A labour delegation to the Vaughan City Council, including members of Local 414, the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, and the United Food and Commercial Workers, ensured an important step forward for retail workers. Members of the delegation made presentations against statutory holiday shopping in front of City Council, which later voted in support of a motion for consultations in York region.
The labour coalition that Unifor is involved with is calling on municipalities in the York region to support a motion to request consultation on the bylaw. While the council already approved holiday shopping, which will affect many of York region’s 60,000 retail workers on Family Day (February 19), support from municipalities of York can help to reverse it.
Such a reversal, however, can’t happen within the first year but the bylaw can be revisited as early as the November 2018 York Regional Council meeting.
“While we were in the midst of this battle in the GTA, York Regional Council met only one day,” said Christine Connor, national representative, representing Unifor’s approximately 20,000 retail workers. “No consultations or anything close, and they put the motion forward to open 364 days a year and it was passed. So now we’re going to all the different municipalities to force York to bring it back to the table.”
In November 2017, York Regional Council passed a bylaw allowing retail stores to be open during statutory holidays except for Christmas Day in nine cities and townships. It came into effect on January 1 and was met with much criticism, especially since it was passed with no consultation and public discussion. Until that decision took effect, stores had to request an exemption allowing them to open on specific holidays.
Toronto, similarly, considered amending parts of the Holiday Shopping Act to allow stores to remain open during holidays, but the city council engaged in public consultations and consequently voted against a wholesale change of the bylaw. York region is located next to Toronto in Ontario.
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