Photos from the 2011 Federal Election

Monday, January 17, 2011

The archaic Retail Business Holidays Act

This letter was published in the Markham Economist on Jan. 15, 2011.

Thanks for running the story of the three businesses that remained open during Christmas and New Years in Markham.

It is time to reconsider the entire Retail Business Holidays Act that stipulates which businesses may be open on the nine statutory holidays each year.

Stores that are fortunate enough to be in tourist areas are exempt, except on Christmas. This is arbitrary and unfair to everyone.

Markham is certainly one of the most diverse communities in Canada, possibly North America. So why should a sweeping government edict like the above Act apply here, indeed why should it apply anywhere in the province?

Many will recall that prior to June 1992 Sunday shopping was illegal in Ontario even though many businesses flouted the law. It was not until 1996 that Boxing Day shopping was “allowed.” Imagine if in the present day an arbitrary statute prohibited Sunday or Boxing Day shopping.

I believe businesses should be free to operate at their own risk. If people do not want to shop on statutory holidays then those businesses that are open will suffer. On the other hand if stores are open at their own discretion, employees will have the opportunity to earn money and shoppers will have more choice. I suspect that shoppers will “vote” with their feet and shop, and an archaic, anachronistic law will disappear finally.

Our police services have better things to do than charge otherwise law abiding retailers as might yet happen in this instance. Those three businesses should be commended for leading in this matter.

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