New Legislation Expands Holiday and Sunday Shopping Hours in Manitoba

Authors: Christian Monnin, Christine Jeroski

Effective December 12, 2020, the Manitoba government will lift current restrictions requiring retail businesses in the province to close during certain statutory holidays and to limit their operating hours on Sundays.

Bill 4-The Retail Business Hours of Operation Act (Various Acts Amended or Repealed) (Bill 4) was reintroduced in the Manitoba Legislature on October 13, 2020 and received Royal Assent on December 3, 2020. The province announced that it will expedite the proclamation of Bill 4 so that it will become effective on Saturday, December 12, 2020.

The passing of Bill 4 into law comes with a number of changes to retailers. A summary of those changes is set out below.

Repeals The Retail Business Holiday Closing Act and The Shops Regulation Act

Under The Retail Business Holiday Closing Act (Holiday Closing Act) retail stores in the province are required to be closed on the following statutory holidays:

  • New Year’s Day
  • Good Friday
  • Easter Sunday
  • Canada Day
  • Labour Day
  • Christmas Day

The Holiday Closing Act also limits retail stores to operating between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m  on Louis Riel Day, Victoria Day, Thanksgiving Day and Sundays.

The passing of Bill 4 repeals the Holiday Closing Act and the hours of operation restrictions set out therein. Effective December 12, 2020, retail businesses are no longer required to close or reduce their hours of operation during the holidays listed above.

To note, the province will maintain current retail restrictions on Remembrance Day, which require retail stores to close between 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on November 11.

Bill 4 further repeals The Shops Regulation Act, which sets out the authority of local governments and municipalities to pass by-laws relating to retail business hours and the closing of shops, among other matters.

Amends The Employment Standards Code and The Remembrance Day Act

The passing of Bill 4 also amends The Employment Standards Code (ESC) and The Remembrance Day Act to provide retail workers the right to refuse to work on Sundays and Remembrance Day.

In either context, an employee who wishes to exercise their right to refuse to work on a Sunday or Remembrance Day is required to provide their employer 14 days’ notice, or as much notice as reasonably practicable if they are scheduled to work less than 14 days before the Sunday or Remembrance Day. Employers are prohibited from disciplining, terminating or otherwise discriminating against an employee who refuses or attempts to refuse to work on a Sunday or Remembrance Day.

Note that these rights are not new and were previously contained in the Holiday Closing Act. The passing of Bill 4 does not introduce new rights in this regard, but instead transfers the legislative authority of that right from the Holiday Closing Act to the ESC.

Other Changes

The passing of Bill 4 grants local governments authority over matters of retail hours and days of operation. In this regard, despite the repeal of the Holiday Closing Act and the restrictions set out therein, the elected councils of such municipalities or the City of Winnipeg have the discretion to pass by-laws which may restrict the ability of retail businesses to open on statutory holidays, Remembrance Day and Sundays. Note again that this is not a new power and was previously contained in the Holiday Closing Act and The Shops Regulation Act, which were both repealed.

The above changes should benefit retailers that have been negatively impacted by previous holiday closures and limited Sunday hours, especially with the challenges businesses are facing during the pandemic. Note that the changes described above do not require retailers to open on holidays or extend their hours of operation, and retailers may choose to extend their hours at their discretion (subject to municipal and city by-laws mandating closures).

Retailers considering how the passing of Bill 4 will affect their operations should reach out to a member of our Labour and Employment team in Winnipeg.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice of opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.