Push to repeal bylaw permitting stores in York Region to open on holidays

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Many retailers in York Region and other areas around the GTA stay open on holidays like the recent Family Day. But labour groups and politicians are now wondering if that was a good idea.

Councillors in York Region, which consists of nine municipalities including Markham, Vaughan and Richmond Hill, voted 17-3 in favour of the Holiday Shopping Bylaw in November.

The legislation exempts all businesses from a provincial law requiring them to close on nine statutory holidays each year. They’re now able to open, if they choose, for 364 days per year — every day except December 25.

The Toronto and York Region Labour Council has drafted a petition urging York Region to reconsider the bylaw, saying the extra days will cut into retail workers’ valuable time with their families.

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The truth of the matter is that thousands of families find it hard to schedule time together as a family and often these statutory holidays are the only days they are guaranteed time together.

“Often, that’s the only guaranteed time that people According to the York Region Employment and Industry Report, approximately 64,000 people are employed in the retail sector in the region.

Cartwright said many of them work two or three jobs to get by.

Ontario’s Retail Business Holidays Act requires retailers to close on New Year’s Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

Some businesses are exempted, including gas stations, pharmacies and any business under 225 square metres. The law also permits municipalities to exempt themselves from the requirements.
The Retail Council of Canada applauded York Region’s decision, and said it is now lobbying neighbouring Peel Region to make a similar change.

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He said while employees will receive extra pay for working holidays like Family Day, he worries that may not last.

Unfortunately, many retail workers often work more than one job to make ends meet and are stuck working shifts and weekends. The precarious nature of their employment makes a day off with pay not a luxury but a much-needed necessity. – CINEWS

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