Open Letter - Re: Family Day (February 18th) in Ontario

    TORONTO, Jan. 9 /CNW/ -

    Open Letter

    Mr. Doug Reycraft
    Association of Municipalities of Ontario
    801-200 University Avenue
    Toronto, ON   M5H 3C6

    Mayors, Reeves and Councillors
    All Municipalities in the Province of Ontario

    Re:  Family Day (February 18th) in Ontario

    Dear President Reycraft and Ontario Municipal Leaders,

    Retail Council of Canada (RCC) is the Voice of Retail in Canada
representing over 40,000 small, mid-sized and large retailers across the
country - with thousands of those operating in towns and cities across
    Recently, the Ontario government proclaimed Family Day as the province's
ninth statutory holiday - to occur on the Third Monday of every February,
starting this year.
    As Family Day has been designated as a statutory holiday by the McGuinty
government, most retail stores across the province will be required to close
this February 18th, unless they fall under one of the province's exemption
categories (ie. book or magazine stores under 2,400 square feet with a maximum
of three employees, pharmacies under 7,500 square feet or gas stations, to
name a few).
    The most important exemption for retailers is the designation of
specified areas within a municipality as 'tourist destination areas'. As you
are aware, many municipalities have passed by-laws establishing these zones
thereby allowing retailers operating in them to open on statutory holidays.
These retailers are accustomed to being open on holidays and serve the people
who are visiting the many tourist spots that our province has to offer. They
play an important role in keeping our local economies moving, pay their
employees in accordance with the law and obey the province's employment
standards laws.
    However the differing ways in which municipalities have enacted their
by-laws establishing 'tourist destination areas' appears to be creating
considerable confusion and uncertainty, both for retailers and municipal
administrators and may result in different outcomes.       After a number of
random calls to municipal offices across the province, RCC was surprised to
find that some municipalities planned to extend 'tourist destination area'
by-law exemptions to Family Day, some were not sure - while others said they
would not. An important factor in this varied response would appear to be how
municipalities have enacted their by-laws - by reference to the Retail
Business Holiday Act (RBHA), or by listing directly the specific statutory
holidays. Therefore, some by-laws may automatically adjust, while others will
require amendment.
    If municipal 'tourist destination area' by-laws are not up-to-date to
include Family Day as a day for retail stores in these special areas to open,
there will be significant confusion in the marketplace, frustrated visitors to
our communities and lost dollars at a time when Ontario's economy is facing a
number of challenges.
    RCC wants to ensure that retailers operating in 'tourist destination
areas' can open their doors to serve their customers on February 18th.
    Given the tight timeline, the immediate attention of all municipal
councils to ensure 'tourist destination area' by-laws are current to include
Family Day is of the utmost importance.



    Diane J. Brisebois
    President and CEO
    Retail Council of Canada

    cc.  Hon. Dalton McGuinty, Premier of Ontario
         Hon. Ted McMeekin, Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer
         Hon. Brad Duguid, Ontario Minister of Labour
         Hon. Jim Watson, Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
         Hon. Peter Fonseca, Ontario Minister of Tourism
         Ms. Pat Vanini, Executive Director, Association of Municipalities of
         Ms. Betteanne Cadman, President
          Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario
         Mr. Andy Koopmans, Executive Director,
          Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario

For further information:

For further information: Derek Nighbor, Vice President, National
Affairs,  Retail Council of Canada, Tel. (416) 922-0553 ext. 234, Fax (416)
922-8011, Email:

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