News Manitoba

Province announces start of review of Sunday shopping hours

The review of Manitoba's Sunday shopping legislation is underway and public input is welcomed, Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard announced Friday.

"We want to consider the options for making Sunday shopping less restrictive but at the same time respect the importance of having time to be with family," said Howard. "Other provinces have made changes to their legislation and now Manitoba's Sunday shopping rules are more restrictive than most other parts of the country."

Currently, the Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act does not allow retail businesses to be open on Sundays or certain holidays unless a municipality has passed a bylaw allowing it. If such a bylaw is in place, stores that regularly operate with four or more people can only be open from noon to 6 p.m.

Budget 2012 announced a public, business and labour consultation to look at loosening Sunday shopping restrictions. The minister said there are several factors affecting the decisions to be made:

* other jurisdictions have modernized their legislation;

* employees and employers have found other ways to have flexible schedules allowing workers to have family time;

* businesses want the flexibility to compete with other jurisdictions, cross-border shopping and the Internet; and

* consumers want more freedom of choice.

The Labour Management Review Committee (LMRC), comprised of representatives from both business and labour, has been asked to review the Sunday shopping hours. The committee will submit recommendations aimed at giving municipalities more flexibility to establish and have the final say on what Sunday shopping hours will be in their region. Shopping restrictions on Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Labour Day, Canada Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day and New Years will remain the same.

The committee will also look at ways to ensure workers can spend quality time with their families. In some provinces, retail employees are guaranteed two consecutive days off. In Manitoba, employees have had the right to refuse to work on Sundays if they weren't hired to do so. If shopping hours on Sunday are expanded, this right to refuse may also be extended.

Manitobans can share their views by visiting or sending comments by mail to Sunday Shopping Review, 604-401 York Ave., Winnipeg Manitoba, R3C 0P8. Comments should be received by May 11.