Sunday shopping hours in Manitoba are going to be relaxed – but just what that means is still up for discussion.
Finance Minister Stan Struthers will make the announcement this afternoon during the presentation of the provincial budget.
The province will be consulting business owners and consumers on what hours – and other restrictions – will be changing.
"We don’t know the hours yet," said Chuck Davidson of the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce, Tuesday morning. "Manitoba currently has the most restrictive hours in North America."
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce has been active for years in having Sunday hours extended. But the current times, from noon until 6 p.m., aren’t the only restrictions on a Sunday in Manitoba; employees also have the right to refuse work on the last day of the weekend.
"What we would suggest is that there won’t be restrictions," said Davidson, who adds there is a "balance" to be reached between businesses and employees.
"Let’s bring on the consultations... it would be great to have this in place before retailers go into the summer season," said Davidson.
Not everybody is happy with the anticipated changes, however. Jeff Traeger, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 832, Manitoba’s largest retail union, said he was disappointed he wasn’t consulted on the contentious issue before it was included in the spring budget.
He is concerned that Manitobans not protected by a union collective agreement will be forced to work Sundays.
"I appreciate the desire for the public to want 'round-the-clock shopping, (but) those who want it are usually not the ones who have to work it," he said.
The more than 7,500 employees at Safeway, Lowlaws, Sobeys, IGA and Co-op stores have collective agreements in place, ensuring that Sunday shifts are voluntary and receive a premium wage.
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