small companies like mine can’t cover long periods of leave.

My employees are important to the success of my business – and so are loyal customers. When people’s budgets are tight, they postpone car repairs and don’t patronize neighborhood businesses as much.

By ensuring a new baby or medical condition doesn’t throw a family into poverty, this program will help our economy and save the government money on social services.

Family and medical leave insurance will be good for my business, but that’s not why I took the time to come here today. I’m here because this program will strengthen families in my community, and there’s nothing more important than that.

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