Canada Day retail rules different in N.S. and N.B., retail council calling for change

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WATCH: While retailers in Nova Scotia will stay closed on July 1 stores in New Brunswick will be open for business, observing the holiday the following day, a move The Retail Council of Canada calls “bizarre”. Jeremy Keefe reports.

Where you can shop and what services you can receive this Canada Day depends on where you are in the Maritimes, as most provinces have chosen to override federal regulations surrounding the observation of the holiday.

READ MORE: What’s open and what’s closed this Canada Day in Halifax

“If your boss tells you, ‘Do you want July 1st off or July 2nd?’ It was a no-brainer,” said Jim Cormier, the atlantic director for the Retail Council of Canada.

“The response was overwhelming.”

The organization applauded the Nova Scotia government for surveying retail employees ahead of the holiday, which falls on a Sunday, and for making changes to the Federal Holidays Act. The act states in such an instance, Canada Day is to be observed the following Monday.

While provincial or municipal governments have made similar accommodations countrywide in anticipation of the infrequent situation, New Brunswick is bucking the trend.

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“In Nova Scotia this Sunday on Canada Day, retail will be closed. Retail workers will enjoy a day off with their family and friends,” Cormier explained. “Then on Monday July 2nd, they’ll be open for business. In New Brunswick it’ll be the exact opposite.”

“The difference in New Brunswick is a complete lack of action.”

Cormier calls it “outdated legislation” designed for civil servants and those working Monday to Friday jobs, unlike retail employees who are seven-day workers.

While he says they support the next-day observation for those sectors, they’re frustrated that their voice hasn’t been heard in New Brunswick.

“We’ve asked them for over six years now as the Retail Council of Canada to make this very simple change,” he said.

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“This is something that’s all about updating outdated legislation, federal legislation that was only ever meant to apply to the federal civil service,” he said. “It harkens back to a day before Sunday shopping.”

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The New Brunswick Department of Environment and Local Government provided a statement which said, “We appreciate concerns about the importance of employees being able to enjoy holidays while at the same time ensuring that retailers continue to be able to meet the needs of their customers. When Canada Day falls on a Sunday, July 1st, the federal Holidays Act requires that Canada Day be observed on Monday, July 2nd. This has been in practice for many years. As our Government continues to work toward strengthening the province’s economy and making New Brunswick a better place to live, we will take these concerns into consideration.”

And government has time to think about the changes.

Canada Day doesn’t fall on a Sunday again until 2029.

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