Tuesday 13 August 1991
Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act, 1991, Bill 115 / Loi de 1991 modifiant des lois en ce qui concerne les établissements de commerce de détail, projet de loi 115
Kingston Area Economic Development Commission
Eastern Ontario Travel Association
Kingston District Chamber of Commerce
United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1000A
Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area
Mary Jane Dempster
Rev John Craig
Kingston and District Labour Council
James E. Anderson
Zellers, Cataraqui Town Centre
Mary K. Maudsley
Continued in camera
STANDING COMMITTEE ON ADMINISTRATION OF JUSTICE
Chair: White, Drummond (Durham Centre NDP)
Vice-Chair: Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East NDP)
Carr, Gary (Oakville South PC)
Chiarelli, Robert (Ottawa West L)
Fletcher, Derek (Guelph NDP)
Gigantes, Evelyn (Ottawa Centre NDP)
Harnick, Charles (Willowdale PC)
Mathyssen, Irene (Middlesex NDP)
Mills, Gordon (Durham East NDP)
Poirier, Jean (Prescott and Russell L)
Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)
Winninger, David (London South NDP)
Jordan, Leo (Lanark-Renfrew PC) for Mr Harnick
Klopp, Paul (Huron NDP) for Ms Gigantes
Kormos, Peter (Welland-Thorold NDP) for Mr Winninger
Lessard, Wayne (Windsor-Walkerville NDP) for Mrs Mathyssen
Clerk: Freedman, Lisa
Staff: Swift, Susan, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 0905 at the Holiday Inn, Kingston.
RETAIL BUSINESS ESTABLISHMENTS STATUTE LAW AMENDMENT ACT, 1991 / LOI DE 1991 MODIFIANT DES LOIS EN CE QUI CONCERNE LES ÉTABLISSEMENTS DE COMMERCE DE DÉTAIL
Resuming consideration of Bill 115, An Act to amend the Retail Business Holidays Act and the Employment Standards Act in respect of the opening of retail business establishments and employment in them.
Reprise de l'étude du projet de loi 115, Loi modifiant la Loi sur les jours fériés dans le commerce de détail et la Loi sur les normes d'emploi en ce qui concerne l'ouverture des établissements de commerce de détail et l'emploi dans ces établissements.
The Chair: I call our meeting to order. We are having hearings in regard to Bill 115, the Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act.
Before we start, I would like to comment upon a point that was brought up yesterday. I think that during the course of our proceedings the time for questions will be divided among the three parties. If a member wishes to take the entire time of his caucus, he may do so. That is a problem between him and his colleagues. However, if he wishes to take time from another caucus, he is obligated to ask them. And it is not my obligation to ask others, but rather that individual's obligation to do so. I will attempt to remind people, where possible, of the time limitations, but it is your obligation to be aware of it, not mine.
The Chair: Our first witness is Mayor Helen Cooper, the mayor of this fair town. We have a half an hour or so, Mayor Cooper. Please divide that time as you wish. I am sure committee members will have many questions for you.
Ms Cooper: I have prepared a brief written presentation which I will read as quickly as I possibly can, and certainly welcome any questions as a result of it. I apologize. I cannot give you copies because this came off the press about five minutes ago and there is some proofreading required. As soon as I have done that, we will prepare more copies and deliver them in the course of the day.
This presentation is purely my own. It does in no way claim to represent the opinion of the corporation of the city of Kingston or of any other members of the council.
The original Sunday shopping debate, which occurred across the province at the time of proposed legislation by the former Liberal government, was a relatively quiet one in the Kingston area. There was an apparent overwhelming consensus among retailers in not only the city but also the surrounding townships that there should be universal Sunday closing. No one business or group of businesses at the time made any formal attempt to seek special consideration. Hence, the bylaw adopted by the municipality and agreed to by our neighbours -- and by our neighbours, I mean municipalities as far away as Trenton and Belleville, who were also interested in what we were doing -- was one which respected the status quo. Hence, all businesses which had previously been eligible under the Retail Business Holidays Act continued to be allowed to be open. All others were to remain closed.
When the law was struck down by the courts, allowing wide-open Sunday shopping in the province, several retail establishments did take advantage of the new circumstances. One major shopping centre in the area, but not in the city, chose to be open. However, not all the businesses in that centre were open. In fact, over time an increasing number chose to remain closed. I was out there in the dead of winter on one occasion. I could easily attest to the fact that probably only a third of the businesses at that point were choosing to be open. The largest shopping centre in the city itself, which is also a regional centre, chose to remain fully closed, except for those Sundays which immediately preceded Christmas. In the downtown, the majority of businesses still remained closed. However, a few small specialty stores took advantage of the situation, particularly last summer. They are businesses which are in the area where there are extremely large pedestrian movements all days of the week, but particularly on the weekends.
At this point, if you turn and look out the window, I would point to you as exhibit A the very area which I am referring to. These, on the whole, are stores selling specialty items and clothing. They have small square footage, except for the S&R department store, which is one of the few remaining independently owned department stores in the province.
Since the election of the current government, the legislation passed by the previous government has been re-established. There have been, until recently, no businesses in this city which chose to consciously break the law. However, in April of this year, city council did receive a request from the BIA which represents businesses in the downtown for permission for unrestricted Sunday opening in the downtown exclusively. The arguments used related to the fact that the retail industry had been suffering severely through the current recession, and that certain businesses in the downtown were able to benefit from the high incidence of visitors and tourists who stroll in this very area, particularly on the weekends.
City council subsequently held two public meetings. The first, held on June 20, was co-sponsored by two of the neighbouring municipalities, Ernestown and Pittsburgh townships, to seek public opinion for the issue of Sunday shopping in the area in general. The second public meeting, held on July 2, was specifically to address the request of the BIA.
There are, no doubt, very strong opinions on the issue among the public at large, those people who manage and work in the retail sector, and among the members of city council. Although the application to remain open came from the board of management of the BIA, which is elected from among its own members, there were definitely expressions of dissent from some BIA members to the application. Furthermore, there were also expressions of dissatisfaction from the managers of the major shopping centres, stating that the city was showing a certain unfairness in considering one area as opposed to considering the application of all retail areas in the city. The point I should emphasize however is that the request itself was generated from a specific business community.
Council, by an extremely close vote, did decide to allow Sunday openings in the BIA. It has not received any requests as yet from any other retailer or any other retail area. Sorry, that is not quite true. It has received a request from S&R.
Council chose to proceed under the terms of the proposed legislation, thinking that would cause as little disruption as possible once the new act is imposed. Hence, it has restricted opening to businesses of 7,500 square feet or less, with eight or fewer employees, and that is why S&R has put in a separate application, because it does not fit under that criteria. It has also recognized that the new legislation requires that a business area, in applying for exempt status, must prove itself a so-called tourist area. I would suggest that the BIA in Kingston easily qualifies on all counts that have been listed in the proposed regulations. Other retail areas in the Kingston area, however, would probably have more difficulty meeting these criteria.
I would wish to make the following comments: First of all, it appears that the proposed legislation has taken us right back to the beginning in terms of requiring a tourist exemption for Sunday opening. I did hear the previous Solicitor General, Michael Farnan, who introduced this legislation, announce that this time the problem of the previous legislation had been addressed in that criteria had now been established to define a tourist area. May I suggest that this concept is as flawed now as it ever was. The basic problem seems to me that neither this legislation nor any of its predecessors in any way defines a tourist. I would further submit that is impossible to do. Is a tourist somebody who has travelled more than a certain distance to that shopping area? Is a tourist someone who is travelling solely for pleasure, as opposed to conducting some form of business simultaneously with a car trip? Is a tourist somebody who is in the area for two hours or must be there for some form of time limitation? Is a tourist someone who comes to the community because he or she is participating in a particular sporting event? I have been engaged in discussion of the definition of tourist on many occasions in the past with people familiar with the hospitality sector. Never have any of us been able to define a tourist satisfactorily.
This legislation then purports to suggest it knows what tourists want once they get to a certain place, ie, they wish to shop only in retail businesses that are in historic areas or they wish to shop only on occasions when there are specific events or festivals. I expect if you were to canvass the people currently staying in this very hotel, many of whom we would think were probably tourists, you would find many of them were interested in engaging in the activity of shopping and would wish to do so in one of the local malls as opposed to the downtown with its historic buildings. Therefore, this legislation proposes to define an industry which is virtually impossible to define and then goes on to suggest that it knows what people who engage in the activities of that industry choose to do.
The other point I wish to bring out very clearly is that there is no homogeneity in the retail industry. It became very obvious to me in the presentations that were made in our public hearings that people work within the retail sector in very different circumstances. At the dangerous expense of generalizing, I feel reasonably confident in offering the following premise:
The circumstances of people who both manage and are employed in the chain store operations which occupy most of the space in the large malls are working under quite different circumstances from largely owner-occupied businesses in the downtown. In the former case, there is a great deal of pressure on management to work Sunday to be in constant supervision of operations. There is also, I would suggest, greater difficulty in ensuring fair working hours for employees. In the owner-managed businesses in the downtown, there seems to be more flexibility in being able to recruit staff and avoid the problem of forcing people who do not wish to work on Sunday to do so.
One has to be particularly careful, however, in examining the situation in Kingston because Kingston has such a large student population, both at Queen's University and St Lawrence Community College, for whom the extra working hours on Sunday are quite welcome, as student summer employment has been extremely difficult to obtain recently. I know there has been a great deal of mistrust of those owners in the downtown who have claimed they have not forced people to work on Sundays. However, the results appear to bear out their claim fairly clearly.
Hence, for certain businesses to adhere to the proposed changes in the Employment Standards Act represents very little if any problem. For others it may well be more of a problem and it may also be a case where employees would feel indirect pressure to remain at work perhaps seven days a week. I would again point out that the structures and philosophy of the very large operation network of the chain retail establishments is quite different from those who continue to operate independently in small business. I must simply leave you with this problem in that I have no idea how it can be properly addressed.
May I complete my presentation by suggesting to you that the fundamental flaw in this legislation and in other forms which have preceded it is simply that the provincial government is trying to establish a set of rules and then expects another level of government to enforce them. If the provincial government feels confident that it can define a tourist and that it can define a tourist area then I would suggest, if it is still determined to require Sunday closure with certain exceptions, that it establish a means by which these exemptions can be considered and granted or not; in other words, if this law is enacted then rather than requiring municipal governments to call public hearings to make what I consider to be extremely arbitrary judgements, that the provincial government undertake that responsibility itself through the establishment of some form of hearing board.
I am in no way qualified to comment about circumstances throughout Ontario. It certainly must be true that there are peculiarities about the province. This government has obviously recognized that tourism is an important industry for the province and one upon which many small businesses are extremely dependent. I have already gone to great lengths to point out that tourism itself is ultimately a very difficult concept to define. There is no doubt that it currently represents a very important aspect of economic activity in this community.
I would suggest therefore very strongly that if the province is to choose to pursue a course of defining what I have already suggested is impossible to define, it then assume responsibility for enacting its own laws, using its own definitions, and not expect another level of government to do this for it.
Mr Sorbara: Mayor Cooper, I have been listening to submissions now for I guess two and a half weeks on Sunday shopping. I just want to tell you that was a very well-thought-out and articulate brief and I think adds materially to the things we will have to discuss when we have finally completed the public hearing process.
I think you make an extremely good point when you argue that you cannot really define a tourist. I am here today. I am staying in this hotel, but I do not consider myself a tourist. I think you importantly remind us that you cannot define what a tourist wants, that they are as different one from the other as almost any two creatures that might be in the city of Kingston at any one time, and that there is no homogeneity in the retailing industry as well.
One of the interesting things that arises from your brief is your review of what happened in your own BIA; that is, that the owner-managed stores were the ones that came together, not unanimously but with some sort of consensus about opening on Sunday. We have heard a lot of complaints at this committee that the people who will suffer under any unrestricted Sunday openings are owner-managed businesses because they are the ones who do not want to open. Again, this varies from community to community, and I think the evidence of Kingston is clear. Once the BIA gets established with a Sunday market, is it not the case that a lot of local Kingston residents who are not tourists will be coming down to this area on Sunday to browse and shop? Is that not the case?
Ms Cooper: I do not know, without sitting there with a counter going, "Are you local or are you not?"
Mr Sorbara: I think you have a pretty good sense of who's who.
Ms Cooper: What happened last summer when we could have wide-open Sunday shopping was that it seemed in our case to be largely self-regulating. There was enough new business to attract people down here on Sunday for the period when the weather was nice, from June to August. If you walk in this area after Labour Day, it as if somebody has rolled up the sidewalks. All of a sudden it is back to serious life again; no more fun. We have large pedestrian movements in this area all through the summer around the whole city hall area, Brock Street, lower Princess Street. Part of it of course is the fact that we have a large marina out here, and when people get off their boats, they are in essence trapped because they are automatically pedestrians. They cannot go anywhere else unless they actively choose to, using a bus or a taxi. We just have a lot of people strolling around. Who they are and where they come from I really cannot say.
The large argument, which I am sure you have heard over and over again, is that opening Sundays simply puts six days of shopping over seven days and therefore costs go up, but people are forced to compete and then have to stay open.
There is definitely new money here downtown on a Sunday. Whether it is coming from people who are local or whether it is coming from people who are from Kentucky or Japan -- and I pick those two examples because there have been newspaper articles locally and people from Kentucky and people from Japan have been interviewed in those articles -- I do not know what the proportions are. The point is that for those specialty businesses in particular, there are enough new customers walking around in the downtown on Sunday that they can say: "We're not getting six days business over seven. We're getting new money on the seventh day."
Mr Daigeler: I agree with my colleague Greg Sorbara that your presentation does add some new dimensions to what we have been hearing so far, and I thank you for coming before us.
One observation, though, that I was kind of expecting from you and I did not hear, and I am just wondering why, is that in many cities or places we have been, people related the Sunday shopping question also to the cross-border issue. They were arguing that because of the Americans being open on Sunday, they are losing a lot of money here in Canada by being closed on Sunday. Is this an issue here? Have those two things been related? Are you hearing that from the merchants, from the people? You did not make reference to that and I was just wondering why.
Ms Cooper: No, I did not. I am not sure who else you are hearing from today. The chamber of commerce has done quite a bit of work on this in terms of hiring an outside consultant to examine the cross-border issue, so it has a lot more competence in dealing with that than I have.
If I can define the issue locally, it is this. First of all, we are very definitely influenced by the cross-border phenomenon in this community. I do not know any community in southern Ontario that is not. But we are not a Windsor, a Sarnia or a Cornwall in that you still have to drive for over an hour to get to a shopping facility in the United States, so we do not have the phenomenon of people crossing just to buy gas or just to buy groceries. Here, it has to be a conscious decision to make a significant journey.
If I may be so bold as to speak on behalf of merchants in this community, I do not think any of them think that by opening on Sunday they are going to stop people who have consciously chosen to drive down to the United States. Staying open on Sunday will not affect that decision in any way, shape or form. I think, however, what they are arguing is that for those businesses who can take advantage of so-called new money, as I defined it recently in response to Mr Sorbara's question, they are saying: "That gives us something to fight back with. We have a declining market share because of cross-border shopping and because of the recession and because of perhaps a multitude of other confluent circumstances. Allowing us to open on Sunday allows us to bring in some new revenue that we couldn't otherwise get."
Mr Poirier: As a Franco-Ontarian, I guess I played tourist last night around Kingston, and I must congratulate you, because I was quite pleased to see that one of the institutions, the Prince George Hotel, had a huge bilingual banner. I went into one of the restaurants, a fine Italian restaurant called Dominico's, if I remember well -- it was that good of an evening -- and they played for an hour about an entire album --
Mr Sorbara: What else did you do last night?
Mr Poirier: Confession.
Ms Cooper: I submit that this gentleman at least is a part-time tourist. He is solidifying my point.
Mr Daigeler: He is not just a part-time tourist; he is a full-time tourist.
Mr Sorbara: People have argued that he is also a part-time MPP. We do not agree with that either.
Mr Poirier: They played an entire album in French as background music, and I thought that was quite reassuring as a Franco-Ontarian to see people in Kingston make a special effort to attract -- I saw about five or six tourist buses from Quebec last night in Kingston, and I figured, hey, you people are very progressive. I wish I could see that elsewhere, and I invite other municipalities to do what I saw in Kingston. I was very touched by that last night and I want to congratulate you and the business people. They have some good business common sense and good Canadian sense to invite people of the French language to Kingston, because it is a beautiful area.
Ms Cooper: Thank you.
Mr Carr: You said you had a vote and it was close. I was wondering what your opinion was. Did you vote in favour of opening or were you one of the ones who wanted to stay closed?
Ms Cooper: I supported opening.
Mr Carr: So with the tourist exemptions that we have in this legislation, that area will of course qualify. Do you see it expanding to other areas as a result of the tourist exemption, or do you think they are so narrow that you would not be able to get some of the other areas of Kingston? How do you see it going in your area? Do you see just the downtown area being open or do you see pressures then for other areas to open?
Ms Cooper: I should have pointed out in the presentation, and I will ensure it is included when I submit it to you, that we also said there was an exemption for Sunday opening in the BIA from May 15 to October 15. One of the people who made representation to us quite strongly was the manager of Sears, which is in the Kingston shopping centre, which is the regional centre to which I referred that is within the city limits. As I pointed out, with our laboratory experiment of that period of -- was it eight months that there was wide-open Sunday shopping? -- the only time that shopping centre chose to remain open was just prior to Christmas. By us saying the Sunday shopping exemption is for the tourist season only, which is very obvious in Kingston -- we do not have a great deal of winter tourism -- then there would be no pressure to open on Sundays over the Christmas period. Nobody would be able to open Sundays through the Christmas period.
So it seemed to me that what we were doing by passing the bylaw we passed was to say we knew what happened in the summer when there was wide-open shopping. There were a relatively few businesses that chose to remain open and they were all within a fairly concentrated area where there is this heavy pedestrian flow, and after tourist season is over, then everybody is closed down.
Mr Carr: I take it what you see happening then is the same thing. If this goes through, you will give the tourist exemption only during that period. Some will choose to open is the way you see it working.
Ms Cooper: Yes, that is exactly what has happened. I have not been wandering through the business area on Sunday afternoons. It is not a conscious attempt to boycott or anything like that; I just have had other things to do. As far as I am aware, the same businesses that took advantage of it before are taking advantage of it now. There are many other businesses that are closed.
Mr Carr: One of the comments we have had from some of the government side is that there is increased pressure on municipalities when you open. There is increased service for police and buses and so on. During that period when you opened that downtown area, was there any increased cost for your community?
Ms Cooper: Not that I am aware of. We do have a modified Sunday public transit system. We do have, as far as I know, the same number of police patrols working on Sunday as every other day of the week now, and had previously.
I think that is a very two-sided argument in that I just had the experience of going to Oshawa recently on a totally different matter, in fact interviewing for the Ontario Round Table on Environment and Economy, and they pointed out in Oshawa, I think, that their last retail business has left their downtown. They now have more requirements for police protection in that area than they have ever had before because the area is largely deserted. So it seems to me that argument is a two-edged sword. Where there is a great deal of activity, there may also be less opportunity for crime to occur than if an area is completely deserted.
The other municipal service that is extremely critical in this whole exercise is garbage -- litter. Most of the litter that is generated in our downtown on the weekends, and there is lots of it, was generated whether there was Sunday shopping or not. Most of the litter comes from food products, that kind of thing, and it is there whether you have other kinds of retail businesses open or not.
Mr Carr: One of the things we have been hearing as we go around the province is that there are a lot of communities in Ontario that will be open as a tourist area, just like yours will be, whether it is a large part of the city like Windsor or just a smaller part like your area. One of the suggestions that has been made is that when the door gets opened a little bit and there is a little of Sunday shopping, there will be pressure from neighbouring municipalities if one of your neighbours stays open. Do you see that happening, or do you think most people will say: "No, we're quite content here. We don't travel to go to another community just to shop on Sunday"?
Ms Cooper: It depends who your competitors are. One of the effects of the 7,500-square-foot upper limit is that -- we have got A&Ps within the BIA boundaries. Neither of them can open. As far as I can understand from having read what I have read about this debate, particularly in the Toronto area, the major food stores are significant players in this debate. At this point what we have done is to say, "No, big grocery stores are out of the game." It seems to me, on that premise alone, there is not nearly as much pressure from outside the BIA from other businesses as there would have been if the downtown grocery stores had been able to be open. I think we would have had pressure from other grocery stores because there I very much accept it is a matter of doing six days' business over seven days. Those are, to a large extent, not going to be tourism destinations in the way the market is down here on a Sunday. I cannot answer it any better than that.
As we have it at the moment, I do not sense that we have generated a lot of demand from outside the BIA because there is not competitive advantage for businesses outside the BIA. Those businesses could stay open but they are not going to get the pedestrian traffic that these few businesses around here get. The other thing that is important here is the outdoor market. I have not mentioned it previously. We have the longest continuously running outdoor market, certainly in Ontario. I think it was established in 1803 and it has gone through its ups and downs, but it has never stopped. On a Sunday now it is just a zoo, a fun zoo. It is an antiques market on Sunday, but a number of fresh produce merchants and craft merchants are also taking advantage of it now. It is a hive of activity. That is another bizarre element in this whole exercise. What we are saying is that we can have a market under current legislative provisions that everybody loves coming to, that in essence is selling many of the same commodities and goods as many of the stores that surround the market. Until we passed the exemption, we were saying yes, you could sell in the market, but you could not sell in the store across the street.
Mr Morrow: I will be very brief. Thank you, Your Worship, for presenting here this morning. I took a small stroll last night and this morning, and what a fine area you have.
Ms Cooper: Thank you very much.
Mr Morrow: We bought hats, spoons --
Mr Carr: This guy needs a separate briefcase to go back.
Mr Morrow: I have just a couple of really brief questions if you do not mind. One of your comments was that employees feel pressured to work seven days a week. Can I ask you to elaborate on that, and why?
Ms Cooper: Perhaps the best thing I can do for the committee is make available the minutes of those public meetings. I think you would find them quite interesting reading and they are quite detailed minutes. We had a couple of excellent presentations. One I remember in particular was from a young, single mother who manages a clothing store in one of the shopping centres. She made it quite clear to us, and I had no doubt believing her presentation, that she was going to have to work Sundays if there was Sunday opening in the shopping centre. In order for her to be able to control certain activities within that business, she would feel considerable pressure to be onsite.
Mr Morrow: In Kingston, do you feel that a retail worker should have the absolute right to refuse Sunday work?
Ms Cooper: Yes.
Mr Kormos: Ms Cooper, I gather that among the people you have heard from have been people from the church communities and organized labour representing retail workers. The arguments presented by both of those factions are in part related to the matter of quality of life. You alluded to that when you talked about the single mother working as a manager in a plaza store. The argument presented by church leaders almost unanimously -- I am not aware of any dissent within the religious community -- is that we do not need more commercialization; that Sunday is, and traditionally has been, for Christians and for many others, perhaps not all of us, but for many others, a common pause day. I come from a small town where my interpretation of what is happening is that very much remains true. What do you say? How does one respond to those very compelling arguments? Are these people simply old-fashioned and out of step? Are they going to be left in the dust?
Ms Cooper: No, they are not out of step. One of the problems is that the definition of quality of life is different for different people. As I tried to point out in my presentation, a Queen's student looking for a series of part-time jobs over the summer to be able to get back to university might well argue that working for a few hours on a Sunday will contribute to his quality of life. It depends very much on the circumstances of the individual.
I simply have to throw this back in the lap of the government. The government has stated, as far as I understand, looking at the statements of Mr Farnan when he released the proposed legislation, issues such as quality of life are extremely important to that government. I understood it from the nature of the debate that occurred prior to the election. However, Mr Farnan spent half the time in making that statement talking about the importance of the tourism industry in Ontario.
I would suggest that if the government is deciding that quality of life issues are important, if the government is deciding that the tourism industry is also important, then what the government is now doing is totally abdicating its responsibility by saying to local government politicians: "Okay, in your community you decide which issue is more important. We have decided that on the one hand this is important, but on the other hand this is important. But we can really not make up our mind which is more important. Therefore, you do it for us." That is what I am objecting to and, therefore, Mr Kormos, I find it really difficult to cope with a question such as you are advancing to me about what I think of the importance of the quality of life. I think it is very important. I think the importance of the health of the local economy is also extremely important, but I am your agent in determining which of these two issues are important. I suggest you were elected to do that, not me.
Mr Kormos: And I am inclined to agree with you.
Mr Carr: He disagrees with the Premier occasionally.
Mr Kormos: Yes, once in a while, not all the time.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Your Honour, it was a very interesting presentation. In Oshawa, it is "Your Honour," so it is "Your Honour Al" and "His Honour Al." They both are Als. Al Pilkey was succeeded by Al Mason.
KINGSTON AREA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMISSION
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Kingston Area Economic Development Commission, and Ms Paula Nichols, who is senior tourism development officer, will be speaking.
Ms Nichols: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Kingston. Thank you for taking the time to come here and enjoy our city and our nightlife as well as to hear our presentation. I work for the economic development commission and my presentation starts by outlining briefly who we are. The Kingston Area Economic Development Commission, otherwise known as KAEDC, was established in 1979 through a co-operative agreement between the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce and the municipalities of the city of Kingston and the townships of Kingston, Ernestown and Pittsburgh. KAEDC follows an approved economic development strategy with the following mission statement: enhance the development of greater Kingston and its comparative advantages in a manner that will improve the standard of living enjoyed by local residents while maintaining and improving the area's quality of life.
KAEDC has three departments, economic development, small business and, most recently, tourism. The matter of Sunday shopping has been discussed at length by the KAEDC board of directors, who passed a motion supporting the choice for a business to open on a Sunday.
We are in the business of capitalizing on our unique strengths to develop and promote tourism. A great deal of resources by the province, our organization, and the private tourism businesses has been spent on attracting visitors to Ontario. That is the hard part. Now we need to capitalize on their spending while they are here.
Tourism is the third largest industry in Ontario's economy behind the manufacturing and agricultural sectors. Last year alone, tourism generated $15.5 billion in revenues in Ontario. The majority of these dollars are generated from outside of Ontario, making tourism a unique export industry.
In greater Kingston tourism is responsible for 8,500 person-years of employment and a total of $170 million injected into the local economy. Therefore, we must be able to maximize the tourism development potential for our community and the province as a whole.
It is our opinion that Sunday shopping is an important factor contributing to the development and maintenance of a strong tourism and small business sector in Ontario and greater Kingston. It must be a matter of choice for the individual business.
Small business is the backbone of our economy. It creates the most jobs in a community. For example, according to the 1991-92 greater Kingston business directory, which is at the printers right now, over 80% of all manufacturing and business service companies have less than 20 employees. That is here in Kingston. This excludes retail and tourism, which also mostly consist of less than 20 employees. It is becoming increasingly evident that we must be able to compete in the global marketplace. The province must allow a business every opportunity for this. In our opinion, this means the choice for Sunday opening.
Sunday openings must also be a matter of choice for the employee. It is our experience that there are a lot of people wanting to work on a Sunday. This creates additional employment in our community. The Employment Standards Act provides protection for the workers and allows them the choice to refuse work on a Sunday. Therefore, this legislation also protects the notion of a common pause day if it is desired.
Sunday and holiday shopping must be a matter of choice for the consumer, particularly the visitor. We must be able to provide a full service to our visitors. Shopping is an important part of the tourism experience.
Imagine this: It is Sunday, an Ontario resident or a visitor is wondering what he or she can do. In Kingston, he or she can go on a boat cruise, to Fort Henry or to a museum. He or she can buy a meal at a restaurant or at the hot dog stand. He or she can buy cigarettes, milk or produce. He or she can go to the movie theatre. All of these establishments have employees who work on Sundays. Of all the things a person can do on a Sunday, he or she cannot buy clothes, gifts or souvenirs.
Does it not seem absurd to you that there is this discrepancy? There should not be a discrepancy on the kind of business that can open on a Sunday. Furthermore, businesses should not be penalized because of their location or size.
The economic status report for greater Kingston concluded that 24% of all tourism dollars are spent on gifts, clothing and miscellaneous items. This means that when our stores are closed on a Sunday, we are missing out on 24 cents of every dollar that a visitor would spend that day. This does not include local spending.
What does this mean? A full economic assessment is difficult to develop. However, if we used the visitors to the greater Kingston tourist information office in 1990 as an example, we can estimate the losses. Last year, 9,376 people visited our information office on Sundays during June, July and August. Based on local and provincial tourism statistics, we can estimate that these visitors alone who came to our office could have spent $220,000 in retail outlets if they were open. In the province as a whole, the figures must be astronomical.
The greater Kingston tourist information office repeatedly receives complaints from visitors to the area about the lack of opportunity for Sunday shopping. One US visitor said: "There's nothing open on a Sunday? I can't believe it." Another one said: "We came up here for the weekend, looked around on Saturday for what we might buy. We were shocked to find the stores closed on Sunday."
These people will tell their friends and relatives about their experience in Ontario, whether good or bad. We cannot afford to continue to receive this kind of publicity. Ontario, as a whole, needs to take a progressive leadership role and go forward with its actions. We must look at the example of the western provinces, take a positive stand and show small business that you are on their side. Let them have the choice. Let the workers have the choice.
That concludes my presentation.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, I am in complete agreement with the presentation made by Ms Nichol. It articulates, I think, as well as any brief we have heard, how important it is to simply allow for choice in a society as complex and an economy as diverse as Ontario's; and local choice as well, an individual choice. Indeed, I think that is the real foundation of a free and democratic society.
Perhaps I would just move, Mr Chairman, that based on the submission, we simply recommend to the government that the bill be withdrawn.
Mr Mills: You have got to be kidding.
Mr Sorbara: Well, we have a majority right now. We could have a vote right now and then we could take off for the rest of the summer.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Sorbara. I think, however, we are obligated to continue hearing from the many witnesses --
Mr Sorbara: Your line now is, "All those in favour of the motion" --
The Chair: -- who are waiting to appear before us. We can discuss your motion perhaps at the outset of our clause-by-clause hearings.
Mr Sorbara: Oh my God, now look at that: a motion like that brings the NDP members back into the room.
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, do you have any questions for the witness?
Mr Sorbara: No, I have a motion on the floor. Does the committee want to consider it?
Mr Mills: Are you serious or have you been in the sun somewhere?
Mr Sorbara: Of course I am serious. It is easy. Either you could call for the 20 minutes or you could call your members back in.
The Chair: Excuse me. As you know, Mr Sorbara is out of order.
Mr Sorbara: Why is that?
The Chair: Because we have witnesses in front of us. It is extremely rude to have this kind of partisan squabbling while we have witnesses who have important information which they can share with us.
Mr Sorbara: There is no partisan squabbling.
The Chair: If you do not wish to pose any questions to the witness, you do not have to.
Mr Sorbara: Would you just check with the clerk to determine whether a motion of that sort is out of order?
The Chair: I do not have to. We have people waiting in front of us --
Mr Sorbara: I would not want to challenge the Chair but --
The Chair: We have a witness in front of us. I do not think it is a good idea be using that time to engage in partisan wrangling. Do you have a question?
Mr Mills: The TV cameras have arrived. Disgraceful.
Mr Sorbara: I think you as Chair should check with the clerk on whether or not that motion is out of order. While you are doing that, I would ask Ms Nichols just one question. If it turned out that this bill were to be withdrawn and the ability to regulate the extent of Sunday shopping in the Kingston area, not just in the municipality of Kingston but in the Kingston area, were left to local businesses and local authorities, what is your view of the outcome? Would all stores open? Would all stores close? Would hours be the same as every other day of the week? Would you be able to come up with a form of regulation that suited the Kingston market?
Ms Nichols: I have to admit I did not live in Kingston last year. I am new to the community, but my understanding is that when Sunday openings were not regulated and everything was wide open, there were a number of businesses which chose not to open, particularly in the shopping centres. I know that the large shopping centre in Kingston township, the Cataraqui Town Centre, started out with about 20% of the stores opening. A week later it was probably 22%; and it went right up to about 80% of the stores opening by the end of the period. They obviously recognized the benefit for them to be open.
Mr Sorbara: There is a market?
Ms Nichols: There is a market. Naturally, there would be a number of stores that would choose to close, as there are now downtown.
Mr Sorbara: Was the quality of life deteriorating in the Kingston area, families breaking up, husbands leaving wives, children being abandoned and that sort of thing during that period?
Ms Nichols: From my understanding, life went on as normal; it did not create the big kerfuffle we all expected.
Mr Sorbara: The weather did not improve or deteriorate based on whether or not people shopped on Sundays?
Ms Nichols: It is tough to measure these kinds of things and to know how many divorce applications went in at that time versus other times, but quite honestly, life went on, and I think the local residents as well as the visitors enjoyed the Sunday openings.
Mr Daigeler: When the mayor spoke -- I do not know whether you were here earlier -- she started out by saying that during the last round of Sunday legislation changes, the people in the Kingston area basically wanted the stores to be closed. She went on to say that perhaps there has been a bit of a shift in opinion by the people. Although you just indicated that you are new to Kingston, do you have any information from your organization whether there has in fact been a shift among the people themselves, and if so, why so?
Ms Nichols: The downtown business association, which is presenting in a few minutes, did a survey that I believe was statistically significant. It indicated that 80% of the people they talked to, which represents 80% of the community, were in favour of Sunday openings. So I believe there has perhaps been a shift, especially because we experienced it for nine months and we did not have all the problems we were expecting.
Mr Daigeler: Just one final question, which has nothing to do with Sunday shopping as such: Your organization, the economic development commission, who is it made up of? Could you tell me a little bit about it?
Ms Nichols: The board of directors includes the heads of council from the four funding municipalities, and then the chamber of commerce appoints four people as well, so we have eight people on the board.
Mr Daigeler: So it is the chamber of commerce and the council representatives.
Ms Nichols: Yes, we have half-and-half municipal representation and private business.
Mr Jordan: Thank you very much for taking time to come out this morning. You stated that Ontario as a whole needs to take a progressive leadership role and go forward. On page 4 you say we must show a positive attitude to supporting small business: "Let them have the choice. Let the workers have the choice." Are you excluding large businesses when you say that, and are you saying we do not need a regulation to control Sunday shopping?
Ms Nichols: First of all, large business, in our minds at the office, would mean 150, 200 employees and more. There are very few retail outlets that would have that many employees. I do not know of any. On the second question, virtually what we are saying is that we should let business dictate, let the market dictate whether or not it is feasible to be open on a Sunday, and let the government, to be quite clear, stay out.
Mr Jordan: Are you and the mayor in agreement? The mayor is indicating that the government has attempted to define a tourist and has failed. The government has attempted to define what a tourist might want to buy and it has also failed. The mayor seemed to be indicating that if there was legislation required, it should be defined and regulated by the government and enforced by the government, not by the municipality.
Ms Nichols: Yes, we believe it should be province-wide legislation, not left up to the municipality.
Mr Jordan: I am getting a conflict here. You were saying "no legislation" and now you are saying --
Ms Nichols: Sorry, you are right. First of all, there should be no legislation. Second, if there is, it should be province-wide.
By the way, Mr Jordan, I moved down from Renfrew to Kingston.
Mr Jordan: Thank you very much. I am sure you will be a real addition to the city of Kingston and bring the great personality of the people from that area to this area.
Ms Nichols: I might say something to Mr Poirier about our visitor information office. I do not know if you had a chance to stop by, across from city hall. All our staff are fluently bilingual. We have found that 50% of visitors on our buses are French-speaking, from Quebec and France. I cannot recall the number of buses and the number of travellers by bus to date, but it is outstanding.
Mr Poirier: Congratulations, Ms Nichols. I find your city to be very progressive.
Mr Carr: Like the rest of the crew, I had a chance to go out and look around last night. I was very impressed with the number of people who were out. Of course, it was a lovely night and just a terrific community. One of the concerns that has been voiced in some areas is that there is no more economic activity with Sunday shopping, that it is just spread out over seven days.
We have gone to different communities where, for example, they say that is not the case. I will use the example of Collingwood, where they say that people who have cottages up there will not necessarily spend more, but they will spend it in Collingwood as opposed to going back to Toronto, and so on. Is that why you see more economic activity, or is it because you think that the American tourists who are up here, for example, will just leave their money in their pockets and go across the border? Is that what we are looking at when you say more economic activity?
Ms Nichols: Yes, I believe that allowing a business a choice to open on a Sunday allows it the increased economy or the increased business. I do agree with the mayor that we are seeing new money come into the community. You will also see local residents spending on those days, there is no doubt about it; but we are looking at new export dollars coming into our community which then get circulated two or three times.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. It was well done, well-thought-out. I agree with a lot of what you are saying, especially the part about tourism. I agree this province has to do something about tourism; it is one of our biggest industries. If we can change the tourist part of the legislation in any way to help tourism, then we are open to suggestions. I think that is one of the reasons you are here, to give us some suggestions.
There are a couple of things I would like to say. One is that I do not agree with the choice part as far as opening everything up is concerned. I think there has to be some protection in some industries. But again, that is flexible. We are open to suggestions.
You talked about the United States. There is one thing I like about living in Ontario and being a Canadian, that we are different from people in the United States; and not just the people, but their society also. I think it is something we have to protect, something that I feel has to be enhanced. If this is going to make us different, then fine, I am willing to be a little bit different.
As for the experience in the western provinces, I know that right now in Alberta they are starting to review their Sunday shopping laws. If I can just quote from Lynn Arling, who is president of the Alberta division of the Consumers' Association of Canada: "Alberta's experiment for the past 10 years has made everyone unhappy: employers, store staff and consumers. The dollar value of sales in Alberta has not increased, while stores have additional costs of lighting, heating, advertising, job training and shoplifting. People can spend more for a while, but soon the well dries up."
This is part of the experience that Alberta is going through. For nine months we had wide-open Sunday shopping and it was a novelty, but eventually the novelty wears off. Where do we go when the novelty wears off and the store closes down on a Monday or a Tuesday because sales are down? That has been the experience in the western provinces also: Sunday may be big, Monday and Tuesday are not. It spreads it out.
There are some things we have to look at. This is not a short-term piece of legislation. It is definitely going to be long-term. As far as protecting the workers is concerned -- and I know you agree with workers having the right to choose, and that is part of the legislation also -- they have the right either to choose to work on a Sunday or not to work on a Sunday, or to take another day as a pause day. It is not restricted just to Sunday. Again, as I said, you made some very good remarks and we are listening. Do you have some comments now?
Ms Nichols: The thing about the common pause day is, why does it only pertain to particular retail businesses? As I stated, several stores are allowed to open currently and several services are already open that you just cannot get by without, so why is it that this one particular sector in our economy is jeopardized by not being allowed to choose? That is where we are coming from.
Mr Fletcher: Yes, I can understand that. One of the things is that these are amendments to a bill that is already there. The New Democrats did not introduce the Retail Business Holidays Act. That was there long before we came to power. We are just amending it. Maybe you should ask somebody who is running for the leadership who does a lot of ranting and raving. Maybe he can help you out.
Mr Mills: Thank you, Ms Nichols, for coming here today and making the presentation. Perhaps I can answer that question. You say, why are we protecting particularly the retail workers? We are protecting the retail workers because this government feels that the retail workers are particularly vulnerable to being exploited.
The way I look at it is that there are thousands and thousands of people in Ontario who work Monday through Friday: officer workers, lawyers, all that class of people. They do not expect to have to work on Sunday, and neither do retail workers. They were hired mainly in food chains and department stores to work Monday through Saturday and they do not expect to work on Sunday, but experience shows that they are mainly unorganized, they are not mainly in unions, they are one or two people spread out in stores and they are subject to the whims of the employer, who can put some pressure on them.
You ask, why are we singling out the retail employee? That is why we are. We feel they are particularly vulnerable, and this government is on record to do something about that.
Having said that, I would just like to go on to your brief. Mr Fletcher touched on a point I was going to raise. I like to think that in Canada we are pretty unique, and I would very much regret the day we become a clone of the United States. If people come up here from the United States and they complain, "I can't go shopping," I would like to think that perhaps they have come to Canada for the wrong reason. When I go to the United States on holiday, particularly a few weeks ago to Lake Placid, I do not worry about whether the shops are going to be open. I go there to see the local scenery. I would think that, in the main, people who visit Canada are here to visit the local scenery and that shopping is not on their main agenda.
You talk of the example of the western provinces, and Mr Fletcher touched on Alberta. We have statistical evidence from British Columbia, which has had wide-open shopping I think since Expo, four years or so, and the revenue during that period has risen 1%; 1% is the increase to offset what the cost is -- I do not know. I do not think we have to look at the western provinces for an example of how good it is.
Ms Nichols: But again, it is up to the businesses to choose, and if it costs them money to be open, then they can choose not to be.
Mr Mills: What we are talking about really is not Sunday shopping but Sunday working, and that is my point.
Mr Klopp: In your brief you said that you cannot buy clothes, gifts or souvenirs in the Kingston area. I hate shopping but I go on trips or whatever, and my experience has been that you can buy souvenirs in Kingston. Three or four years ago when I was here I got sucked into buying a few spoons and a hat. So there are stores that are open. This legislation still allows for souvenirs to be sold in Kingston. Am I wrong on this?
Ms Nichols: The corner store that is currently allowed to be open might also sell souvenirs and you could purchase them there.
Mr Klopp: So that is not a correct statement; this is just an error. You can buy. It says "cannot" but should be you still can.
Ms Nichols: Yes, I guess, if you want to be particular, but in general those are the things. You cannot go to a clothing store and buy something that might be a memorabilia, like a sweatshirt of Kingston.
Mr Klopp: You can too. I have them too at home.
Ms Nichols: Good. I hope you wear it a lot.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Nichols.
Upon consultation with the clerk, I discovered that Mr Sorbara's motion is in order. However, I would suggest it is somewhat untimely to be engaging in that kind of discussion while we have witnesses before us. I would suggest and would request of committee members, if they do have such motions or issues to discuss, that we leave that to the end of the day so that we do not keep people waiting.
Regardless, we do have that motion in front of us. I would suggest, seeing as it is proper --
Mr Sorbara: Dispense with it.
The Chair: Do we wish to dispense with it? Do we wish to vote on it? Do we wish to move it to the end of the day?
Mr Jordan: Why not table it until the end of the day?
The Chair: I leave that to the committee members.
Mr Morrow: It is your choice, Greg. What do you want to do?
Mr Sorbara: I just want to count up to see whether or not we are going to lose it.
Mr Mills: We are all here; you will lose it.
Mr Sorbara: Okay, then I will withdraw it. I was so impressed with Ms Nichols's presentation, I think probably the view that she has expressed is going to prevail in the end.
The Chair: The motion is withdrawn.
Mr Sorbara: We may have to defeat a government in order to get there, but that will not be too difficult either.
Mr Mills: That is wishful thinking.
EASTERN ONTARIO TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
The Chair: We now have a presentation from the Eastern Ontario Travel Association, Mr David Phillips. Mr Phillips, I note that you have been patiently attending and I know that you are aware of the process. Basically, take whatever time you wish for your presentation. The remaining time will be divided among the committee members for their questions, and I am sure they will have many for you. Please start when you are ready.
Mr Phillips: Thank you. It is interesting that I have been in the tourism promotion business for eight years and everyone is still trying to define what a tourist is. It not only is in the local levels but in the international level. The World Tourism Organization at one time came up with the definition of a tourist as being a person who travels more than 50 kilometres for the purpose of business or pleasure and stays overnight. The North American market objected to that, so it is back into the argument of what is a tourist.
In our industry, generally we refer to a tourist as anyone who travels more than 50 kilometres to another community and that is it. If that person is going there for business or pleasure, he is spending money and that is tourism dollars coming into a community. I would suggest that every one of you are tourists into the Kingston area and into parts of eastern Ontario. As the representative for all of eastern Ontario, I welcome all of you to tourism in eastern Ontario.
The Eastern Ontario Travel Association is one of 12 non-profit organizations formed in 1974 to promote tourism in various regions within Ontario. We do this through co-op marketing programs with our members. Our membership consists of the tourist associations within eastern Ontario, which themselves represent thousands of businesses, plus direct members who assist and advise us.
Our association recently formed a legislative affairs committee to respond to various provincial and federal matters that may have an effect on our members. The chairman was unable to be here today and I am taking his place. We in turn are members of Tourism Ontario, which has made a presentation to this committee. We do not want to repeat what they have said. Rather, we could go on record as supporting its recommendations concerning changes to the proposed bill and request that the committee give serious consideration to them.
The eastern Ontario travel region comprises some 10,000 square miles and, according to the Ministry of Tourism and Recreation statistics, places as follows among the 12 travel regions: We are number 3 in tourism expenditure by all visitor origins, number 3 in total tourism revenue, number 3 in direct employment supported by tourism expenditure and number 4 in numbers of visitors.
Much of this business is in our region on weekends. It is the weekend cottager, fishing enthusiast and festivals and events attenders. With three- to four-day short trips becoming the norm for holidays, our region must cater to them.
We feel the rules should be the same for everyone, not left at the discretion of the local politicians. In the past few weeks, one community voted to allow part of its retail area to remain open, while another nearby community refused to reconsider Sunday shopping. This inconsistency only serves to confuse the visitor and puts businesses in one area at a distinct disadvantage.
Many of the businesses in smaller communities in eastern Ontario depend on the tourist season to make it through the year, and this year is tough enough. In addition, the proposed bill lets a local government determine the time period a retail establishment can be open. Would a business that applies to be open during the summer months then have to make another application to open during the off-season, or would it not be better to have a set time frame? Does a business have to apply each year? I have not seen anything in the copies of the parts of the bill that I have that indicates that. Perhaps these are details yet to be worked out.
In eastern Ontario our tourism seasons vary. We have of course a very active summer. Then the fall colours are an extremely important part of tourism in eastern Ontario. The winter activities in our north part, up in Renfrew county, are very important to the tourism operators in that area during the winter. As I said, in many areas winter is the more important. We feel the paperwork that is going to be generated by this current bill and the changes is just too tremendous.
In general, our members appreciate the consideration the bill has for the tourism sector and we thank the government for that. On the other hand, many of our members still feel that the government has no business trying to regulate them as long as there is protection for the worker. As Tourism Ontario has pointed out, this is already covered under the Employment Standards Act.
I remember years ago, and I think I am older than most of the committee members, the businesses in various communities -- and I was born and brought up in Ontario -- would close one day a week, plus the Sundays and holidays, without having to be regulated. In most of the cases I remember, in a place called Lakefield, it was Wednesdays. It was simply Wednesdays, because they had determined that there was not enough business that day. This was decided by mutual agreement, not regulation. Would it not be nice to have that again? It would, of course, eliminate a lot of work for both politicians and lawyers, so maybe it would not be that great. But consider the money saved. Instead, all levels of government must now get involved giving more frustration to business people already mired in paperwork.
As a totally personal opinion, and it is mine alone, if permitted, I was living in Alberta up to June 1990 and went through all the fighting, court cases, hard feelings, etc, when Sunday shopping was an issue. The province finally decided to drop the issue, leaving it up to the municipalities and business. There were the arguments that the provincial government was taking the easy way out. In a sense, I see that here as well. The fighting will be between business and municipalities. In Alberta, most municipalities did nothing about it and Sunday and holiday shopping is popular.
I heard the comments from Mr Fletcher with the consumers' report. I just wanted to comment on that. I have eight children and five grandchildren in Alberta. They all think that Sunday shopping is not for them, except for the ones who find they are working six days a week and have to have one day to go shopping. Several of my kids do because of the economic conditions.
The majority of the stores that I am aware of in Alberta that are open on holidays and Sundays are open in the larger communities. They are not open in the small communities, which are the ones which would be more affected by the lack of manpower and retail workers. In a sense, this is taking business back to the old days and deciding when to open, because they do have a choice.
I agree with open shopping providing the workers are protected. Protect the workers if they are not sufficiently protected. But why not leave it up to the businesses to run their businesses? They know whether they can afford to be open. Less legislation, not more, would assist a great deal.
I wish you all the best in your deliberation.
Mr Sorbara: I guess you will not be surprised if I tell you the views you are expressing here on behalf of the Eastern Ontario Travel Association are the views we have been hearing over and over again in every community we have visited thus far in these deliberations.
Mr Phillips: I understand that.
Mr Sorbara: I guess you would not be surprised, as well, if I told you that in comparison to what was being heard during similar committee hearings in 1988, the world has changed dramatically. That is to say that by and large the people of Ontario, individually and through their representatives, save and except -- I have to give credit where credit is due -- the trade union movement and some fundamentalist religious groups, believe we are now mature enough to be able to develop a level of self-regulation of Sunday shopping which does not require massive provincial interference. Is that surprising to you?
Mr Phillips: No, it is not surprising.
Mr Kormos: It is offensive.
Mr Sorbara: I would just tell my friend from Welland-Thorold that he can express his concern or offence later on.
Mr Kormos: You are really offensive to speak of "some fundamentalist" church groups. The Catholic Church in Ontario is just some modest element of the religious movement? My God.
Mr Kormos: Excuse me, Mr Chairman, my apologies.
Mr Sorbara: I think your responsibility, Mr Chairman, is to rule the member for Welland-Thorold out of order and ask him to be quiet while I finish the question.
The Chair: Please direct your comments to the witness.
Mr Sorbara: If it turns out the government is wise enough simply to withdraw this bill and allow a community like the Kingston area to find its own level of regulation for Sunday shopping, what do you expect is going to happen here? Do you expect that every store will open? Do you expect store hours will be the same as, say, Thursday? What might we expect to see emerge in the Kingston area, or in the eastern Ontario area?
Mr Phillips: My own personal opinion from the experience in Alberta, and I lived there for 20 years and went through all the processes out there, is that in the major centres -- perhaps the Ottawas, the Kingstons, maybe the Cornwalls; it is hard to say the size of communities -- that businesses that feel they can make a draw, the shopping centres perhaps, may consider staying open. I think if you go into Alberta today, the only places you will find stores open on holidays or Sundays are the Calgarys, the Edmontons -- and the Jaspers and Banffs during the summer; they are not open on Sundays during the winter.
Mr Sorbara: If I just might conclude with one final question, you had the benefit of living in Alberta, where Sunday shopping is much less regulated than it is here. Prior to the election here in 1990, and in fact during consideration of the bill which gave municipalities the unfettered discretion to set their own rules on Sunday shopping, the current Premier of the province, then the Leader of the Opposition, Bob Rae, made a number of speeches in which he said that family life would deteriorate, that the bonds between husband and wife and children would be broken if we allowed community by community to set their own rules. He proclaimed that employers would coerce workers into working on Sunday. He did not quite predict the end of the world, but he predicted a sort of social chaos in the province if we proceeded with that bill. The bill was not much different from what you had in Alberta.
Did you find the quality of family life in Alberta to be of a significantly lower quality than in Ontario, that the social fabric of the province is significantly more strained because people can make a free choice as to whether they open their businesses on Sunday or whether they actually go out to shop on Sunday?
Mr Phillips: I really do not think it has changed anything. I am not a social worker; I do not know the social implications in Alberta. But knowing the people I have known over 20 years, it has not changed anyone that I am aware of.
Mr Daigeler: I asked this question of an earlier presenter and I would like to ask it of you. Do you see any connection between the cross-border shopping issue and the Sunday opening question?
Mr Phillips: I would prefer perhaps to leave that to some following presenters because they have more of the facts and the details on it. There have been comments about the United States and the Americans. I was in Baltimore for a conference recently. The stores in Philadelphia, which you would think of as a major historical attraction, are closed on Sundays. I do not think it detracted from the numbers of people who went there, and that is going against what I feel. However, the stores were closed on Sunday in Philadelphia, which is a major American city, a historical city, one that is very dependent on tourism. It has not affected them. I am arguing the other side now from what I personally feel.
Mr Daigeler: That is interesting.
Mr Phillips: It is a strange concept, but to answer your question of whether I go shopping in the United States on Sunday: no. I do not go shopping anywhere on Sunday if I do not have to. It is the one day I feel I have the option to do what I wish to do, and if I wanted to go shopping, I would like to be able to, personally.
Mr Carr: I come from a background in marketing. You may be familiar with what happens at stores when they put the candy bars right by the cash register. What normally happens is people are not searching for a candy bar, but when it is there, it is sort of a point-of-sale type of pickup and they grab it.
From what I was hearing, that is exactly what happens with the tourist in a lot of ways. They do not come here to shop. It is not the number one reason they come to Ontario from the United States or from other parts of Ontario to your region, but while they are here, there is a point-of-sale decision made, like Mr Morrow made to buy the hats and the spoons and so on. Is that what you are saying, why there is more increased activity in the area for tourists as they travel?
Mr Phillips: I think a tourist likes the option of being able to shop when he is in an area. We have in the Kingston area a great number of people who come in here on a weekend and want to do some shopping on Sunday. An example is that I had -- I will throw a term at you and see how many people's eyes go up -- a volksmarsch on Sunday. We had 170 people from outside the Kingston area in Kingston on Sunday. I know personally that a great number of those people went into stores and bought clothing. They bought things at the stores including souvenirs and all kinds of gifts. There were 170 people from as far away as Comox, British Columbia, one lady from Norway and 18 from New York state who came up for our walk. There were 95 people from the local area whom I did not expect to do any shopping on Sunday, but the others, I would say without a doubt, all spent some money in Kingston on Sunday.
Mr Carr: As we have gone around the province, a lot of businesses say there are enough workers out there who are willing to work. We heard from a small business in the Beaches area of Toronto that said it had a list of 200 people who wanted to work -- students, women who want to work part-time and so on. The representations we have had have been mostly from the unions, the United Food and Commercial Workers, which of course is in the food portion of it. We have not heard from many of the retail workers, because in a lot of cases they are not organized into a union.
One of the things that struck me, since the big concern is the difference between the retail -- the clothing and so on -- and the grocery stores, is that we are hearing a lot of representation, and I think the government is, from those workers. I wanted to see if you would see a problem somehow if this government were to distinguish between food stores -- because I think a lot of the tourists who come up here go to restaurants; they do not go to food stores. I was thinking we might be able to keep some of the workers in the United Food and Commercial if we were to say food stores cannot open, because they are obviously just concerned about their own membership and that is what they are elected to do.
Would you see a big problem with your industry if we were to distinguish between those two groups of stores and maybe keep the A&Ps closed for the United Food and Commercial Workers but have retail stores open? Would that create a problem, or do you think you need to have it all open?
Mr Phillips: I do not personally think it would create a problem in our industry. The problem I think it would create is somebody crying discrimination and saying, "Why are you restricting it to certain businesses?"
Mr Carr: I see. Of course, we are going to get that now anyway because the exemptions are so broad, regardless of what side of the issue you are on. The only people who are going to benefit are the lawyers. We had the mayor in earlier, of course, and if she does open up a particular area, those that are opposed to it are going to be saying, "They did not follow the guidelines," and vice versa. Since there is no appeal process -- the municipalities are final -- we are going to end up in the courts. I think we may be spending a lot of time in that regard over the next little while.
It just happened upon me that the United Food and Commercial Workers came in and said they do not see people shopping for steaks and heads of lettuce. I quite frankly agree. I just thought there might be some type of compromise, so I appreciate that.
One of the other concerns that has been voiced is about the workers and people being forced to work. I wondered, coming from the travel industry, what your thoughts are about how you handle that. How do you make sure? We have heard some other areas saying that in the service industry, if you have somebody working on a Sunday who does not want to be there and whose face is down to the floor, whether it be a grocery store or a clothing store, you are going to lose business. They do not want those people in there. In this day and age, you just cannot afford to have poor service like that. How do you make it so the workers are protected and do not have to work if they do not want to in your industry? Or how do you see it working?
Mr Phillips: I do not get directly involved in that. I think some of the presenters coming up would have a better idea -- the motel associations, for example, and the other people that are in that direct field.
Let me just say this. As far as I am concerned, if a person is serving a tourist or a visitor or a resident, and that person is not top-notch, then they should not be in that business anyway, whether they are unionized or not. My personal feeling is that a person should be enjoying their work. If they are not, there are lots of other jobs if they go searching. I do not feel that anyone should be serving a visitor, in particular, and feeling down or complaining that they have to work on Sunday. That is why I stated in my presentation that I feel the right of the worker is paramount. I think they should be protected. I think it should be made very clear, that regardless of whether this passes or not there should be legislation that says a worker does not have to work on Sunday and is protected from that. I think an employer would be a little bit less than intelligent if he or she had people working who were going to do more harm than good to their business on a holiday or a Sunday.
Mr Carr: Good, thank you. Good luck.
Mr Mills: Thank you very much, Mr Phillips, and thank you for your presentation here this morning. I have said many times that we are here to listen and we are certainly listening and taking note.
I would just like to draw your attention to page 2 of your presentation, where you say, "We feel the rules should be the same for everyone, not left at the discretion of the local politicians." I would just like to tell you, sir, that the tourism criteria have been established through consultation with Tourism Ontario, the trade -- everybody connected with tourism was spoken to, not only here but right across North America. Those criteria were established through talking to people who know tourism. I will go another step further and say that once we have these criteria, which I admit are in a draft form only, that would indicate the government's commitment to establishing a fairness to every community, whether it is here, whether it is in North Bay, Oshawa. They can look at those criteria, and they will be same for everyone. It is not left up to the politicians at all. The politicians follow the criteria. If the draft legislation remains in place, they follow the criteria and they apply the criteria and then they make their decision. So I really do not think, as you said, that it is at the discretion of the local politicians, because they have to follow some very fine guidelines.
Mr Sorbara: If I might interrupt on a point of order, Mr Chairman: My friend Mr Mills has just set out what I consider to be an inadvertent misleading of our witness here. I will make my point very quickly and very briefly.
The Vice-Chair: Please do.
Mr Sorbara: If you look at subsection 4(7) of the proposed bill, Bill 115, it says, and I quote, "The council is not required to pass the bylaw even if the tourism criteria are met." I think my friend the presenter is saying that supports his argument that it is up to the local discretion of the politician. My friend Mr Mills is arguing that there are provincial criteria. Certainly, but the bill itself says that it does not matter if you meet the provincial criteria, the council has full discretion to say, "Sorry, we're not going to pass that bylaw and let you open." So to suggest to him that there is no discretion of local municipal politicians in refusing a bylaw is simply in error, and inadvertently misleads our witness.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Sorbara, I am sure Mr Mills has no intention of so doing.
Mr Sorbara: I find him an honourable man in most instances.
The Vice-Chair: Mr Mills, please continue.
Mr Mills: Thank you for that intermission.
Mr Sorbara: No, an interjection.
Mr Mills: No, I call it an intermission. I am sure Mr Phillips knows where I am coming from.
Mr Phillips: Could I answer that before you continue?
Mr Mills: Sure, go ahead.
Mr Phillips: The indication I was giving there is that I think there should be a provincial standard, not left up to local politicians. If in fact this bill is being passed outlining the tourism criteria, which we appreciate, why not have the provincial government take full responsibility instead of sending it back to local politicians making alternative decisions? In other words, we have in eastern Ontario 161 municipalities that could make 161 separate decisions on how they are going to read these laws and make their own decisions as to whether they allow opening or not. If the provincial government were simply to say, "This is the regulation, this is how it is," municipalities have no say in this sort of law.
I am not saying the criteria are not there. I am saying that what we are doing is simply passing something the government did in Alberta. It was fought in the courts, it was shot down, and now they allow the local municipality to decide again, and that is precisely what this bill is allowing the municipalities to do. I think that is what is wrong. If you are going to take charge, take charge and pass the bloody bill that will outline the whole thing and let's get it over with. Take the responsibility away from the local politicians, the municipalities. We are going to have to pay enormous sums of money to argue and listen at our hearings about the openings.
Mr Mills: That is the uniqueness of this hearing. We are listening.
Mr Phillips: Most times.
Mr Klopp: I find your comments somewhat interesting, coming from a small town. I do not know how big Lakefield is, but I come from Zurich, Ontario, population 800. It has not changed since I was even shorter than I am now. You made the comment they were closed on Wednesday, which strikes a chord, because that is what the local businesses did in Zurich Wednesday afternoons. But the key point has to be that they were all definitely businesses that were family-owned, small operations, hands on. Indeed, they all had to get together in a room somewhere and decide, "Listen, Fred, you don't open, I won't open." There was a certain amount of trust. They each had a gun, though, to keep the other one honest, and that was the law they made. I wish we could go back to that.
You made a point that in Alberta it is in the larger communities, usually because the big fish get bigger and then all of a sudden they want their managers or whatever to work on Sunday and they force them to work on the weekends. You said you want to protect the workers and I guess this is where my question leads in. In Alberta, have they had legislation, since they have it wide open, to give real protection to the workers? If so, could you please tell us so we could maybe look at that? You have made the suggestion.
Mr Phillips: I do not know. I am not sure what the legislation is protecting the workers in Alberta, but I know the unions are very strong there and I would be very surprised if there was not some protection. I am not totally familiar with it. I would rather not comment.
Mr Klopp: You are not aware, then?
Mr Phillips: No.
Mr Klopp: Because that is a dilemma.
Mr Phillips: Just as another example, years ago in the Maritimes, service stations used to get together in each city or each town and decide that one of them was going to be open on Sunday to serve the public and the rest of them were closed. Again, it is a self-regulating thing. It was not a law, it was not something that was passed by the government. They simply decided there was not enough business to go around, so one has to be open to serve the travelling public. It was self-regulating.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your fine presentation, Mr Phillips. You did a fine job.
Mr Sorbara: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: I do not think it is fair to ask our witnesses to comment on the legal provisions of other provinces. If my friend Mr Klopp would care to direct his attention to the brief prepared by the Ministry of the Solicitor General for those hearings, he will notice under tab 14 the legislation setting out the regulation of Sunday shopping in Alberta, along with a statement that there are no provisions under the employment standards legislation to protect workers who do not wish to work on holidays. Indeed, my own recollection is that that is the case in each provincial jurisdiction except the province of Ontario, which does have very substantive provisions under the law right now.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you for that point. It is not a point of order, but thank you for the information.
Mr Fletcher: In Alberta, since Sunday shopping has been established, collective agreements have been whittled away so that instead of getting time and a half, double time, on Sundays, now they are getting a premium that has gone lower and lower. That is what happened in Alberta.
Mr Kormos: On a point of order, Mr Chair: At some point during the day could the clerk or the Chair spend some time with Mr Sorbara and educate him as to what constitutes points of order, because if he is going to be pursuing his political career in the direction that he envisions, it is important he know these very basic and fundamental things. We would not want him to go off on some sort of tangent, not in pursuit of the goals he is chasing.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Kormos. You can join the class too. That is not a point of order, but I appreciate the information.
Mr Sorbara: My friend, you have opened this discussion up to an entirely new dimension.
KINGSTON DISTRICT CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Vice-Chair: Next, could I have the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce. Can I please have you introduce yourself? You have half an hour. You can divide that up however you wish and I would imagine that the fine gentlemen up here would like to ask you questions when you are done.
Ms Reid: I do not believe I will need half an hour.
I am Peggy Reid. I am president of the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce. We are an association of Kingston area businesses with over 900 member firms and we are the strong united voice of business, committed to initiating, developing, promoting, protecting and evaluating policies and programs which further economic progress, free enterprise and quality of life in the greater Kingston area.
The Kingston District Chamber of Commerce, aware of the government of Ontario's commitment to provide a common pause day to help strengthen family and community life while protecting the rights of retail workers and recognizing the unique requirements of the tourism-dependent local economies by amending the Retail Business Holidays Act and the Employment Standards Act, wishes to express its concern over proposed legislation and takes the following position:
We believe merit should be given to the amendment to the Employment Standards Act which gives employees the absolute right to refuse Sunday and holiday work, but not by forcing businesses to remain closed. Individual employees should have the ability to choose to work or not to work on a Sunday or a holiday. Workers should also enjoy the right to work if that is their choice.
The Kingston District Chamber of Commerce resents the unilateral decision to have chambers of commerce and boards of trade act as regulatory bodies without consent. The burden of assuming the role of a regulatory body, with the legal implications that would accompany making these types of decisions, is far beyond the purview of chambers of commerce and boards of trade. What government organization will ensure that chambers of commerce and boards of trade do not approve only those businesses who are members?
Having surveyed the membership of the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce, the majority expressed the view that Sunday opening should be the decision of the individual business person, as is the case now with the length of store hours during the other days of the week. The issue ultimately becomes one of free choice.
The following motion was passed by the board of directors of the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce, "That the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce believes that retailers in greater Kingston should have the choice to open for business on Sundays."
A global common pause day in Ontario has not been a realistic fact in our society for many years now. Workers in many industries, including hospitality, manufacturing, tourism, emergency services and many others have long been working on Sundays. To penalize some retailers and some areas by requiring them to remain closed while allowing others to open is blatantly inequitable and unfair.
The tourist exemption criteria allow some retailers in predominantly tourist-oriented geographic areas the opportunity and choice to open on Sundays and holidays, while those outside the designated area are discriminated against. The freedom to choose should be available to all businesses.
Our conclusions and recommendations are the following. We recommend that:
(a) All business people be allowed the freedom to run their businesses as they feel appropriate;
(b) The tourism exemption criteria that unfairly favour some of the businesses and discriminate against others be reviewed; and
(c) The insensitive unilateral decision to impose a regulatory function on the chambers of commerce and boards of trade be rescinded.
Thank you very much.
Mr Sorbara: We appreciate hearing from the Kingston District Chamber of Commerce, and certainly the views you are expressing here have been expressed by and large right around the province during these hearings. I just want to ask you whether you are a native of Ontario; that is, whether you were born and raised here?
Ms Reid: I was born and raised in Kingston.
Mr Sorbara: Right, so you know the place pretty well.
Ms Reid: Yes.
Mr Sorbara: And you have been president of the chamber or involved with the chamber for how long?
Ms Reid: Six years.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Mills, who is the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General, said when the bill was being considered in Parliament, "As the minister" -- at that time we were talking about Mike Farnan; he is no longer the minister -- "has indicated, Bill 115 establishes a common pause day for Ontario." I just want to leave that thought with you. The government is saying this bill establishes a common pause day.
Would you be surprised if I told you that in Ontario people work at just about every occupation and undertaking that one could find in a modern, post-industrial economy? That is, they are miners, they work in mills, they are lawyers, doctors, construction workers, public sector workers, private sector workers, teachers and nurses. There is virtually every profession that you could find.
Ms Reid: I think that is what I stated.
Mr Sorbara: Okay, if you were running the province and you wanted to bring about a common pause day when most workers would not have to work, would you try and achieve that objective by closing down some stores just in the retail sector and not others? Would that be your approach to bringing about a common pause day?
Ms Reid: No.
Mr Sorbara: Why not?
Ms Reid: For one thing, we have to realize that, going back to the other speaker and the other gentlemen who were talking about retail stores being closed on Wednesday afternoons, all those types of things would be very nice but they are not realistic for today's society.
Mr Sorbara: Do you think this bill brings about a common pause day for teachers?
Ms Reid: There is no such thing in today's competitive environment as a common pause day. People have to work when it is best for their businesses to survive, and that is what we are talking about, economic survival. We no longer have a great big wall up between ourselves and the United States, not that we believe that some stores being allowed to open on Sunday is the answer to Sunday shopping. However, we now live in a very competitive global situation and businesses can no longer just put up their blinders and say, "I'm not going to be open and I don't have to be open, because I'll remain competitive if I don't." I think trying to get a common pause day in Ontario -- maybe you are trying to get it for retail workers only, but business goes on on Sundays and, as we stated, with the hospitality, emergency services, my family business undertaking, it does not stop on Sunday.
Mr Sorbara: Do you believe, first of all, that you can bring about a common pause day for all the people of Ontario -- because after all, that is what the government is suggesting it wants to do -- by simply directing yourself to the retail sector?
Mr Reid: No.
Mr Sorbara: And if you were going to want to bring about a common pause day for all the people of Ontario, would you pass a bill that allows some stores to open and some stores to close, and ignores every other occupation in Ontario?
Ms Reid: No.
Mr Sorbara: And do you believe that if this bill passes we will bring about a common pause day in Ontario?
Ms Reid: No.
Mr Daigeler: Do you see any connection between the Sunday shopping and the cross-border shopping? I asked that earlier.
Ms Reid: We do not believe it is a solution to cross-border shopping. When stores were allowed to be open in Kingston for a trial period, it was not the solution to cross-border shopping by any means. It is possible that some people did stay in this area to shop instead of going over to the United States. What we do notice is that a lot of Americans and other tourists who come to our area are used to shopping on Sunday and it is something that they would like to do. We feel we should be ready to serve our tourists.
Mr Daigeler: Basically, you do not think the Canadians would shop here just because stores were open Sundays.
Ms Reid: I think we are going to have to change a lot of other things as well to get Canadians to stay here.
Mr Carr: One of the things I learned when I became a new politician on September 6 is that there are quite often not too many changes in a bill. We have heard the Premier say that the fundamental principles will not change and the Solicitor General said that. However, the point C that you put in is one area that I think in recommendations we might see changed; of course, that was "the insensitive, unilateral decision to impose the regulatory functions on the chambers and boards of trades be rescinded." As you know, all the chambers feel that way. I just wanted to see what your thoughts were about the consultation process that went on with that.
Ms Reid: When the NDP was elected, we were told that we were going to be consulted on a regular basis and they were going to be talking with us about policies, etc. That communication has not happened and how this ended up on our plates -- we would like to understand how that was even thought about or why the chambers of commerce were involved in this decision at all. We are a group of business people. Membership in our organization is voluntary. We try to serve our members. This is not part of our mandate. We are not a regulatory body. Not being consulted and having this just put on -- when it came over the news, that was the first that any chamber of commerce had heard about it.
Mr Carr: Thank you. The new Solicitor General will be in this Thursday and we will personally ask him about that question because it is something that I think we may get changed.
Mr Carr: The other area deals with the tourist exemption. As you know, you have many businesses, and we have heard throughout the province that large portions of this province are going to be open, and how big and how many is just the question. As a result, there is some concern that there could be a lot of legal challenges, that there is going to be discrimination among areas and among businesses, those over 7,500 feet and those under and so on. I was just wondering what your thoughts were, the chamber's thoughts, as businesses, about that. Do they see a lot of legal battles ahead?
Ms Reid: I think with any piece of legislation, whenever you start bringing in exemptions and restrictions, you set up problems and you subject yourself to legal battles. If one business is allowed to be open, a clothing store in this downtown core, which may be designated a tourist area -- it certainly should be -- does that mean that a store of the same size in the Cataraqui Town Centre cannot be open because that is not designated as a tourist area? I think that then you get into unfair legislation, and if one store is allowed to be open we believe all stores should be allowed to be open, which is why we fight for free enterprise, not legislated enterprise.
Mr Carr: What has been your experience? We have gone to parts of the community where they say there are enough people who do want to work on Sunday, so I am talking particularly of the retail, not the food stores where it is sometimes a little more technical, if you have butchers, highly skilled people, you cannot bring in some other workers. But what is your feeling in terms of the number of workers who would be available to work on Sundays? Is there a large portion that would be willing?
Ms Reid: We are very fortunate in Kingston to have a large student body with Queen's University and St Lawrence College and many high schools in our area. Some of those students have made presentations at public meetings saying that they are willing and able and very anxious to work on Sundays. What we are talking about is a five-hour day for most stores, looking for retail workers, which is quite possible for students to fit into their schedules and it would be a nice break for them, as well as helping to fund their education.
Mr Mills: I would just like to touch on a couple of things. When we are going around here one of the roles I have is to listen to what people are saying and get some sort of feeling about how they feel about this whole issue. One would expect to hear a consensus of opinion coming from the same body, like the chambers. We were up in Sudbury last week, and this is where I am having difficulty hearing what the various groups are saying.
The Sudbury and District Chamber of Commerce said, "We're opposed to Sunday shopping." They went on to say that they felt strongly that there is essential value in the preservation of a periodic common pause day to most of society when the maximum number of people are free from their employment. So you can see how difficult it is if we are making recommendations where we have one chamber like you say they want everything open, and the other chambers say, "We don't want anything to do with it."
Ms Reid: Then maybe what the government should take into consideration is that it should let each business decide for itself. Freedom of choice. If Sudbury is not interested in opening on Sunday, why is it going to open then? Let them stay closed. People in Kingston want to be open. Let them be open. Why does the government have to decide that for the business person?
Mr Mills: We are trying to protect the workers, but I will leave that.
Ms Reid: You have protected the workers by your Employment Standards Act.
Mr Mills: I would just like to touch on your paragraph 2 on page 2 of your presentation where you say that you resent "the unilateral decision to have chambers...act as regulatory bodies without consent." I do not see offering a letter of support in any way as being a regulatory body. I would just like to tell you that it is perfectly true that the government did not consult with the chamber of commerce in Kingston or Sudbury or wherever, but it did consult with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce to see how it felt about this, how it felt about being involved.
Mr Carr: Careful there.
Ms Reid: I do not believe Mr Carnegie would agree with that. Could you show me a letter, please, that you have written or some sort of communication that you have had with the OCC?
Mr Mills: We consulted widely with the chamber for its opinion.
Ms Reid: Can you please give me the name of the person you contacted?
Mr Mills: I do not have the letter right in front of me, but they were widely consulted.
Ms Reid: We would strongly dispute that.
Mr Mills: We have someone from tourism today.
Ms Reid: Mr Mills, I would appreciate it then if in the future, when you get back to your office, we could have some indication of what type of communication that took.
Mr Mills: I just want to conclude by telling you that it was never the intent of the government to put the chamber in the position that is being suggested. We thought that the involvement of the chamber was a very good and well-taken point.
Ms Reid: When you have a volunteer organization and you have to work very hard for your membership dues and the functions you run, the chamber of commerce has no desire at all to become a regulatory body.
Mr Mills: You are not being asked to be that.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. One thing I have heard throughout the province from chambers of commerce is that the membership of each chamber of commerce is divided on the issue, that they do not know if they want to open or close. The one thing that is coming through loud and clear from the chambers is that they want to have the choice.
In fact, I am not sure if they even know if they want to have the choice, because when I look at what the Sarnia Lambton Chamber of Commerce is saying, Gord Catterson, his fear is that if a large centre opens up for Sunday shopping, the smaller centres could be forced to open. He said, "You don't like to be in the position of forcing other people into a decision to do something they might not want to do." The same thing goes with the Sarnia-Clearwater chamber of commerce.
The London Chamber of Commerce is divided among the membership. Some larger corporations feel they have the manpower but the small businesses do not and as a result the chamber does not have a position. The St Thomas and District Chamber of Commerce, from Bob Hammersley: "There hasn't been an uproar for Sunday shopping. The majority of store owners don't want it." The Woodstock business improvement area, from Mr Talbot, "It's not worth it here," after some of their experiments. What we are hearing, though, loud and clear from the chambers is (a) they do not want to be involved with the legislation -- we can do that; it is no problem there -- and (b) it comes down to choice. That is exactly what your position has been. As far as your membership in this area is concerned, though, are they divided on the issue of whether to open or close?
Ms Reid: We polled a statistically significant portion of our membership, and 68% felt the businesses should have the choice to be open.
Mr Fletcher: Choice, right.
Ms Reid: That was a reasonable sample of our membership. We did not have time to poll all 900, but it was a statistically significant portion.
Mr Fletcher: Right, that is what we are hearing, that it is the choice.
Mr Jordan: There has been considerable reference to the common pause day throughout this legislation and the discussion on it. Would you care to give a definition of what you think is meant by a common pause day and the purpose of that day?
Ms Reid: I do not believe, as I was saying at the beginning, that there is such a thing any more as a common pause day. A common pause day to me would be that know, the whole province would be shut down, and that is not possible in today's society.
Mr Klopp: It never was shut down.
Ms Reid: Farmers have never had a Sunday off, I do not believe.
Mr Klopp: No, we still do chores in the morning, but I take the afternoon off. You have to feed the cattle once a day.
Ms Reid: Yes, but you organize your business based on what you have to do when you have to do it. You are allowed to do that. You are free to do that.
Mr Jordan: But to try to legislate a common pause day, what is the purpose of the common pause day?
Ms Reid: I have no idea.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, Ms Reid, for that fine presentation.
I would like to make one announcement. I know what everybody here is doing tonight. The interim summary of recommendations for the first week are done and they are being Xeroxed as we speak, so I can imagine everybody will be just busy reading this evening.
Mr Carr: No shopping tonight again.
The Vice-Chair: No, no shopping tonight.
The Vice-Chair: Motels Ontario, please. Can you please introduce yourself. You have half an hour. You can divide that up however you like, but I am sure these fine gentlemen up here would like to ask you a few questions when you are done.
Mr Melo: Thank you for this opportunity of making this presentation to your committee concerning Bill 115. My name is Bob Melo. Our family has been involved in the hospitality industry for over 30 years. We have grown from operating a local restaurant downtown to owning Kingston's largest hotel and conference centre, the Ambassador Hotel, which actually this should have happened in.
Currently. I am a director representing tourism on the Kingston Area Economic Development Commission. In this position, my duties include representing the Kingston and area tourism advisory committee as chairman. Also, I am the first vice-chairman of Motels Ontario. This association represents 1,000 motels, motor inns, motor hotels and is now growing with the addition of country inns; 95% of our members are independently owned and operated accommodations. These, like our own family business, are true small business enterprises.
Destination Canada is another association I serve as secretary. This association's mandate is to increase group travel in Canada.
Sunday shopping is very important to the tourism industry, especially to Kingston and the surrounding area which borders the United States. Ontario's tourism industry has been devastated for the past two years. Occupancies were down 20% on average in 1990 over 1989. Occupancies have fallen a further 20% on average so far this year. We are losing more Ontarians to the south and fewer Americans are coming to Ontario.
Sunday shopping will help tourism. It will help keep more Ontarians in the province and increase out-of-province tourists coming into Ontario. Shopping is a key tourist activity, even ahead of dining out. Countless numbers of surveys which have been completed by federal and provincial authorities have proven this.
Retail shopping is an integral part of the tourism experience. It represents a significant portion of all tourism expenditures in Ontario. Most retail shopping takes place on weekends. We believe the majority of Ontarians and visitors to Ontario favour unrestricted retail shopping on Sundays and holidays as part of their family activities.
Ontario is currently losing billions of dollars of annual tourism and retail sales to bordering American jurisdictions, which are wide open for retail business on Sundays and holidays. Recent statistics from Statistics Canada, widely quoted in the media in July, show that cross-border shopping is up almost 20% over last year. In May of 1991, 5.2 million same-day trips were made by Canadians to the United States, up from 4.4 million in May of last year. The more restrictive this government makes Sunday shopping, the more this province, its tourism businesses and its employees continue to lose money to American border states.
We commend your government for endeavouring to recognize the value and importance of tourism in Bill 115. The bill does contain some tourism exemptions. However, we are concerned that the legislation, as currently written, will result in costly and time-consuming administrative burdens and litigation. Why? Because municipalities and retail businesses will have a hard time trying to interpret, comply with and apply the proposed provincial tourism criteria in the context of a common pause day.
A wide divergence of opinion over the legal significance of the criteria is already emerging in the municipalities. This divergence of opinion will lead to an unfair patchwork of exemptions that have nothing to do with tourism.
As Bill 115 is currently written, the tourist criteria are to be contained in regulations to the act and carry the weight of law. As a result, the government will be free to amend the criteria at will, without public consultation or legislative review. To avoid the potential of significant change without public review, we propose that these regulations be embodied in the legislation. Legislation requires legislative review prior to amendment.
Also, in what we believe is a recognition of the complexity of the tourist criteria, we understand that the NDP is privately developing additional guidelines. Included in these additional guidelines will be the NDP's definition of "tourist" and "tourism." To date, the government has failed to conduct full consultation on the content of these additional guidelines. We believe that a full public review of these guidelines is vital if the public is to fully understand the impact of the government's amendments.
Tourism Ontario Inc proposed a definition of "tourism" in its brief to you, which we recommend be adopted. We add our voice to those you have already heard from in Ontario's tourism industry: that this committee must seriously consider Tourism Ontario Inc's recommended changes to the proposed Retail Business Holidays Act amendments and regulations. These suggestions were outlined in its brief to this committee, presented July 29, 1991. Some highlights are:
Tourist area characteristics: The list of characteristics should be expanded to: (a) include tourism in the area which has historically been an important part of the local economy, and (b) providing goods or services necessary to tourist activities in the area.
Retail business restrictions: This whole section is redundant and should be removed. The number of persons serving the public and the floor space occupied by a qualifying retail business should have no bearing on its ability to meet common tourism criteria.
Tourism season qualifier: These time periods will vary within a designated tourist area, as will the length of the tourist season for various types of qualifying retail businesses, due to a wide variety of market-driven circumstances. This qualifier should therefore be removed.
Part I, Retail Business Holiday Act amendments. Clause 1(1)(aa) of the amendment act, 1989, should be amended to permit all local municipal councils within a district, county, metropolitan or regional municipality, to enact bylaws to permit retail businesses in each local municipality to be open on holidays for the maintenance or development of tourism. It is an unnecessary duplication to burden metropolitan or regional councils with applications from local councils regarding tourist-area exemptions.
Council's obligations: in subsection 4(7), municipal councils should not be granted discretionary power through which they can refuse to pass a designated tourist-area bylaw permitting retail businesses that meet the provincial tourism criteria to be open on Sundays and holidays.
Councils' decisions: In subsection 4(8), it is undemocratic that a given municipal council's decision would be final on whether or not it wished to pass a bylaw to permit retail businesses to be open on Sundays and holidays for the maintenance and development of tourism. This defeats the whole purpose of its having such authority in the first place. This clause means that once a municipality has made its decision not to allow an exemption in future years, no reasons could ever be presented to it, or no new tourism developments could ever occur that would cause it to change its mind.
Procedures of councils: In clause 4(9)(d), municipal councils should not be granted the power to limit the number of applications from retail businesses that they will consider in a given year. Businesses should be free to apply for the exemption at least once every calendar year.
Transitional rules: We recommend that subsection 6(2) of the Retail Business Holidays Amendment Act, 1989, be retained as transitional rules for the purpose of the Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act, 1991. The provision of tourism criteria to exempt qualifying retail establishments from Sunday and holiday closing requirements in Bill 115 also establishes, however, a minefield of obstacles to the realization of these laudable objectives. It is unreasonable to require that all municipalities in Ontario comply with the transitional rules set out in Bill 115.
Part II, Employment Standards Act: Ontario's tourism industry is grateful that the proposed amendments to part XI-B of the Employment Standards Act do recognize the operating realities of our industry. It is important to remember that employers in our industry and in all other industries must retain the absolute right to schedule work and to dictate work schedules. It is worthwhile repeating that of more than 10,000 inquiries and complaints registered with the Employment Standards Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Labour in 1990, fewer than 15 were related to the right of retail workers to refuse to work on Sundays and holidays.
Conclusions: Sunday and holiday shopping has become an economic necessity for many thousands of Ontarians as they struggle to balance working realities with their personal and family responsibilities. It is also the primary activity for tourists in our province. The province of Ontario and its municipalities benefit directly and considerably from tourism expenditures.
All levels of government are constantly searching for new sources of revenue to fund all manner of social services, education, better health care, improved roads, and affordable housing. Government recognition and protection of tourism values, and the operational realities of the tourism industry at both the provincial and municipal levels, will enhance significantly the ability of government to provide those services for all citizens.
While we commend the efforts of the Minister of Tourism and Recreation to recognize the value and importance of tourism in Bill 115, we are very concerned that the full potential of our industry related to Sunday shopping as a major tourism activity will not be realized unless significant amendments are made to the act.
We add our voice to the recommendation of Tourism Ontario Inc, that this committee and the government of Ontario seriously consider all the facts and recommendations detailed in the brief from Tourism Ontario Inc and in our remarks to you today.
Thank you for your kind attention and your serious consideration of our views.
Mr Mills: Mr Melo, I would like to make a clarification to a statement you made on page 6, under section 3, as it refers to subsection 4(8). It says the clause means that once a municipality has made its decision not to allow an exemption, in future years no reasons could ever be presented. That is not quite correct. The provision does allow for an applicant to come back to apply to a municipality with a fresh application, having been refused once.
Mr Melo: I think what they are talking about is closing the whole door on everybody. As they said, they are not even going to look at the whole thing. From what I understand, and I believe this is true, the council first chose to make a decision whether they are going to allow even the thought of Sunday openings, so first there has to be a vote to even vote on looking at opening Sundays.
Mr Mills: Yes, I take that point. I am just saying that the section does give the right to an individual who has made an application and has been turned down by the council, to resubmit that application for consideration at a later date.
Mr Melo: The main point of this is that if a city decides not to even pursue Sunday shopping whatsoever, and to close the door on everybody, then that is what this is saying. They are not even going to get a chance. Individually they cannot even look at it because they are shutting down the whole city.
Mr Poirier: Thank you for your presentation, Mr Melo. I understand where you are coming from to protect and defend the tourism industry, and I commend you for it.
I put myself in the shoes of a tourist coming into Kingston, either by motor home or who docks at your marina on a boat. Obviously the tourist who arrives tomorrow morning from far away might not be cognizant of this incredible debate we are having on Sunday shopping and openings and tourism sectors and whatever. Thank the Lord, I would not want to ruin his holidays.
If I dock in Kingston on a Sunday, or arrive with my motor home on a Sunday, it is just coincidence that I happen to come into Kingston on a Sunday. For you, the manager, the owner of a small family-owned tourism attraction business, after hearing what I heard from the chamber of commerce and others, would it not have greater attraction and shopping power for the Kingston area to let business decide whether it is tourism or not -- due to the great definition of tourism -- so that if I wanted to, say, replace the coffee machine in my motor home, because it went kaput on Saturday night and I want some coffee on Sunday, I would be able to go into Kingston and buy it.
Would that not make me more interested in staying and shopping in Kingston, and also benefiting you as a tourism operator, as opposed to our redefining what tourism strictly is in the law? How would you feel? Do you agree with that chamber of commerce position?
Mr Melo: We went from a little restaurant to a huge facility. We did that because we had faith and we trusted the government. We felt we would be able to survive. We are not going to work all those hours so that future governments would just shut us down, and shut down other businesses.
This is a democratic country. There is very much protection for staff. We protect our own staff. We have some of them work on Sunday so that people can sleep and eat on Sunday. We believe that if you treat the staff well, they will stay with you.
Next week we are going to have a celebration for two of our staff members who have been with us for 25 and 30 years; that is proof of how we treat our staff. If someone mistreats staff, forces them to work on days they do not want to work and that type of thing, they can basically get another job. It is not that difficult. If a person really wants to work, he will find a job. The pay may not be as high as the job he had before, but he will find that job.
Right now, there is so much protection for the staff, it is going beyond necessity. A good business will keep good staff and it will treat its staff well.
In answering your question, it is very important that the rest of the businesses get that ability to work well with their staff, to give jobs for those weekends that they could not offer before because they did not have the hours that the facility was open. The tourist wants to get served. The tourist will turn away when he finds out that things are closed.
If we do our job well and give them the ability to get access to certain things -- I know that Canada is actually a little bit overpriced right now, but it is providing better value, and the customers who are out there do look for value and will pay extra for it. It is just hard that some of the major items they look at are gas and beverages, and those are way overpriced. We would like to find ways of maybe flat-lining those to find other taxes for the government to make money, because I know the government has to support itself.
We hope the government also reduces much of the legislation that is going on, so that it does not have to spend as much to take care of all that, and that it lets the businesses work, and works with them.
Mr Poirier: If the chamber of commerce's wish came true and the current government saw the light and allowed businesses to decide themselves whether they were tourists or not or whether they wanted to open on a Sunday or not, would you, as a tourist business operator, as an Ambassador Hotel, think you would benefit as more, as much or less from that type of decision?
Mr Melo: One of our worst days of occupancy is Sunday and it is all throughout any area that does not have enough tourism activities. Those businesses that are successful will advertise that certain things are available and they will usually work co-operatively. That is what we are trying to do through the different associations I am involved with, work hand in hand with retail and with whatever sector is out there to increase business in this area.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for your presentation. I was interested on in your comments at the very top of page 3 saying: "Retail shopping is an integral part of the tourism experience. It represents a significant portion of all tourism expenditures in Ontario." There are some people who say that is not the case, that people do not come up here to shop. I was just wondering if you could expand on how you see it, why it is such an integral part of it.
Mr Melo: I think you just have to look at the people who are going. You could look at even your own wives, etc. If you are going to a conference, wherever you are going, it is just nature that the person wants to shop. It is just part of their nature. It has been proven over and over again that shopping is a major part of the tourism activities, and that actually by far more money goes to shopping than the attractions and the hotels and even food. They will spend more money on shopping than on those items, and also the amount of money that is spent on gas rates higher than most of the other tourist attractions.
Mr Carr: The tourism exemptions that are outlined in the regulations are so broad that virtually any part of Ontario could qualify for that. In fact, I think that is one of the reasons they were made so broad, so that really any region can take them. But one of the problems that may come up is that we have seen this morning the mayor of Kingston saying definitely the downtown area, there is no doubt about it, but other areas might not qualify. As a result of that, there has been some talk that there are going to be a lot of legal battles over it, saying, "Downtown opened; we're no different than they are." How do you see that affecting your particular association if one area is open and one area is closed, other than just confusion for the entire province? What else would you see as a problem?
Mr Melo: The customer will get confused and then you have to try to explain to the customer why this and that are not available. I think really we are a democratic province and that we should allow the businesses to choose for themselves. Many businesses will choose not to open, simply because they themselves do not want to work. Then so be it. But those that are just on the borderline, that are just about to flip, and I guarantee you that within the next 12 months you will see many businesses flip, they will be gone unless we get on the ball and allow them some avenue that will help them keep alive. We have to do it. Otherwise, we might as well just let more people go off on unemployment and we will all be paying more taxes to support them.
Mr Carr: I agree that shopping for things like clothes is an integral part of it, because I know my mother has always said she would rather go shopping than go watch the Blue Jays or something like that.
You know this government has said it wants to protect the workers, and primarily the unionized workers who have come from the United Food and Commercial Workers have been a large part of that. What they say is that their particular industry, the A&Ps and the food stores, is not affected by that, that most tourism people who come go to restaurants and so on, although in Collingwood they said there is a lot of camping, so people do buy heads of lettuce and so on, but that may be a small portion.
One of the concerns is that this government is putting the legislation in to protect some of those workers. I asked one of the other gentlemen earlier whether he saw a problem if they made it such that food stores do not open but that somebody who wants to open, for example, to buy a shirt or something like that, was open. Do you see a problem in that area? Would you still feel you would lose tourism dollars if food stores were not open?
Mr Melo: Food stores are not a major part of the shopping thing, but in fact what does happen is that when American tourists in Canada see so many things that are closed, it is part of the decision for them to go back to the United States and do all their shopping. We have had people who have literally driven for an hour back to their home country, bought their liquor, filled up the gas tank, bought their groceries and come back. It happens all the time. If they really thought about the money they spent on gas getting back there, they would have saved it, but of course what helps them is that the stores are closed: This is closed; that is closed.
Mr Carr: In fact one of the chaps who came in Toronto said that. He said the reason some of the people are going across is because of the gasoline, the cigarettes and the booze, all of which this government introduced increased taxes on in the last budget, so he is saying, "You're not helping the problem because they're the three big items." He said we can compete with the shirts; people are not going across to buy a shirt. He was with a major manufacturer of shirts, a retailer of men's clothing. But he said they are going across to get the cheap booze, cigarettes and gasoline.
One of the concerns I have relates to the tourism exemption that is laid out and is very broad and is left to the interpretation of the municipalities, because unfortunately what happens with politicians is they will do whatever they want, and can justify it. With them being so broad they can say, "You can open if you want." Others will say, "No, it didn't meet the criteria," and really there is no second sober thought.
A lot of them have said they wanted it left up to the municipalities. One chap in North Bay said he did not want a TBS, a Toronto-based solution. They really liked the idea of deciding in their community. I just wondered what your thoughts were, why you do not like this decentralized approach of leaving it up to municipalities, which presumably will listen to the will of the people.
Mr Melo: The problem with the municipalities is they do not necessarily listen to business. The businesses are the ones that are supporting the people who vote for them. All that happens is there is more confusion. I think this province should grow up and say: "We are a democracy. We've got lots of protection for our staff. Go ahead. If you want to open up, you can go ahead and open up."
Mr Klopp: I was interested in your last comment. Are you saying that business should be running the province and people should not be voting, or what?
Mr Melo: No, I just think it is time for the governments that are delegating to the businesses to work together. I am here begging the governments to work with me. It is not a war against governments. Why is it that other countries can work with their businesses and our province seems to be going backwards?
Mr Klopp: The local politicians, I am sure, listen to business. I believe in Kingston they do allow the local area right up here so that your place can have work because the tourists are there, so I find it a little bit odd. You made a comment that, "Retail shopping is an integral part of the tourism experience." In a previous summation, an economic status report of the greater Kingston area concluded that 24% of the dollar actually is that amount, so I would say the other 75% goes to places like yourself or whatever where people buy. I would say that is a fair amount, but it is 24% according to this group.
Mr Melo: It is 24% of shopping: Is that what you are saying?
Mr Klopp: It is that 24% of all tourist dollars are spent on gifts, clothing and miscellaneous items. Yours has a greater significant part. It is 24%, just so you know.
Mr Melo: If you think about it, 24% is four parts of 100%, right? What is the tourist doing when he is here? He is buying gas. He is buying food. He is staying at different places and actually what seems to be going very highly now is they are staying with friends and the campsites seem to be doing well.
Mr Klopp: That is where the other 75% is going; 24% is actually retail buying.
Mr Melo: What I am saying is that 24% is a major part, if not the major expenditure for the tourist.
Mr Klopp: Okay, I just wondered. We went about nine months where it was wide-open, with no law, and yet if I am reading these numbers right, when there was no law in Ontario, free enterprise or whatever you want to call it, 20% more people went across the border to shop. We actually lost more business.
Mr Melo: No. Actually the real facts with Kingston and area is that as soon as the laws closed, there seemed to be more of a mass exodus, as soon as that happened. Keep in mind too that this was happening at the lull of the year. Actually that lull we were hit with on the GST really helped some of those businesses just to survive. It is just too bad that it did not continue on.
Mr Klopp: The statistical numbers here that you pointed out are exactly opposite to what you are talking about.
Mr Melo: Which stats?
Mr Klopp: The 5.2 million people.
Mr Melo: That is for the month of May, one month.
Mr Klopp: It is on page 3. Unless I am interpreting those numbers wrong, until I asked the question --
Mr Melo: See, it is just the one month of May.
Mr Klopp: I believe that is when there was wide-open shopping.
Mr Melo: There was no wide-open shopping in May. It stopped in March.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Melo, for your extremely well-articulated presentation.
UNITED FOOD AND COMMERCIAL WORKERS, LOCAL 1000A
The Chair: We now have a delegation from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Local 1000A. Ms Pearl MacKay is the education research and director, and I believe is also a vice president of the Ontario Federation of Labour. Could you introduce your colleagues for the purpose of the recorder?
Ms MacKay: Once again my name is Pearl MacKay. I am representing Local 1000A of the United Food and Commercial Workers. Dave Mallen works at a local Loblaws store in Kingston township. Warren Kennedy is the business representative for Locals 175 and 633 in the Kingston area.
This is actually the first time that Local 1000A, which I work for, has had an opportunity to make a presentation before this standing committee. I want to thank you for having that opportunity.
Just to give you a bit of background, I have been, as most of you know, travelling with the committee through Thunder Bay, North Bay and Sudbury, yesterday in Ottawa, and again today in Kingston. I think I have a different perspective and maybe when it comes to the questioning I might be able to answer questions on it, in that I have actually heard not as a representative or a worker of government. I have seen a perspective. People have presented and I have sat in the audience for those presentations.
Our local represents over 10,000 workers in Ontario. Most are employed in the food retail business, working for companies such as Loblaws, Combined Merchandisers Inc -- which is the SuperCentres -- No Frills, Valu-Marts and Sunnybrook Foods. Some 450 of our members work and live in the Kingston area. With Local 175 and 633 they have an additional 2,300 members in the Kingston area.
In previous briefs you have seen the outlay of what people for 175 worked for; for example, the A&P stores in the communities. For many years Local 1000A has been an outspoken critic of wide-open Sunday shopping. We have participated in various coalitions and appeared before numerous groups to detail reasons for our opposition to Sunday store openings. We have lobbied hard to inform people of the social and human costs of Sunday working.
Experience shows that without a province-wide law keeping stores closed, workers cannot be protected from pressures to work on Sundays and holidays. Without strong legislation, governments are unable to prevent an erosion of family values and activities.
Our opposition to wide-open Sunday shopping makes us appreciative of the government's efforts to bring forward legislation that recognizes and supports a common pause day for retail workers to share with their families and friends, like the vast majority of other workers in other sectors of the economy.
While the UFCW has several concerns with the proposed amendments, the government commitment to this principle is an important step forward. I want to reiterate that. This is the one government that has actually taken on the challenge finally to deal with the Retail Business Holidays Act, as we see, in an appropriate manner. That is to first and foremost enshrine a common pause day for Ontario for retail workers.
Mr Sorbara: Finally the province has seen the light.
Ms MacKay: Finally some party has.
Mr Sorbara: You have a party affiliation, do you?
Ms MacKay: Can I continue my presentation? Thank you. I welcome your questions at the end of my presentation.
Mr Sorbara: I have one right now. Do you have a party affiliation? It is simple and straightforward.
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, would you please not interrupt the witness?
Mr Sorbara: I would be proud to announce my association with the Liberal Party of Ontario, and you should be proud to announce --
Ms MacKay: Yes, I am absolutely proud to announce my affiliation with the NDP. I do not think that --
Mr Sorbara: "Personally, I am an NDPer, I always have been and I always will be." There is nothing wrong with that.
Ms MacKay: Yes, but we are not discussing party affiliation here today. We are discussing the rights of retail workers. I would like to get on with that and not waste the time of this committee and my time dealing with those other issues.
Mr Fletcher: On a point of order, Mr Chair: I do not that it is right for any member to be badgering the witness while she is presenting, and I feel Mr Sorbara is doing that right now.
Mr Sorbara: If I could just respond to the point of order, sir, very briefly. I have been travelling with Ms MacKay in this committee. For quite some time we have been, in a sense, working together. If my comments were construed as badgering, I certainly would apologize. I think it was a friendly banter back and forth among two people who happen to be on a journey together on an important piece of provincial legislation.
Ms MacKay: I am sorry. Perhaps we can have this discussion after this hearing is over. I only have half an hour to make a presentation and you are wasting my time.
Mr Sorbara: I would move that we give additional time, an additional five minutes, to Ms MacKay to make her presentation.
The Chair: All those in favour?
The Chair: Could we please allow Ms MacKay to continue her presentation without interruption.
Ms MacKay: No longer is it necessary for our union to detail the reasons for keeping stores closed. We can instead focus on what exemptions should be allowed under the Sunday closing laws.
Local 1000A has always recognized the need for some businesses to operate on Sundays and holidays. However, we believe the exemptions should be strictly limited. We also believe that all exemptions should be applied consistently across the province.
We commend this government for taking this challenging issue on and for the proposed amendments to the Retail Business Holidays Act. However, they fail to meet what we consider the necessary limitations. The criteria for tourist exemption privileges are too broad. There is also a lack of specific language dealing with drugstores and closed-membership warehouses.
I do understand that on I believe the second day of this committee's hearings there was a presentation or a written opinion presented, I think through the Attorney General's office, stating that the closed-membership warehouses do come under the legislation. That being the case, we do not believe they even understand they come under it. We would recommend that the legislation still needs to be amended to clearly indicate that businesses such as Price Clubs do come under the legislation. I do understand as well that there has been an order go out to the police departments to start to enforce the RBHA in terms of Price Clubs.
It is our position that changes must be made in order to prevent an inappropriate weakening of the common pause day principle. Specifically, we submit the following five recommendations. I am not going to read through them in detail because you have heard them in the past. I think we are the one group of people or organization that has been unanimous in terms of our position on what amendments we see need to be made to strengthen the intent of this government, which is to preserve a common pause day for the province.
Number 1 is to define the common pause day, and that is to enhance the definition of the common pause day under the current amendments. Number 2 is to establish tighter tourist exemption privileges.
I will just slip over to page 4. The hearings I have been at just reinforce our position we have been taking at the hearings, in that there needs to be a committee of stakeholders to get together and work out what are going to be the tourism criteria in the province. I have heard it consistently through all of the hearings that everyone seems to have a different viewpoint. Well, the people who are going to be enforcing this law are ourselves, and we are best to say what would be the criteria that are legitimate in terms of tourism. That would include, for example, Tourism Ontario. We are not saying it should just be a body made up of labour. We suggest that it would be a body made up of groups that have clearly been on the side of wide-open Sunday shopping and clearly on the side of no to wide-open Sunday shopping. Everything that I have seen so far in the last week and a half during which I have been following this committee only points directly to that and the importance.
I have had some experience in that area in the city of Toronto when it dealt with task force hearings. We did have a group of stakeholders meet to discuss that very issue, the tourism criteria. Unfortunately, we only had one meeting that lasted an afternoon. At that meeting we were able to put a lot of the crap out of the way and actually deal with what is tourism. Had we had an opportunity to have more meetings along that line, I think we could have said to you as the government, "This is what tourism is in the province."
I commend the government for looking at trying to develop criteria after consultation with a number of the stakeholders, but I do not think any of the governments in the past, when they have tried to define what is tourism and what is a tourist, have ever asked the stakeholders, "You guys sit down and work it out together." We have done it under other pieces of labour legislation, for example, the Workers' Compensation Board amendments and Occupational Health and Safety Act amendments, where we have had the stakeholders sit down and work out what the regulations would be.
In addition to that, under this specific recommendation in terms of establishing a tighter tourism exemption privilege, we also require a right for any group to appeal to another level of government other than that which made the decision in terms of the tourism criteria. We are suggesting that something similar to an Ontario Municipal Board, or a tourism exemption board, be set up. You may want to look at the OMB process in that that process is already in place, whereas the tourism exemption board may be a little more costly in terms of developing and those sorts of things.
Mr Sorbara: More jobs in government.
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, please. Will the witness continue?
Ms MacKay: Recommendation 3 is to introduce stricter controls on drugstore openings. A lot of my work in the last couple of years on this issue has been around the issue of drugstore opening. An example just recently, I believe within the last two weeks: The regional municipality of Niagara has granted an exemption, albeit I know that any bylaws passed after June 4 are going to be rescinded, but they have passed for Herbie's Drug Warehouse to open at 10,000 square feet.
When this fellow Herb got up and made his presentation in the regional municipality of Niagara, he said, "I started out 40 years ago in a 900-square-foot drugstore." Well, excuse me, if you are really a drugstore, then what has changed that the health care needs have really altered that much that you now need to expand beyond even what the current law sets at 7,500 to 10,000?
We have seen -- and I actually do not have it with me; I think it is down in my room -- newspaper articles which show what drugstores are actually selling today. If you look at the RBHA and the intent of what they are supposed to sell, the word "sundries" has been widely interpreted to mean anything and everything, including bicycles, barbecues, whatever is the will of the pharmacist.
Our recommendation is that they actually be brought more in a legitimate line and brought into a position that up to 2,400 square feet would be allowed to open. We have done a lot of research on this area and we would be hard pressed to find what community, or any community within this province that has a drugstore now, would not have a drugstore or pharmacist that could open on a Sunday to meet the health care needs of the public on a Sunday with 2,400 square feet or less.
Recommendation 4 is to provide adequate enforcement of the legislation. We know what led up to the period of wide-open Sunday shopping was, for example, the Loblaws supermarkets of the world and the food retailers taking on the law and announcing outright that they were going to break the law and open. They did that, and they did that out of not seeing legitimate enforcement in the past government on the RBHA.
The Committee for Fair Shopping, just for your information, will be making a presentation on August 29. You may want to ask them a question similar to this: If you go back to the original intent of why the Committee for Fair Shopping was originally struck -- just a bit of history -- they used to be part of our coalition opposing Sunday store openings up until approximately November 1989, when they formed the Committee for Fair Shopping, because there was no legitimate enforcement of the law taking place. They felt that they had to bring the issue back into the light of the public eye and force the government to deal with the issue of enforcement whatever way they could, so they saw that what they had to do was to form a group of retailers called the Committee for Fair Shopping to enforce the legislation. The way they forced the enforcement of the legislation was to illegally open, and they got away with it in many cases, as many have in the past and continue to.
I think there is a legitimate effort in terms of trying to find a way to enforce this very difficult piece of legislation by this government. What we are suggesting as a way that it can be enforced is, first off, we have addressed that fines obviously, in our opinion, need to be increased. We heard in North Bay how Powassan, a retailer, had been fined 33 times, paid a fine of $500 for one fine, and the other 32 charges were dropped. That is merely a licence to operate. There is no way that is legitimate enforcement. If you are I or any one of us had 33 speeding tickets, we would not pay one fine; we would pay all 33.
If we are going to look at legitimate enforcement, then I think you have to look at our recommendations, one of our recommendations being that the stakeholders in this have the right to impose injunctions on businesses that are illegally opening on Sunday. It has worked quite well, I am told, in the province of Quebec and it is something that I think this province should seriously look at. Then if you have, for example, an A&P opening down the street from Loblaws, Loblaws can go in and impose an injunction on them for violating the law.
In addition -- it is not listed in my brief -- we do go along with the other recommendation that there be some kind of sticker system put in place. I mean, for law enforcement agencies out there, I would not want to be a member of the police department trying to enforce this law as it now stands. I think a sticker system, similar to liquor licences or whatever, some sort of system like that, if that was put in place, explaining under what sections of the act the business is given an exemption, would be much easier for them to cope with. We have heard that in different communities from the police department in the area in terms of enforcement. However, we could, through the injunction process, assist in that a great deal.
Recommendation 5 is to redefine retail businesses. Again, we go into the Price Club issue or the club warehouses, and I have already explained that.
In conclusion, in opposing wide-open Sunday shopping, the goal of the UFCW has always been to protect the rights of working people and to preserve a common pause day for family activities. The amendments proposed by the NDP government show a commitment to a common pause day principle, but fail to provide the limitations necessary to ensure the goal is met.
The mandate of the standing committee on Bill 115 was to solicit views -- let's not forget that -- on the proposed amendments to the Retail Business Holidays Act. It was not to hear detailed arguments in support of Sunday shopping or opposed to Sunday shopping. That issue was settled when the government voiced its commitment to "provide a common pause day to help strengthen family and community life." The only issue left to be determined is what business should be exempted from the general Sunday closing laws.
We believe the recommendations in this and other briefs presented by the UFCW would help to firmly establish Sunday and holidays as common pause days. They would act to provide a fair and viable alternative to wide-open Sunday shopping. They would also act to protect the rights of working people and give retailers the ability to operate on an equal basis.
I just have a couple of additional comments that I did want to add that we have not been addressing in our presentations.
There have been questions asked in regard to whether the lower-tier or the upper-tier municipality should deal with the issue of exemptions, and specifically tourism exemptions. Our position is -- and I just want it for the record -- that it should definitely be the upper tier, the reasons being similar to those that have already been expressed. There is the wider geographical area that it would service, for a more unilateral decision, looking at the exemptions and having the widest possible reading of it in terms of their interpretation of whatever criteria are set. I think that a lot of this is going to be left to the interpretation of communities, and we think the wider municipality or the upper tier should be the one that is looked at.
I would like to also address for a moment the issue of choice. It has been something that is quite popular these days, as I have been hearing in the hearings I have been at, anyway, and there are a number of groups supporting that position. I think we would all like the issue of choice, but the reality is that if retail businesses started to open on Sunday, you would simply shift the shopper's habits over to shopping on Sunday, away from the other six days of the week. In doing that, businesses are going to be hard pressed to ever close, if they chose to close, because there would be no choice any more.
We have already heard all the arguments as well in terms of the business's local competitor down the street. I think an example of that was in the period of wide-open Sunday shopping that we did have, in terms of who had a choice to stay open or stay closed. Sears Canada, for example, managed to stay closed for the first couple of weeks of wide-open Sunday shopping and was forced competitively to open after that, as were many, many small businesses, including the hardware stores, including the family clothing stores and the shoe stores. Many, many of them were forced to open. So there is no issue of choice when you call it choice.
In addition to that, from a retail worker's perspective, we were told that Loblaws -- especially coming near the end, before the decision -- was talking of closing the store for a half day on Wednesday or closing the store altogether on Monday, because their business had shifted, not from during the week, but from Saturday business. The business had dropped on Saturday and gone to Sunday.
In terms of choice, all you are doing is shifting the consumer's habits. There has been no outcry from consumers or shoppers that they want to shop on Sunday. I live in downtown Toronto, and I have talked with tourists who have found the fact that the city is virtually closed down on Sunday to be quite an anomaly. The people are quite surprised to see it and actually impressed to see that a city, especially one the size of Toronto, can actually take a day from the corporate agenda and leave it to the people. So there have been differing viewpoints, but I think we have to look at a day when the dollar does not rule almighty.
In terms of the Kingston hearings, unfortunately we were unable to attend those hearings. We are not, as stakeholders, notified, although there is a notice publicized in the local papers.
Mr Sorbara: These are the Kingston hearings?
Ms MacKay: No, sorry, the city of Kingston, when they held the hearings regarding the issue for Kingston. Somebody who was there had told me they understood that there were eight representations that said no to wide-open Sunday shopping, and no, they did not want the business improvement area to be open, and four that said yes. Yet the city council voted anyway to open.
I also would suggest that the new-found money may be because the malls, etc, outside the downtown business improvement area are closed, and that the new-found money may not be from tourists. They may want to do a study on that to find out just where exactly it is.
I also have people here from the Kingston area who would like to address the issue of students, if someone would like to question them on that.
I have been sitting here making notes this morning. Just as a final point, I would suggest that the trouble with business and with the tourism business these days -- and I recognize that everybody is hard hit with the recession -- but a part of it, and the final straw that broke the camel's back, was actually the GST. Yes, it sent people flurrying south of the border to shop, but it also stopped people, workers, from being able to shop for non-necessary items.
That is it. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Ms MacKay. Before we start, I would like to remind committee members that our witnesses should be treated with respect. Many people have spent a great deal of time and preparation for their presentations and go out of their way to a great degree. While we have some witnesses, such as Ms MacKay, who are both articulate and quite resilient and quite capable of bantering with the best, I am sure, I think that for many people to have interruptions in the midst of their presentation can quite put them off. I would ask committee members to reserve their comments until the question time at the end of the presentation.
We are limited in terms of time: three minutes per caucus. Mr Sorbara.
Mr Sorbara: Ms MacKay, I am delighted to hear your presentation. I have enjoyed your company during the course of these hearings, and I regret that you are not going to be with us for the rest of them. I also regret the intervention of the Chairman, but that is another story. And I regret that we could not have an hour together with you, because certainly the United Food --
Ms MacKay: I am open. If you have an hour, I would be happy.
Mr Sorbara: I think some of us have matters to attend to, but if you could come back this afternoon, we could expand the debate.
Ms MacKay: I will be here.
Mr Sorbara: Certainly the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union has been one of the real standard-bearers in this debate, and your presence throughout these hearings is an indication of that. Obviously it costs the workers money to have you here, and they have made a choice that you should be here, and I understand that a counterpart is going to be here as well.
Ms MacKay: There are WCB appeals, etc, for me to be here as well. It is not just financial.
Mr Sorbara: I think if we had an hour we could really engage in some interesting debate. We do not have that. I am restricted to about three minutes, so I am going to make some comments on your presentation.
With the indulgence of the Chair, the first is to object, frankly, rather strongly to the one part of your brief that I found offensive. It is the conclusion, where you try to tell us what our responsibility is as a committee. You say, "That issue" -- the issue of Sunday shopping or not Sunday shopping -- "was settled when the government voiced its commitment to `provide for a common pause day to help strengthen the family and community life.'"
This body here is not the government. As parliamentarians, we are really free, if we did not feel a constraint by our political parties, to delve. In a free and democratic society, the issue is not settled until we as legislators in a free and democratic Parliament vote on third reading and the bill is given royal assent. The way in which Ontario's democracy is organized means the issue is not settled when a government makes a statement. That represents the government's intention. The issue is settled when a Parliament of freely elected representatives votes on a bill. Frankly, the trend in modern democracies is to try to give more freedom to parliamentarians to disagree with statements that governments make. That being said, and I wanted to put that on the record --
Ms MacKay: Can I respond to that?
Mr Sorbara: I am very limited. Actually, the committee is very limited, and we know why that is.
Ms MacKay: So then I should be asked a question, instead of you just making comments.
Mr Sorbara: No, because I have the freedom to make a comment and --
Mr Carr: Can you two argue at night? You are both going back and forth. He started it and now you are doing the same darn thing that you criticized him for. Let's get on with it.
Mr Sorbara: I would, but now I have about 30 seconds.
I want to tell you that I think your view on a strict definition of tourism is consistent with your view that most people should not have to work on Sunday. My own research, and my research while I was Minister of Labour, indicated that there is a very, very small group of stores which would qualify as having a market that is exclusively or predominantly tourist. I think that if you had that definition of tourism, most people would not have to work.
I think the great inconsistency in the government's position -- and I would like to hear your response to this -- is that if you really believed in a common pause day and a statement that most people should not have to work, what you would do --
The Chair: Ms MacKay has not got time to respond.
Mr Sorbara: That is up to you, Mr Chairman -- what you would do is expand the right of workers, not just retail workers, to refuse work on Sunday. I would like to hear your comments on that. Why are you not advocating the incorporation in the Employment Standards Act of auto workers and miners and professionals and hourly employed people to have that right, and then we would really get to common pause day?
Ms MacKay: Do I have time to respond?
The Chair: No.
Mr Carr: I will give you some of my time.
The Chair: Ms MacKay, thank you.
Ms MacKay: Sorry, are you asking me a question that is separate from that?
Mr Carr: No, you can go and answer his statement, or whatever it was.
Ms MacKay: Thank you. In terms of the common pause day legislation, if you look at all the briefs, and if you actually sit and listen to all the presentations we have been making, we have not been addressing the Employment Standards Act amendments. Quite truthfully, we do not believe you can write into a piece of legislation the right not to work on a Sunday, to have a common pause day. The only way we can see that you can enshrine a common pause day is to actually not have the businesses open.
We do recognize that some businesses need to open. In terms of the Employment Standards Act, the best we can do is hope that some businesses that were thinking of violating the law and forcing their workers to work will at least abide by that law, that the worker does have rights that would be written in the Employment Standards Act. But we have not been addressing it --
Mr Sorbara: What about closing retail businesses?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Sorbara.
Ms MacKay: The Employment Standards Act amendments overall -- we should be looking at that in that.
Mr Carr: As you know, having been around and seen some of the presentations, there is a significant portion in this province that will be open because of the tourist exemptions, and they have decided. So there will be Sunday shopping in this province; it is just a matter of how many municipalities. The common pause --
Ms MacKay: We fully recognize that.
Mr Carr: One of the concerns, of course, as you know, is tourism. I think in one of the presentations from your group yesterday they said people do not go into our stores and buy a head of lettuce. Some of the motel and other people are saying, when it comes to food workers, that people may come here to shop for retail goods, whether they be sweaters or trinkets or whatever, but they do not come for food.
I was wondering what your thoughts would be, because we are going to have it and your workers are going to have to work. Would you rather take another angle and maybe try to exempt food stores as being non-tourist-related? I wonder if you see that happening, rather than fighting to have everybody closed, including the retail sector, which is not going to happen, we have heard. Why not take the stand of saying, "They can open, but our workers will be protected because the stores in the food industry, which would not be affected by tourism, will be shut"?
That will be twofold, because what will happen -- when we spoke with the chaps from the North Bay United Food and Commercial Workers, I guess it was, they said they have enough people working now but that they are on double time, I think it was. What they are concerned about is if everybody opens up they are going to lose that time and a half. I was wondering if you see working towards trying to get just your workers in the food industry to remain closed rather than trying to see everybody close, if you follow my drift.
Ms MacKay: No, we do not represent just people in the food industry, although a majority of our members are in the food industry, retail food.
Mr Carr: Predominantly food, right?
Ms MacKay: Yes. However, yesterday there was a worker from a men's clothing store from Ottawa who was sitting there with the UFCW presentation. The majority of people even in the retail food industry are not organized, and those in the balance of the industry as well are not organized. I was disappointed that the Retail, Wholesale and Domestic Workers Union could not attend yesterday, because they do represent more department store workers than we do. Unfortunately the presenter was ill and could not make it. However, there will be future presentations made by RWDSU on the very issue. I would suggest that you may want to address some of your comments to them.
In terms of retail workers, it again depends on the area. Yes, some people will buy groceries because they are camping or whatever. I think what you may want to actually check -- and it would be easier to check at the border crossings, when you have Americans travelling back into the States or other people from other areas of Canada travelling into the States outside of Ontario -- you may want to check and actually see what their purchases were while they were in Ontario. I would be surprised in many ways to think that there were clothing items. I think you will find more handicrafts and souvenirs, simply because the GST -- the pricing system that we have in Canada far outweighs our competitive advantages over many in the US.
Mr Carr: On page 3 you quote Mr North saying that the "legislation strikes a balance in recognizing the need for a common pause day...while acknowledging the impact of tourism in many communities throughout the province." The UFCW not only disagrees, but "strongly disagrees." Is it not the case, really, that because of your ties with the NDP you are trying to be nice, but that you really do not like this legislation?
Ms MacKay: It is not that we do not like the legislation; it is that there are problems with the legislation. There were always problems with the legislation. If you look back, UFCW has been making representations on all the different committee hearings that have taken place over time, including, I think it was, the February 1989 amendments that went in. The legislation is obviously not written as we would write it. Even with these five suggestions that we are making, it still would not be written as we would like it, because yes, the ideal is a common pause day for everybody. However, that is not the reality.
The reality is there are some people who need to shop on Sunday in terms of emergency health care needs, grocery items in the convenience stores, the small corner stores, and legitimate tourist areas where those businesses derive their livelihood from the tourism business. We recognize that. We are not saying close those stores. We never have.
Mr Carr: Good luck.
The Chair: We have Mr Morrow, Mr Fletcher and Mr Lessard. That should be difficult to accomplish in three minutes.
Mr Morrow: Pearl, I want to thank our 40,000-plus brothers and sisters for such a fine presentation. You did a fantastic job.
You raised a point about students, and possibly I should ask -- is it Warren on the end? -- this question. I want you to elaborate a little bit. I understand that Kingston is a university town, there is a college here, and if I am not mistaken, somebody this morning said during the summer there would be lots of part-time jobs created, like at holiday seasons such as Christmas. My understanding is that most students go home on weekends, they go home in the summer, they go home on holidays. Can I ask you to elaborate a little bit on that?
Mr Kennedy: Yes, I would probably be best qualified, because I do the A&P store as one of my service calls. It is right beside Queen's University. That is where just about all of the students shop. The store in the summer and the two weeks at Christmas drops $100,000 in weekly sales. Most of the students do not work in that store. Hardly any of them can find time to get jobs, because Queen's is so highly competitive they have to study day in and day out. They run a 24-hour operation in that store. It is nothing to see the students come in at 4 in the morning to buy something to eat because they have been up all night studying. Most of the staff in that store are not university students.
In comparison, in the store out on Gardiners Road, the newest store they have opened, they had to raise the minimum wage they hired people at because they could not get students to go out there to get jobs because of the transportation costs, etc, that were involved. It is just the opposite; the store goes up in volume in the summer. But it is not a place for the students to work. They all leave town. Even the store manager at Christmastime took vacation because the store sales were so low.
Mr Morrow: Thanks, Warren. I have one more thing for Pearl. I have a brief submitted to the standing committee on finance and economic affairs on cross-border shopping on April 18, 1991. There is something I want to read and then I want to ask you to comment on it, if you do not mind.
"The UFCW knows that between June and November 1990" -- when we had wide-open Sunday shopping -- "202 full-time jobs disappeared at A&P stores in Ontario. At Loblaws, the total number of hours worked decreased by 3.14% in the period June to December 1990. In both cases, these losses occurred in spite of the brief advent of Sunday shopping."
Can you basically explain to the fine people up here about the actual job losses?
Ms MacKay: Yes, I can respond directly in terms of Loblaws, because that is where we represent the members. To actually come up with those statistics for Loblaws, just for your information, the 3.14%, we have a stack of schedules in the office now like this. We had a union rep go around to the stores and collect all the work schedules and actually do the statistical information in terms of what hours were lost. What it came down to is the overall week. During the period of wide-open Sunday shopping, it was an average loss of hours of 3.14%.
We are given to understand that the main reason is that there is the double time provision in our collective agreements for workers who work on Sunday. You have heard at previous hearings that where you have 70 or 80 or 100 hours scheduled on Sunday at double time, the managers were told, "Cut your hours during the week," because the bottom line is not man-hours or person-hours; the bottom line is dollars and the cost of wages. So what they did was provide less service and spread it; they actually provided less service to the public.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms MacKay.
Mr Fletcher: Mr Chair, on a point of order --
The Chair: I also have an announcement to make after we are finished dealing with that. Thank you, Ms MacKay.
Mr Fletcher: On my point of order, I am upset with the antics of the member, Mr Sorbara, and his lack of respect for the Chair that has been shown on this committee and today especially. I do not think that is called for.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Fletcher. The short announcement I have is in regard to the subcommittee meeting. I think we are dealing with some scheduling issues and we would like to have the subcommittee meet at 1:20 before the hearings this afternoon. We are adjourned until 1:30. Thank you.
The committee recessed at 1210.
The committee resumed at 1333.
DOWNTOWN KINGSTON BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA
The Chair: Our first presenter, is from the Downtown Kingston board of management, Mr Tim Wilkin.
Mr Wilkin: I have with me Mrs Maudsley, a member of the public who has taken an interest in the issue. She will not necessarily be addressing the committee.
The Chair: We have approximately half an hour for your presentation; please divide that between your presentation and some time for members. I am sure many of the committee members will have questions for you, to pursue some of the lines of thought you may bring forward.
Mr Wilkin: First of all, I have filed with the clerk 25 copies of the submission I will be making today. I propose, if I may, to read this submission. It was prepared on the basis that I would be giving it in oral presentation, but it then provides a record for the members of the committee in terms of my comments, if that is satisfactory.
Mr Chairman, members of the committee, my name is Tim Wilkin and I am making this presentation to you in my capacity as chairman of the board of management for the Downtown Kingston business improvement area, known as the BIA. For those members of the committee not familiar with the concept of a BIA, it is a geographic area defined by municipal bylaw that encompasses the downtown business core of the city of Kingston.
The BIA is under the management of a board whose members are elected from representatives of all the businesses within the area and also includes four aldermen.
The mandate of the BIA and its board is to promote Kingston's downtown as a business and shopping area. Its activities are funded by a special tax levied on all businesses in the BIA in addition to their normal commercial taxes.
The Downtown Kingston BIA includes over 700 businesses employing approximately 10,000 people. The annual special levy raises approximately $500,000 which, in addition to a wide range of promotional activities including the music in the park, if any of you have had an opportunity to see it today, is also used to repay the original $1.5-million cost of the major renovations made to the downtown as part of a revitalization program a number of years ago.
In terms of our past experience with Sunday shopping, I can say that our experience has been both recent and intense. After the Court of Appeal decision upholding the present legislation, our board quickly presented a report to city council in which it was recommended that a public meeting be held for the purpose of considering a bylaw that would enable those businesses in downtown Kingston that wish to open on Sundays and holidays to be open.
The reasons for our recommendation were obvious. As both a tourist centre and border community it was absolutely essential that the retail community be given every opportunity to both serve its market and compete. In a community where people purposely come to relax, shop and spend money, being open on Sunday is simply a matter of common sense and good business especially after a very difficult winter throughout the retail sector.
After nearly three months since the original recommendation, and despite some procedural shenanigans by those members of council opposed to Sunday shopping, the bylaw was finally passed three weeks ago. Under its terms, the bylaw permits Sunday and holiday openings in downtown Kingston between May 15 and October 15 for any stores with less than 7,500 square feet and eight employees.
Dealing with the proposed legislation: First of all, the issue of freedom of choice. Let me turn to the proposed amendments to the legislation and begin by saying the position of our board is that there is no need whatsoever for this or any other type of legislation that restricts Sunday shopping. The reason is simple: Sunday shopping is a freedom-of-choice issue. For the store owners, it is the freedom to choose to be open or closed; for the public, it is the freedom to choose to shop or not. Like so many other freedom-of-choice issues, it is a decision better left to the individual than the Legislature.
Attached as appendix to this brief is a copy of the results of a random telephone survey done by the school of business at Queen's University that shows an 80.7% level of support among area residents for the right of businesses to choose when to open. Results like that simply cannot be ignored.
The common pause day principle: After the original Lord's Day (Ontario) Act was struck down as unconstitutional, the concept of a common pause day became the basis for restrictive Sunday shopping legislation. In my submission, the notion of a common pause day in today's society is a hangover from the Ontario of 40 years ago and no longer reflects the current values, habits, or schedules of Ontario's citizens. Whether good or bad, there is no denying that we are now a seven-day-a-week, 24-hour-a-day society where two working parents, single working mothers, extended families and very busy schedules are the norm.
People live to survive from one weekend to the next and yet, with two days available to do the shopping and running around that none of us have either the time or energy to do during the week, the Legislature simply contributes to this time stress by forcing it to be done all on one day. It is not just the GST and lower prices that make Sunday the second busiest day for cross-border shopping, it is also the fact that people cannot get what they want when they want it.
If there is to be a common pause day in our society, why is it only in the retail sector and even then only part of it? For example, our experience in Kingston revealed that in the face of the current legislation we already had over 100 businesses downtown that were entitled to be open, yet in our attempt to expand that to include the 40 other businesses that wanted to be open, we were told by our opponents that to do so would threaten the concept of a common pause day.
I submit to you that if you truly believe in the principle of a common pause day, shut the whole province down, close the hotels, the restaurants, the movie theatres, the convenience stores, the book stores, the small grocery stores, drug stores and factories. But if you are not prepared to do that, do not discriminate against one sector of the economy on the pretence of preserving a common pause day that does not exist.
Employment standards: Another principle upon which restrictive Sunday legislation has been enacted is the alleged necessity to protect the rights of retail workers. But what about the rights of those people who want to work and need to work on Sunday? Given that most new jobs are created by small business, why not start thinking of the retail sector as one large employer's union rather than a sector whose employees need special protection?
Furthermore, if large segments of our economy are already entitled to be open on Sundays, why is it that retail workers need special employment standards legislation better than that which already exists for those retail workers who now work on Sunday? If you must protect existing employees, I urge you to not kill the proverbial mouse with an elephant gun. Carry through the proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act, but do not shut down a whole sector of the economy simply to enforce employment standards.
Assuming the rights of employees can be protected by employment standards, leave the decision on when to open and close with the individual best equipped to make that decision, the business owner. It is the entrepreneur that risks everything he or she has in hope of achieving success through competing in the marketplace. Do not undermine that ability to compete or opportunity to succeed by restricting the days and times when business can best serve its customers.
Proposed regulations: To the extent that the legislation creates a tourism exemption and sets up through its regulations criteria by which a community qualifies, it is hard to imagine how Kingston would not qualify on any one of the six categories. Nevertheless, it is the position of our board that both the concept of a tourist-area-only exemption and the qualifying criteria are unfair. First, if the principle of a common pause day is so important, why does tourism justify an exemption? Reading from the minister's statement accompanying the legislation, it seems the economics of tourism for local communities justifies a different set of rules.
What about non-tourist border communities? Does the impact of cross-border shopping on their local businesses not also justify an exemption? And what about those communities surrounding tourist centres? Does the opportunity for merchants in the tourist area to be open on Sunday not provide an unfair advantage over their competitors in surrounding communities? Maybe not, if one could be assured that the only people shopping were tourists. That, however, will not happen. Local residents with needs on Sunday will use the services of those stores open at the expense of those that cannot be.
Second, it is our submission that the categories for determining qualification for the tourist exemption are so subjective that the results throughout the province will be inconsistent and therefore unfair. In our submission, these categories can mean anything to anyone who wants to interpret them for his or her own purposes. Our own experience with Sunday opening clearly corroborates this. Despite Kingston's dependency on its number one tourist industry, there was a significant faction of council opposed to Sunday shopping for a myriad of political and personal reasons.
Finally, why does the legislation discriminate against those stores greater than 7,500 square feet and employing more than eight employees? Does it suggest tourists do not buy furniture, hardware, groceries, clothes and sundries? Certainly, the ones from Kingston who go to the Salmon Run Mall in Watertown, New York, every Sunday do.
Furthermore, who is to say whether these businesses provide services on holidays primarily to tourists or not? What particular skill or knowledge do members of council possess that entitles them to make these decisions? If an area is to be designated as a tourist area, then let all the stores in that area be open and let the market dictate who stays open and who closes.
In summary, it is our submission that the consequences for small business of such an important issue are simply too great to leave to the patchwork results of individual council decisions.
Recommendations: In conclusion, the following are the recommendations of the board of management for the Downtown Kingston business improvement area.
(a) In recognition that Sunday shopping is a freedom-of-choice issue and that the concept of a common pause day is a myth, scrap the proposed legislation and repeal the existing Retail Business Holidays Act.
(b) In order to address concerns about the rights of retail sector employees, enact the proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act.
Subject to questions, those are my submissions.
Mr Sorbara: I first want to say that the quality of work of the business improvement area certainly is visible and I can attest to that as a tourist, as a visitor and as someone who had an opportunity to walk around the downtown area last night. You are doing a marvellous job.
By the way, that same quality is reflected in this brief. Now and again during public hearings we have the benefit of a presentation that is extremely well-thought-out, articulate and to the point. I just want to suggest to you that this qualifies as one of them, an excellent analysis of the bill, even on matters where you and I perhaps might disagree.
Let me point out one matter I think is very telling. On page 6 you talk about proposed regulation. You argue that in fact Kingston could if it wanted to take complete advantage of the regulation and be able to have, in a sense, unfettered discretion to open under the guidelines being proposed by the government. Nevertheless, you are arguing that it would be unfair to do so. I think probably the unfairness of this legislation and the arbitrary criteria it establishes community by community is the real problem at the heart of our opposition to it.
Second, you say at the bottom of page 5, dealing with the Employment Standards Act, that it is simply foolhardy to imagine that in order to offer a measure of protection to a sector of workers you need to shut down the industry. There again, the debate is really joined because the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and those who support this approach say the only way to protect workers is to shut the industry down. We disagree with that and our disagreements arise periodically.
The one thing you did not address, and I would like you to address in an oral answer, is the question of the cost of compliance with the legislation. Unfettered discretion to open or close based on market conditions, in my view, reduces cost. Compliance with technical provisions in a bill like Bill 115 is going to be very costly business by business and community by community for the retail sector. Do you have any views on that?
Mr Wilkin: First of all, the cost on a business-by-business basis presumably applies to those businesses in excess of 7,500 square feet who have to apply on a case-by-case basis, so I agree there is a cost. I can only reflect on the time our organization has spent and that I personally have spent, separate and apart from my own business, in making presentations like this before council and before public meetings and so forth. It is a very time-consuming exercise. To that extent, it is a costly exercise, but we believe strongly enough that we are prepared to push it. Frankly, we would rather do without.
Mr Sorbara: I expect I have no more time.
Mr Carr: As Greg said, a fine presentation and I, like some of the other members, had a chance to walk around. As a matter of fact, I was going to come back and say we should hold the hearings outside while we are listening to the people out there because it is such a great day.
One of the concerns I have is something you have raised in here, that the decision by municipal councils will be subjective. I think you mentioned your particular circumstances here on page 2, something about procedural shenanigans and so on. I was just wondering if you could fill us in on some of the things that may happen, because the way I see it happening is most of the community -- and I may be naïve in this -- the council will take the will of the people and carry through with it, when it is subjective like that. What do you mean are some of the things that can happen?
Mr Wilkin: We first put forward our recommendation to council in a report within, I would say, two weeks of the Court of Appeal decision, and we made the recommendation under the current legislation to hold the public meeting, just begin the process of soliciting public input on the issue of Sunday shopping before you make some decisions on a specific bylaw.
Without getting into personalities on council, it took something in the order of two months before that public meeting was even convened. That was despite resistance from individual members who, in our opinion, clearly were not even interested in going to the public meeting process for, I presume, fear of hearing the sorts of results of the survey that Queen's school of business did, which was that about 80% of the local citizens think it is a freedom-of-choice issue.
Just through delay and postponement and obfuscation they managed to stretch the thing out. We finally got a public meeting on July 2, so now we had lost the May long weekend and we had lost the July long weekend. We went through the public meeting. It went to council a week later and, unusual for municipal bylaws, it only got two of three readings because there was not a sufficient majority to give it three readings in one meeting.
It was then automatically kicked off for three weeks. At a special meeting called to consider things other than this issue, the opponents brought it back on at 11:30 at night and said, "Let's decide on it," knowing that the mayor and one other member of council who supported Sunday shopping were opposed. Fortunately, one member of council who had previously opposed Sunday shopping did not like their tactics and the tables were turned on them and it was approved two weeks earlier than they thought, thinking they could slide through an opposition to third reading.
So in fact we got Sunday shopping about two and a half weeks ahead of when it looked like we were going to get it, but at that point it was mid-July. Our organization organizes what can now be classed as an international buskers' festival. We have acts from all over North America come here for a five-week busker festival. We had 4,500 people in this park down here in front of city hall on the Sunday afternoon for the finale and the stores were not allowed to be open. You could not walk around town for the people down here and yet the merchants, who have an investment down here, have to sit there with their doors closed.
There were stories in the paper. The merchants could tell how good a day Sunday would have been by the noseprints on their windows coming in Monday and finding the tourists walking around staring in the stores and shaking their heads and saying, "I can't believe the place isn't open." That is despite what can only be considered the premier tourist centre in the province, or I like to think it is, having to put up with that for two and a half months.
If these criteria were objective criteria whereupon you automatically got your bylaw, I would feel a lot happier about it, but it is not. It is a guideline and it is subject to the whims of personal politics and issues.
Mr Mills: Thank you for your presentation. I have read it and I must say that a statement on page 4 has given me some cause for a degree of alarm. You say in there that the notion of a common pause day in today's society is a hangover from Ontario 40 years ago and no longer reflects the current values, habits or schedules of Ontario citizens.
We have been going around the province now and in Toronto for two and a half weeks and we have had some very well-put presentations from religious groups, church groups, ministers, one fellow who was a bishop, I think, and I have difficulty when someone makes such a statement as that. I would remind you that in the last census that was taken in Canada, 87% of the people who live in Ontario said they were Christian. I was just wondering, when you make, in my opinion, such a far-reaching and perhaps outlandish statement to say that we are living in a hangover from the Ontario of 40 years ago, how you came to arrive at that position that we are living in some bygone era.
Mr Wilkin: If this legislation is being motivated by religious issues, then let's say so and we will deal with it under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Mr Mills: It is not. It is not. It is not.
Mr Wilkin: All right. So to the extent that people still go to church or are Christians and presumably have religious convictions, they are certainly entitled to those, but in my submission they do not necessarily reflect what has become a secular society where people do not necessarily go to church, are not necessarily Christians. Frankly, to that extent I think they have a bit of a conflict of interest in opposing Sunday shopping on their particular Sabbath, and I do not think they should reflect the reality of our community.
Mr Mills: In other words, sir, what you are saying is that their opinion really does not count.
Mr Wilkin: No, but I think their opinion has to be kept in context. I do not begrudge people to have their religious convictions; I think it is one of the wonderful features of our society. What I do oppose is their imposing their religious convictions on others who do not share them. That is why we propose it as a freedom-of-choice issue. So if it is truly a Sabbath day for them, do not shop. If it is truly a Sabbath day, do not open. But for those who do not share those convictions, I guess it gets down to minding your own business, and there are others who want to open because it is not a problem from a religious point of view.
Mr Mills: I would just quickly like to take you up on another point that it contributes to this time stress by forcing it to be all done on one day. I was very interested to read in the Globe and Mail today that the Workers' Compensation Board is now considering workplace stress and long-term burnout as an illness or disease that is going to be covered by workers' compensation. I am just saying to you, sir, that workplace burnout and workplace stress is a very valid concern in Ontario today, and I think myself that this brief of yours does not address the workforce at all. I think that it just addresses the commercial aspects of what you can do in Ontario, and I thank you for your brief.
Mr Wilkin: If I may respond to that, Mr Chairman, with respect, sir, I agree wholeheartedly with you, and that is the point of my comments in the middle of page 4: that after a very stressful workweek people now have the added stress of getting all their shopping and running around and tending to the kids at the same time done on Saturday because Sunday is a washout. If we allowed them those two days over which to spread the chores which have to be done, they may not be so exhausted at the end of Saturday that Sunday is a burnout day as well.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Wilkin; a very interesting presentation.
Mr Wilkin: One question, sir. Is there opportunity for members of the public at some point in the day to get on the agenda at the end?
The Chair: What we have run into is a large number of people wanting to appear and so, of course, many of the people whom we have are individuals representing only themselves. But because of the number of people wanting to appear, we have a bit of a waiting list. So I do not think there would be an opportunity. In fact, our clerk has been busy juggling with a cancellation. We have five people on our waiting list, even for today. So I do not think at this point there would be, but certainly if someone was interested he could get in touch with the clerk to see if there is a space.
The Chair: Good afternoon, Mr Enslin. You have approximately a quarter of an hour for your presentation, and if you can it would be good to divide that time between your presentation and some time for the committee members to ask you questions in regard to it. Please proceed when you are ready, sir.
Mr Enslin: My name is George Enslin, the owner of the Emporium, and this is my wife, co-owner of the Emporium, a clothing store three or four blocks from here.
I come before you as a retailer and a store owner and on behalf of 90 owner-managers and 195 employees of area stores who signed my petition against Sunday and holiday shopping. We all entreat you to retain the common pause day in Ontario.
My 37 years in the retail industry have taught me the extreme importance of giving the worker time to be quiet and rest or be with family and friends, time to refresh body, mind and spirit. By so doing, he or she may have a chance to perform for the next five or six days at a reasonably productive level.
Many of our ancestors have wisely told us, "The way the family goes, so goes the nation." We are not merely discussing the convenience and pleasure of a few tourists who browse and possibly spend some money for souvenirs or trinkets. We are deciding on one more tiny change in our social structure that with all the other social pressures just possibly may tip the balance for many men and women, young and old alike, and that they become so exhausted and tired of working that they just give up on life or have a physical and mental breakdown.
Most of us know the stories and times of Charles Dickens and the story of Scrooge. Those are not just fairy tales, ladies and gentlemen, those are real stories, and we as Canadians have been striving most of this century for a normal workweek and good working conditions. We surely do not want to follow the example of shop-till-you-drop syndrome that has affected other countries. All we have to do is look at conclusions and results of society when the almighty dollar means everything and the individual rights mean less and less all the time.
Rather than reading to you, I have left a presentation of all the material I presented to the June 20 presentation, the open forum on Sunday shopping that was held here for the city of Kingston and the regional municipalities. There are just a few points in there I would like to highlight, and hopefully you can read them at your leisure.
A vocal minority -- this was on my June 20 submission -- is attempting to decide that downtown Kingston stores should be open seven days a week. There are a few businessmen, probably quite a few businessmen and businesswomen in this area as well as other parts of Ontario and indeed all of North America, I hear, who are at the brink of financial disaster. Many of them I empathize and sympathize with. I too have been between a rock and a hard place many times during the last year in our business.
I feel very sorry for the philosophy that feels that, well, if we cannot make it in six maybe we can make it in seven. It just does not prove and hold water. For example, we just finished with the civic holiday and I came to work on Tuesday morning after being closed for two days. I happened to see a lady who runs a store just down from me after I opened up as she was walking to work, and I asked her if she was open on Monday, because as you know we in this area, in the downtown business association area, can open now on Sundays and holidays. She said no, and I said, "Some of the merchants are telling me they had a pretty good day on Monday." She said, "Oh, is that right?" I said, "Yes." She asked me how I felt about it. I said: "Donna, I am invigorated and refreshed and glad to come to work this morning. I might have lost a couple of hundred dollars, but I am not going to worry about that. The main thing is that I came here today refreshed." She said to me, "George, you're right."
This is a very important dimension to our life, that we have a time to work and a time to play. We are supposed to be in a modern-day age, and believe me, many massive retailers that are not that concerned about the individual rights put an awful lot of pressure on employees to do what they want. All you have to do is cross swords with your employer on one issue, only once, and they never forget it. I was a manager of Zellers department stores and a Canadian Tire owner-operator here on Rideau Street, and I know the position of power that managers and owners have. If you want something, you get it, and God help that person or persons who decide to cause a little bit of trouble and decide they are not going to work on Sunday. You have a tremendous opportunity as managers and owners if you do not have that sympathy for your employees and some concern for them to be overrun.
I know in fact of a case where a manager of a large retail operation here in Kingston mentioned to me at one of the meetings that he was going to give his employees an extra bonus for working Sundays. I talked to somebody who worked there last Sunday and he had never heard of such a bonus.
To those who maintain that they are losing money by not opening on Sundays, let me tell you that I had more than one business owner tell me that indeed they lost money by being open seven days a week -- that was in the 10-month period that we were allowed to open on Sundays -- and that once they reverted to the six-day pattern, profits increased. Now, that does not make sense, but it is true, because when the stores are all open, especially in certain isolated areas like downtown Kingston, the massive effect of the shopping centres can just totally obliterate the whole downtown area. It can just wipe it right out. If you have ever driven through cities like downtown London and downtown Oshawa, they are white elephants. There is real estate there, beautiful, structurally sound buildings that are empty, and the same would happen to communities like Kingston. I am quite certain of that.
When tourists come, do they come only on Sundays? Surely they too can shop on weekdays. If the tourists shop on Sunday, they will be drawn away from the main tourist attractions, which rely almost solely on tourist revenues for their income. So we will be in competition with the Pump House Steam Museum down the road here, with Old Fort Henry up there on the hill, trying to keep people away from there to see something that is really worth while to go home and talk about, to see the Fort Henry Guard rather than to show them a sweater or shirt that they happened to buy in the Emporium. I mean, that is going to bring their relations back to Kingston, not the sweater they bought in the Emporium, unfortunately.
Our biggest economic problems stem from four interconnecting factors: free trade, the lower cost of American goods, higher Canadian labour costs, and of course, the goods and services tax. Let me ask you, how will the additional expenses involved in an extra opening day help matters? My long history in the retail business has taught me how very necessary it is to refresh mind and body at least one day in seven. While I was in the department stores, this necessity was frequently denied me. Since I have become a Christian, I have discovered that God has instructed his people that they should rest one day in seven. This is wisdom, in my opinion. There is good reason for this.
I am now once again facing the dismal prospect of the seven-day workweek, and believe me, ladies and gentlemen, as one who has been there, it is a most dismal prospect. We in Ontario have traditionally observed Sunday as our common pause day, allowing us in the retail industry to return refreshed to work on Monday. Our ancestors fought hard for this privilege, and now we are thinking of tossing it out. If we lose this common pause day, what other day would be appropriate? Tuesday? Thursday? May I suggest that, once gone, there would be no common day of pause ever again.
A few stores are claiming that they will be forced to go out of business if not allowed to open on Sundays. My claim is that I will be forced to open. May I repeat: My claim is that I and my staff will be forced to open Sunday, against my will and against my better judgement and indeed the wisdom of God, in order to maintain my share of the market. I will probably go out of business first.
The city of Kingston passed a bylaw on July 16, 1991, allowing stores in the downtown improvement area to open if under 7,500 square feet in size and with eight or less employees from May 15 to October 15. The area includes many stores far from the tourist centre. City hall and the waterfront is the main tourist area of this community, in my opinion. Also, the size of store allows for everything outside of a full-scale department store to open. Most stores appealing to tourists are less than one half this size and only require two or three employees to operate. The length of season, May 15 to October 15, only invites stores outside the tourist area to cry "unfair," and they have already cried "unfair." Surely June 15 to September 15 would be a more reasonable time for tourists.
If indeed tourist area stores are allowed to open, and I am not suggesting that they are, but if that should happen, size and length of the season will become key issues. May I suggest that, if tourist areas are given special consideration, they be no larger than 3,500 square feet, or even less than that, and require no more than five employees, and the store be no farther than one third of a mile or one quarter of a mile from the tourist attraction.
May I also emphasize the great need for uniform controlled retail hours in Ontario. This industry must be controlled if we are wanting small business to continue to exist against the competition of large national and international operations.
Gentlemen, I have attached a petition of the 90 store owners or managers and 195 other employees. I did this with the help of my wife in three part-days. I have not got a lot of time to walk around, but I thought this issue was so important and if we do not do something we are going to all of a sudden be faced with situations we cannot live with. I did my very best in three part-days. My wife assisted me, and that is all the people I had in my committee. Most of these people asked me to represent them here today. I thank you and I am open for questions.
The Chair: We unfortunately do not have much time for questions. Perhaps we could have one per caucus.
Mr Sorbara: There are a number of owner-operators who have made submissions to this committee and have been concerned about the practical realities of seven-day shopping on their businesses, and I think probably we have to pay very careful attention to their concerns. Can I just ask what you do in respect to your business when you yourself, with your wife or on your own, are on vacation, or do you ever get to take a vacation? What do you do with the store? Do you close it up, or do you leave it in the hands of a manager or an assistant manager or a clerk, or what do you do when you are on holidays?
Mr Enslin: We have been in operation in this format for six years. The first three years we had to close the store while we went on holidays. Before I had employees I would close one day additional to Sunday a week, Mondays or Wednesdays, to refresh myself. I found that was very necessary for us. Now we have an employee, and when we go on holidays, that person has to run the store, and if we do not have enough volume to afford a part-time person as well as a full-time person, we have to close on one day while we are away for that week.
Mr Carr: Thank you for a wonderful presentation. You have packed in quite a bit of work, I am sure going around getting the petitions did take a considerable time. I thank you for that.
The question I have relates to this particular bill. As I understand it, you would rather see it remain a provincial responsibility and that they not close down, so that you cannot give the municipalities the option of taking that tourism exemption. Is that what you would like to see? I know you want to remain closed, but in order to do that, the best way to do it is to keep it in the hands of the province, you feel?
Mr Enslin: I cannot see how else it could really be done effectively. The local politicians have such tremendous pressure. For example, I believe -- I am not certain about this -- the manager of a Cadillac-Fairview shopping centre in Kingston called the Cataraqui Town Centre -- I am not suggesting there is any conflict of interest or anything, but I think Mr Peter Beeman is a councillor in Kingston township and he is also the general manager of the Cataraqui Town Centre, which is the largest regional shopping centre in this area. I know there is a lot of political pressure brought to bear on local municipalities to make these decisions by people who vote for them and people who pay, contributors to their campaign funds, etc. I feel it puts an unfair stress on them and they have to respond to demands, not just requests but demands, from influential people. So yes, I would definitely think that this should be an entirely provincial matter rather than left to the municipalities.
Mr Lessard: I want to thank you for a lot of hard work and your attempts to try to bring some sanity to the whole debate in this issue. You are someone who has seen this issue from a great many perspectives that we do not usually hear from.
Just before you, we had a representative from the Downtown Kingston business improvement area, and I would take it that you are probably involved in that association as well.
Mr Enslin: I am a member.
Mr Lessard: He said to us most new jobs are created by small business, and I would not disagree with that, and he asked, why put impediments in front of small business people? Why do you not leave the decision to those individuals who have made that investment in their business to make the decision as to whether they open or close? Basically, he was advocating do not just let the downtown open; let everybody open. What do you have to say about his submission?
Mr Enslin: I am quite certain it would wipe out an awful lot of individual businesses like ours. I think we would be left with a lot of national and international chains and conglomerates that can hire a manager and they do not have little stores like mine, two or three people. Our total annual volume might be $250,000. We employ my wife and two other people. If you looked at the amount of taxes we pay, we are quite a contributor. We would be really wiped out, because there are so many areas in the community that are vulnerable to the powerful shopping centres.
Let's face it, when it rains in November and December and it is snowy, people do not come downtown on Sunday. We used to have a good day on Monday in our little store, but when the shopping centres were allowed to open on Sunday, especially in November and December, the time of the year that you work towards and say, "Finally I can make the budget by the end of December," it just did not happen this last year the same way.
It really makes it unfair competition, in my opinion. They talk about a level playing field, and I think it is a level playing field if we all have a common day where we close. Otherwise, we have not got a hope to compete, because most of the stores that are open on Sunday offer white bread at five cents a loaf and things like that to attract people in. Certainly they are going to bring them in. I cannot offer people milk and white bread at five or 10 cents a loaf. I am being a little bit facetious here, maybe it is 25 cents a loaf, but they do loss-leaders to bring people in and they put a full page in the paper too. They say Sundays have been just fantastic: "We can't afford to close Sundays." Let's face it, when there is a dollar to be saved, there always will be a shopper there.
Mr Sorbara: Do you know if that store delivers to Toronto?
Mr Enslin: Absolutely. Personal delivery service.
Mr Sorbara: Then I will take a gross.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Enslin.
The Chair: Mrs Mary Jane Dempster, please come up.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, it says "Leslie Foreman."
The Chair: I was just about to get into that. We had several changes which Pat has given to me in Lisa's absence. Mrs Dempster is substituting for Ms Foreman.
At 2:30, Rev John Craig will be here, and then Dr Charles Seidenspinner at 2:45. Those are changes from the schedule. There is also some question about who our presenter will be at the end of the day, and I believe Lisa is trying to get that confirmed, but there are those three changes for the next three quarters of an hour, if you would make note of those, please.
Mr Sorbara: Just to clarify, Mr Chairman. Are you saying that the shoe retailers of Canada will not be appearing at 2:45?
The Chair: No. Actually, I believe it is a George Assaly -- no, George Affaly. Regardless of the spelling of his name, he still will not be here. I do not know when he cancelled. Lisa could certainly clarify that when she returns.
Mr Poirier: He did cancel?
The Chair: I believe so. When she returns, she could clarify that point.
MARY JANE DEMPSTER
The Chair: Mrs Dempster, please. You have a quarter of an hour. Divide that, if you can, between your presentation and some time for the committee members to ask questions, and please feel free to start when you are comfortable.
Mrs Dempster: I should begin with an apology that I do not have a copy of my brief for each of you. I submitted one copy, but the substitution was made very recently, so I did not have time.
Mr Poirier: We are good listeners.
Mrs Dempster: Good. My name is Mary Jane Dempster. I am a secondary school teacher, wife of a mechanical engineer, mother of four children and a proud citizen of Kingston.
I am quite certain I am not going to say anything you have not already heard, because you have listened to many, many people speak to this issue. Nevertheless, I believe it is my responsibility to use the opportunity to voice my personal views on this matter because this government has vowed to listen to the convictions of the populace as an important part of the decision-making process.
Assuming, therefore, that the standing committee will be carefully considering the submissions that are presented today, I wish to express my appreciation for this hearing.
My response to the proposed legislation, Bill 115, is based on four elements of my personal life: my profession as a teacher, my role as a wife and mother, my residency in Kingston and my convictions as a Christian.
As a secondary school teacher for the past 13 years I, along with many of my colleagues, have become absolutely convinced of a very real problem faced by our students. After-school work, including weekend work, is seriously interfering with their studies and academic achievement.
It is not uncommon for more than 75% of a senior class to be working part time. Some of these students are working 30 to 40 hours per week while also attending school as full-time students. This takes its toll on their grades because it is difficult for them to complete homework, meet assignment deadlines and prepare sufficiently for tests and examinations.
This becomes a vicious circle for many of these kids because they are working to save for post-secondary education, a goal which may never be realized because they are unable to earn the marks necessary to be accepted.
Part-time work also takes its toll in other important areas of a student's life. Many working students are simply unable to participate in valuable extracurricular activities in a school; therefore, they miss important social and recreational activities outside the classroom.
Perhaps even more importantly, the stress of balancing school and a job may well lead to serious burnout in our young people. The pace is simply too much and the frustration level is extremely high. It becomes difficult for these students to give up the material benefits of their jobs once they get into them. All too often they lack the long-term vision to see the dangers of the immediate benefits that part-time work can provide.
I am not advocating that no students work part time. I am saying that the addition of one more day in which they can work part time, or more opportunities are available for them, would be just one more factor that would perhaps contribute to the reduced academic achievement that we are noticing.
All of this relates to Bill 115. I have attended two local meetings concerning this issue and I have heard employers suggesting very strongly that Sunday hours would most likely be filled by student workers. I suggest then that such a proposal will simply compound an already serious problem faced by our young people. For this reason, as an educator I am opposed to more widespread operation of businesses on Sunday and urge our government to consider the negative repercussions of this on our students.
Secondly, as a wife and mother I am opposed to Bill 115. My marital and parental experience has caused me to understand the necessity of time spent together as a family. Relationships can only be built as family members interact with one another.
This leads me to see the proposed legislation as a paradox. In an age where family breakdown is rampant, and dysfunctional families become more common, we are considering enacting legislation that will take us one step further down the road of fragmented family time.
Rather than have one day set aside wherein families can devote themselves to one another and enjoy family activities if they should choose to do so, we are contemplating opening stores for yet another day. This, of course, means that the government would be supporting the increased possibility for families to lose a day traditionally conducive to family togetherness.
The option to refuse to work on Sunday, according to the Employment Standards Act, does not mean that all workers will exercise that choice wisely. It is very likely that many will buy into the materialistic values for which our society is noted, values of lesser worth than the important family values of which we all too often make a sacrifice.
I urge our government to adopt a position to uphold family solidarity, which is obviously not guaranteed by Sunday closures but is at least a sign of support for it.
Third, my residence in Kingston causes me to reject the concept of Sunday shopping. As we all know, Kingston is a scenic, historical city. Its geographical location is unmatched and the recreational opportunities afforded by that are many. It has therefore major appeal for tourists. I find it impossible to believe that tourists will not come to enjoy the outstanding features of this city simply because the stores are closed on Sundays.
I am convinced that people do not come here to shop. That notoriety is enjoyed by other places not so far from here, such as Toronto, Montreal and of course the US border cities. I am certain that those who choose to come to Kingston will still come here to enjoy the real attractions of the city even when stores remain closed on Sunday.
In fact, it seems more logical to have our downtown stores remain open later on Friday night if they choose, or even to remain open on Saturday evening when tourists may not be able to enjoy recreational and sightseeing activities, rather than have establishments open on Sunday.
At a recent local meeting a representative of the Downtown Kingston business improvement area stated that tourism was healthy and strong this year even when the stores were not allowed to be open on Sunday. Shopping is not the appeal of Kingston, the reason why people travel here. Speaking as a resident of Kingston, I enjoy the distinctiveness of Sunday in our city. It is pleasant for those of us who live and work here to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of our downtown waterfront area on Sunday when there is little commercial activity.
The difference in the pace of a week which is obvious on Sunday will no longer exist, and I believe that will be a real loss to the residents of this community. Tourists will still visit our beautiful city, and those of us who have chosen to make Kingston our home will continue to enjoy the relaxed pace of that day, if the government supports our plea to legislate against Sunday openings.
Many Canadians today, including several prominent and vocal individuals such as renowned author Margaret Atwood, are very concerned about the Americanization of Canada and even further the victimization of Canada by our American neighbours. Many fear the loss of our Canadian identity as expressed in many large and small aspects of daily life in our country.
In the light of this fear I find it strange that we are about to eliminate one important distinction between our culture and that of our American friends. Sunday shopping has been an American way of life for many years while we have enjoyed the distinctiveness of no widespread shopping on Sundays. Small though this may be, it is still a current difference between the two societies that will cease to exist should Sunday shopping be legalized.
Last, but to me of most significance, I cannot support Sunday shopping on the basis of my personal Christian convictions. I state these last, not because they are least important, but because I recognize that in our society there is little regard for these principles, and that this argument may bear little weight for many people. These principles are, however, very important to me and so I wish to conclude with them.
God established the principle of the common pause day. He told us that man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath, the day of rest, was made for man. It was good for us physically, emotionally and spiritually to have a day set apart from all others to do those things which practical day-to-day life does not allow, including collective worship.
It seems that the decision to overlook this divinely sanctioned value of a common pause day is fulfilment of a significant statement of William Penn's in a bygone day when he said, "Time is what we want most but what alas we use worst." God gave us a much-needed day to rejuvenate and enjoy fellowship with one another and with Him. It is ironic that this principle of rest for which our predecessors fought in establishing five- and six-day work weeks, modern society now rejects, and clamours for a seven-day work week contrary to God's best plan for wise use of time and life.
I thank you for listening to my views on Bill 115. I trust that you as our government representatives will carefully weigh the arguments and legislate against the opening of stores on Sundays and holidays. Thank you for the time you have already spent considering this issue and the time you will continue to spend. I am not sure I can answer your questions but I would gladly try.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Dempster. We have time for only one question per caucus.
Mr Sorbara: I want to say to the presenter that this was an extremely good brief, articulate and well-thought-out. Although I do not agree with all the positions in it I think you make your case very well.
You said at the beginning that you assume we have heard all these arguments before. There is one argument contained in your brief that we have not heard before. I think it is, for me personally, the most important part of your argument, and that is the developing problem of child labour in the province of Ontario. This is an extremely serious problem. We call it students working but it is child labour. Sometimes it is 13-year-olds and 14-year-olds holding jobs that involve them in the workplace from 35 hours to 50 hours a week.
My own view is that you do not deal with that by closing down a part of an industry on a Sunday. You and I would differ on that; but let me tell you, if the new government would do something important for our students they could bring in rules prohibiting employers from employing any student who, by virtue of that employment, would be working for more than, say, 15 hours per week.
It is extremely important. It is havoc for teachers, it is havoc in our schools. Students are tired, they are not working on their studies. They are out to make big money and they are doing it when they are 15 years old and 16 years old, and it is a national disgrace. Now that I have got that off my chest, let me ask you to pursue it through your organizations and through your schools.
What do you say to the working mother who says: "I have two days off on the weekend. My kids do, my husband does. My kids are in school and we are both working five days a week. If the stores are open on Sunday, I have greater flexibility to be with my children on Saturday afternoon at their hockey games and to spend some time with them, because I can fit in the inevitable two hours of shopping that I have to do, and it is more likely that I will do it with them"? Why can we not accommodate that working mother -- perhaps even a Christian working mother as well -- by giving her greater flexibility to organize her weekends with her family?
Mrs Dempster: I do not see it as a necessity because, as a working mother, I am in that category and I can fit my shopping in six days a week. It is like the person who runs into the grocery store -- when it closes at 10 -- at quarter to 10 and starts shopping, filling up the cart. If you spread it out, people may choose to do that; they will spread it out. But to go to the hockey games with the kids on Saturday -- unfortunately half the games are now on Sundays -- that does not really seem to matter all that much. But I think we work with the number of hours we have. If the stores are closed, you work around it. If they are open you may choose to do that but I do not think it is a necessity that they have to be open on Sunday in order to accommodate your shopping needs.
Mr Jordan: Thank you for your presentation. The question comes to my mind why you feel this legislation is going to legislate you and your family into a different mode of living. This is only freedom of choice for the businesses that want to open. No business is forced to open.
Mrs Dempster: I recognize that it will not legislate my own family into any different lifestyle, because we will choose not to shop on Sunday. But as I mentioned, there will be those families who may not perhaps have the financial freedom to exercise that choice not to work if they are offered those few extra hours; they may buy into that. In many cases we sacrifice what is of greater value for that which is of lesser value. Not all people will have the family as a focus, unfortunately.
I think, when we see what is happening to families, that the government can try to promote families rather than these subtle influences that will destroy the family, and I think it is worth looking into.
Mr Jordan: In some instances the actual shopping can be a family outing.
Mrs Dempster: It probably could be a family outing, but I know, with my own four children, it is not the most positive family thing we can do, just in terms of logistics of carting kids around and going through stores. They are usually not that interested in that as a family activity.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. It is nice that we finally get someone other than big business, big labour, whatever -- we have people coming in.
I was impressed with your brief and I agree with you that we do have something that is different from what the United States has. We are a different society and I would definitely hate to see our society go the way that it has in the United States. This is not to say that Sunday shopping is the factor that has caused that, though it may contribute in some way.
Your values, the family values -- we have heard throughout Ontario so far, and most of it is coming from the business community, that anyone who has family values or thinks of a common pause day as something that is necessary is out of step. Is that your sense, that being committed to family principles is being out of step with what is needed in our society today?
Mrs Dempster: I believe we have lost the focus in our society today in terms of family values. As we look around us, we cannot help but deny that people are making choices that militate against family. Family, of course, is hard to define. People find it very hard to define even today what a family really is because it is undergoing such a transition and there are so many different forms of family. Nevertheless, I think there are so many things that really do pull us apart as a family rather than pulling together. I see this as just one more step.
As well as teaching, I coach. I see kids on my team where Sunday is the day they spend with family. These are teenage girls. That is the one day of their week. Saturday they might be doing their homework or whatever, but Sundays generally they are out to dinner as a family and doing things as a family. I know many of those kids are struggling to save for university, and the temptation to sacrifice that family time to work to make those extra dollars will be very real for them and many will buy into that.
I see there are a lot of things pulling the family apart. I think it is significant in our society and not a necessarily positive comment at all.
Mr Mills: Mr Chairman, on a point of order: Can we continue without the members of the official opposition here?
The Chair: We have still a quorum, I believe.
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Rev John Craig.
The Chair: Rev Craig, you have about a quarter of an hour for your presentation. Please leave time at the end of your oral presentation for questions from the members. I am sure we will all have a number of questions of interest for you. Please go ahead.
Mr Craig: I have given a written paper with some questions on it just for discussion. This is a community leaders' vote for a common pause day. I must say that when your government came to power I was greatly thrilled to see you stressing a common pause day and seeking to bring some order to this matter. I vote in favour of a common pause day for the family's sake. My perspective today is from the viewpoint of a parent, a guardian and a family member who is called upon to leave his home, his family members and his friends on a present common pause day to go to work because of Sunday shopping.
I come from a family background where the family worked together six days a week on a large farm, many days from daylight to dark. We had few labour-saving devices. Our "running" water was dipped from a well and running as I slopped it hurrying to the house. I have not lived that way all my life, but that is the way I began.
I want to say that today, as far as I can see, we have more labour-saving devices or machines to help, more leisure time and more and longer store hours, and still there is the hue and cry, "I must have Sunday shopping to be able to get all my things bought." I do not believe that. I lived out in the country and we often had to tow the old car to get it to go, and we always got the necessities bought. That is one thing I want to say just as an introduction, so you will know where I come from and who I am.
Here are some grave problems posed by the breakdown and the setting aside of a common pause day on behalf of the family. First, in our fast-paced society there is a very high level of stress placed on the family members, especially those who are in the workforce. I want to stop a minute here because I realize many of you may be city representatives.
I work in a country area that spans some 50 square miles and some of my friends are workers in this city of Kingston in various places of work. It takes them one hour to drive in and one hour to drive home. We wrestle with 12-hour shifts, where a man leaves at daylight in the morning and he gets home after dark at night. Presently, with some of the requirements we have with 12-hour shifts, we have families that are broken apart because father can never go any place with the kids in the morning, he can never have breakfast with them and he never has supper with them. They are in bed asleep when he leaves. The same goes for mother if she is out, or a lady working as a nurse, or a single mother or father.
Those kids especially, and those left home in the family, are without a parent sometimes for seven days on these 12-hour shifts in the different plants and the prisons we have around here. This other matter of opening affairs on Sunday for another family member to leave is going to create a greater amount of stress in the families I work with.
In our communities, throughout the week there are countless numbers of children who daily return to an empty house or an empty apartment. They are known as latchkey children, whose parents may return several hours later. I know and counsel young children who arrive home at 3 or 3:30 in the afternoon and their parents do not get home until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. Presently in one of my youth centres we feed supper to kids. We found out they were so hungry when we brought them in at 7:30 on a Friday night that we had to begin preparing lunches for the children, because they never did have a family sit-down time. I see the common pause day as creating a greater problem in this matter.
In most cases, the parents where we live hold down two full-time jobs -- that is husband and wife, or the parents -- to maintain their home and family. That is not to forget the great and growing number of single-parent families that are seeking to cope and to earn their own way.
Here are a few questions I pose with the folk who have a greater promotion of taking away a common pause day. Where are children and family members left with no consistent common pause day? I mean, there are some in necessary jobs who get their common pause day on a Wednesday or a Tuesday or a Monday when the family is away. I find people I am talking to right now often are a month and a half before they actually get time to sit down with their family at any great length. I ask, what good is a midweek common pause day with parents at home and children gone away to school? Third, what greater problems does Sunday shopping/work bring to the children and youth who are left at home with no nursery/day care, etc, available to the worker who is away?
I want to say another thing about this. I find a lot of people and a lot of businesses are working part-time. They will have them drive way in from out in the country for two or three hours' work on a Sunday afternoon or Saturday afternoon, and it puts great stress not only on the family budget but on the family and finding baby-sitting services, etc. A lot of children are left at home by themselves, fending for themselves, with no one to talk to or spend time with them.
I come to the fourth question: Why should we at this time put more stress on today's overstressed and fragmented families? I am finding a great number of young families that are finding one day every third or fourth week to have time together. In family counselling, in marriage counselling, a lot of work I do, I actually now lay out a calendar and have the people circle a day where they cross each other's paths to spend time together. I suggest that is a major issue and that this matter will propound that.
Should we be seeking to reaffirm a common pause day when all family members may be together? What about quality family-sharing time and its value? It is no secret that we are witnessing a breakdown epidemic within families that will have very far-reaching effects for the future. Therefore, as a family leader, a community leader and worker, I am here asking this special committee to report to our provincial government leaders of Ontario that a common pause day is most important to our families in this day and age.
One final thing: One of the greatest government leaders of the past, several thousand years ago, received a revelation written in stone giving directions that said, "Six days you shall labour and on the seventh you shall rest." I was brought up that way, and because of that I have a family together. Most of my four kids are over the hill, over the 20 mark. They are still going, and I am still going, my family is going, my parents are going and still practising a common pause day. When I do not practise a common pause day because my work often requires me to work harder on the Sabbath than other days, I soon find out about it. I do not like taking my common pause day in the middle of the week. With respect for all of you who have taken your time to come, and with your emphasis on a common pause day, I appreciate the time to make this presentation.
The Chair: Thank you, Rev Craig. I do not think we even have time for questions.
Mr Craig: I wrote that so I would be short enough. I generally take up a collection.
The Chair: I think you will probably find that it is a common phenomenon among politicians and ministers that we are not short on breath.
Mr Sorbara: I wonder whether we have time to have one small question from each caucus, Mr Chairman.
Mr Morrow: Mr Chair, with the witness' indulgence, I am sure we would like to ask one question per caucus if it is really short and brief.
The Chair: If we can make it short and brief. We have had difficulty with the last two witnesses in that regard.
Mr Daigeler: You can be assured I will be brief. Sir, I do appreciate the viewpoint you have put forward and to a fair degree I share it. On the other hand, I am wondering what you and other leaders in the spiritual community are doing to convince your fellow citizens of that particular viewpoint. As a politician, where I have the difficulty is when all morning and this afternoon we have had various groups come before us arguing very strongly that the common pause day is outmoded and that the sign of progress is to open on Sunday. It is very difficult for us as politicians to enforce this. What are you doing to get your viewpoint accepted by your own community?
Mr Craig: Actually, I have workers in one mall especially that was the first to open its doors. The workers -- I think about 90% of that mall -- did not want to be open and neither did the owners want to be open. They were forced to be open until you fellows brought some direction. They brought ballots and we actually had people vote to express and dialogue where they were at. At any given time, we had more than 90% from among our people who agreed that we need to reaffirm our family and a common pause day. I have been open with people. I believe in democracy.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for your fine presentation. I know you are opposed to Sunday shopping, but specifically on this bill, a lot of witnesses said that with the municipal option there will be Sunday shopping. Would you like to see the responsibility remain with the provincial government? And how would you like to see them proceed? Just scrap this bill? What direction would you like to see? What is the best possible way to maintain the common pause day?
Mr Craig: I think the provincial government ought to maintain the responsibility for this bill. I do not like to see the hodgepodge approach to it that everybody does his own thing. Third, in answer to what you have said, there may be certain localities where certain things have to happen. For instance here, with the prisons and the hospitals, people have to work seven days a week and it is a problem to our families in this area. But I think there should be a final decision made by the provincial government, yourselves, in the matter, and it should be on the basis of what you are hearing today from different people in the community and so on. I do not think we need across-the-board Sunday shopping and I think that has been proven since you fellows sought to give some direction to that. For summer tourists or whatever, maybe we need a little more shopping for those who are visiting us, but I think it should be limited and on a temporary, special-event situation, and then I think we should go back to some normalcy.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation, sir. As I was saying earlier, we have heard a lot of presentations from the business community. Is it not the job of government to govern for all the people? When the business community is asking us and telling us that they need to be open on Sunday, is it not our job to listen and perhaps act in that way?
Mr Craig: It may be possible, but I think that there is more than the business community involved. If they had 60 hours a week now or more, most of them, to sell their products, what has been happening here, from talking to many friends, is that you might be open Sunday -- and it has not been a success through here, opening on Sunday -- but even if you do sell your stuff one Sunday to somebody, guess what? They only buy so many groceries, they buy so many clothes and whatever, and Monday you can sit around with all your staff. Most of my friends who run businesses, that were caught that they had to open Sunday, lost money because they had to pay extra employees and pay the hydro. I think that if people are honest, it is probably some big tycoon land owner who is leasing a huge complex who wants it open. I do not think most of the businesses want it open if they are being honest.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, if I might, just as our witness is leaving, raise a very minor point of order. I understand that just before Mr Craig made his presentation the parliamentary assistant to the Solicitor General took a little bit of a shot at us, pointing out that there were no Liberals in the room. Each of us were taking, inadvertently, a pause together. When you are listening to these hearings from about 9 until 6, now and again you have to sneak out of the room for a pause that you, sir, will understand. Just to make the point that it was not out of disrespect to the position that you are taking in your presentation, to the members of the Kingston public, and certainly not to the committee. I, for one, regret that Mr Mills wanted to bring that up at that time.
Mr Craig: You are forgiven, brother.
Mr Sorbara: No more cheap shots okay, Gordy?
Mr Mills: It is called politics. You never see me leave here from the time I come to the time I leave.
The Chair: We would now like to hear from Dr Charles Seidenspinner.
Mr Seidenspinner: It is good to be with you. I come both as an individual and as a family person. I come as pastor of a church, and also have the privilege of sharing the office of chairman of the Kingston Ministerial Association, where we have some 120 Roman Catholic and Protestant churches.
I recall some 20 years ago, up in Ottawa, presenting a brief before the royal commission on what was called the Lord's Day Act at that time. Now we have come 20 and more years beyond, and we are putting ditto marks under the particular hearings that were conducted at that time across the province. I think it is important that we have them, and that we look away, and look at this situation. I do not have a prepared brief for you. I was away the last 10 days on a speaking tour and came back and found the hearings were here today. I appreciate the privilege of being with you to share just some basic thoughts.
I think we have to look at what has been chipping away at things that have made our nation very strong. I simply reiterate what has been said by the last two presentations at least, that basic to our society is the stability of the family. There are many forces at work, not simply the issue before us here, many forces at work seeking to break it down: ideological conflicts, the child increasingly, so far as the court is concerned perhaps, coming to be regarded as a ward of the state rather than the responsibility of the family and the authority of the family. We need to look, and we need to examine. We are a multicultural situation. We cannot simply quote something that may be very fine and dear and precious to some of us, so far as a commandment about a Sabbath day is concerned. We look and say in our multicultural society, what about the family, its place, its way of protection? What about forces that want to chip away at it? Whether I am from the far east, from China, whether I am of Jewish extraction, of Christian background, in all of those cultures the stability and the security and the transmission of culture has come basically within the family circle, that family circle that was homogeneous and provided a cohesive force and a place of security.
Now I look at what is happening in our culture today and I raise the question, with you men and women, of values. I think really the issue is much deeper than simply the superficial bottom line of dollars and cents. I think it is one of values, and I look at you folk who have been elected to responsibility and I ask, are you simply to reflect what you feel this segment or that segment of society wants, or in a representative government have you been elected to be architectonic in character, that is, to say, "These are values and we are going to find the proper way in order to protect those values for our society"?
I think Canada and Ontario are hungry for -- I was going to use a stronger word -- desperately in need of leadership at the legislative level where men and women will be willing to look squarely and say, "Yes, these are things about which we have conviction," regardless of pressures, maybe regardless even of the next election. While you are in office, you will make those votes and make those decisions that you feel will protect the values that have made Canada the nation it is and can continue to be if we protect those values. In that, and very basic in it, and at the heart of it, in my thinking, is the family. In connection with values, you have to ask, what is expendable? Is the family expendable? Are these things expendable -- time together, all of that -- in order to achieve a few more dollars at the end of the ledger? What are our goals in life? We have to ask that.
It would be superfluous to go over what has been reiterated in the last couple of presentations, and certainly as a matter simply of record, that only so much money is going to be spent. The days on which it is spent, the overhead involved, all the rest -- that is a matter for others to present to you. But I look at the drift in our society today and, speaking on behalf of the churches, on behalf of myself, on behalf of the church that I have the privilege of pastoring, I say we look to you to stop that drift of the breakdown of family.
You look at the values and our heritage, and we look at a common pause day. The old fable that all of us learned maybe back in elementary school days, public school days, of over in the Middle East, the camel that got its head in the tent, and then after the head was in, finally the fore part of the body got in. Finally, the person who lived in the tent was pushed out and the camel was in the tent. I look at what is being done presently so far as Sunday observance, a common pause day is concerned. Sure, we open the stores and families can walk up and down and do window-shopping if they are not buying, and in the materialism and commercialism of our day they are missing some fun they might have as a family. They are missing opportunities. Somebody is having to be absent from his family in order to care for those people as they walk through those shopping centres, someone who, though we may say has choice, finds that he does not have choice when it comes to holding that job over a long period of time, if he will not go and work on Sunday when the boss wants it, when the establishment wants it. And we look at that and we say, "Well, what about it?" and then the two-income families and all that is involved with husband and wife until finally there is not a common day that everyone has.
Coming back to my camel, we open the stores, then the real estate offices will want to be open, then other offices. Maybe we would even open the schools on Sunday, and that can come. There is pressure for that in some of the states south of the border right now, and I hope in Canada we can cut a different line. But here we are face to face with the fact that that is a wedge and then there will be more chipping away and more chipping away, until finally we have lost that which, from my point of view, got established even in the secondary laws of nature.
In the Second World War -- and most of you were born after pablum, so you do not remember the Second World War -- when they began to work machine shops 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they discovered that metal was wearing out. There was a metal fatigue. Our physicists had to go to work on it, because even in nature itself, in the inanimate of physics, there is planted the thought of the necessity of rest -- and it is here. If we can forget the dollars and cents for a moment -- and that is hard to do in a materialistic culture -- and look at the values, we will discover that there is something of much more worth: the rest that would come to the family, the lack of emotional strain, the release of tensions. The person in the workplace and the person in the commercial establishment is going to be infinitely better off in production than they would be if we worked them seven days a week.
I would just plead with you folk to listen carefully and, having listened carefully to different segments of society, then make an evaluation, not simply on the basis of what this pressure group or that pressure group might want, or even of the next election, but make your decisions as representatives who have been elected to make decisions in this type of government and society on the basis of the convictions that you hold and that which you feel will best serve the interests of our society.
Thank you for the time you have allowed.
The Chair: Thank you. One question per caucus again. We are short of time.
Mr Sorbara: Reverend, that was certainly an articulate and eloquent presentation. I do have one question for you, and that is this. The government has articulated a belief in the common pause day. They say they want to bring about a common pause day. In doing that, what they have done is present a piece of legislation which does a little bit of tinkering with the Retail Business Holidays Act. Right now what exists is an unfettered municipal discretion and the government has fettered it a little bit with some tourism criteria, and it has tinkered a little bit with the Employment Standards Act provisions for retail workers. In my own view, if you want to bring about a common pause day, close down significant parts of economic activity and give all workers the right to book off. In your view, does this bill, Bill 115, which tinkers a little bit with the two pieces of legislation, make a significant dent in the objective of bringing about a common pause day in Ontario?
Mr Seidenspinner: Yes, my concern is when you begin to tinker with it and begin to make exceptions, then, I understand, dealing with people -- and I have spent my life dealing with people, institutionally many times -- you have to make further exceptions and further exceptions and finally you arrive again at zero.
Mr Sorbara: With the camel right in the tent.
Mr Seidenspinner: That is correct. There is no reason why it cannot be a complete pause day.
Mr Sorbara: So there is a distinction between their views on a common pause day and what they have done in this bill.
Mr Seidenspinner: That is correct.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for your presentation. In order to achieve the objectives you are looking for, I take it then you also would like to see the responsibility remain with the provincial Legislature. If so, is the best way of doing that to kill this bill entirely, or to come in with a tougher law saying that nobody can open?
Mr Seidenspinner: Let me answer that in an A and a B. Yes, I would feel that this ought to be a provincial matter, for the reason that if it is not and it is allowed to rest with the communities, then you once again arrive at the pressure of competition between those communities. Kingston does one thing, Kingston township something else, Verona something else. Ottawa, an hour's drive away, does something else. No, I would like to see the government have the courage and strength of conviction to make a province-wide ruling on that. That would be my feeling.
Mr Fletcher: I was listening to most of your presentation. I remember before I got this job I had a lot more time and I was the leader of our church youth group. The strange thing was that whenever we had discussions centring on a lot of things -- and a lot of it was not only peer pressure but relationships with the family -- one of the recurring themes that always seemed to come up was, "My parents don't have time for me." That was a common theme going through. If we do not do something, if we do not tinker with this legislation, are we going to get anywhere as far as trying to get a common pause day if we do not start some tinkering somewhere?
Mr Seidenspinner: It depends on what you do by way of tinkering. I know what you are talking about concerning the family. I brought an address last week out in St Louis on preparing leadership for the 21st century. There was a group of people from across Canada and the United States there. In the course of it, I put in a strong plea -- those were church leaders -- for them to re-establish the whole concept of family within their churches, and to train leadership and to train parents to take time. You can legislate, but finally the work has to be done in other groups and in other ways and cultures.
Mr Fletcher: And if we had the support of the opposition parties, perhaps we could do something like that.
Mr Seidenspinner: Yes. I hope that support will be there. I think it will harbinger well for what would lie ahead in our provincial life.
The Chair: I should mention that the answers from the Ministry of Labour to Mr Sorbara's questions of yesterday have been faxed, photocopied and distributed, I believe. The questions Mr Sorbara put yesterday in Ottawa have been faxed to us from Toronto.
KINGSTON AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL
The Chair: Our next presentation is from the Kingston and District Labour Council, Mr Charlie Stock on its behalf. You have been observing our proceedings for a while, I see, so you are aware that you have half an hour and can divide the time as you wish, but many of the members will be interested in posing questions to you. Please proceed when you are ready.
Mr Stock: My name is Charlie Stock. I am president of the Kingston and District Labour Council. On behalf of the Kingston and District Labour Council I would like to welcome you all to Kingston. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity at any time to speak to the government on things of interest to working people. It is of note that the Premier of the province is in Kingston later today to talk to senior citizens at a convention and it is nice to see that the government of the day is interested in people who will be the future retirees of this province and country.
I do not have a brief per se to hand over to you, but I want to go on record on behalf of our labour council, which represents just under 10,000 working people in this area of all sectors, not just retail, as endorsing the brief which was prepared and which you heard this morning from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. I believe it was given by Pearl MacKay.
We, as the executive of the council, have dealt with the Sunday shopping issue for some time, and went on record as being opposed originally to Sunday shopping. After many meetings with our group, with municipal politicians and different leaders and people in the community, we came to the conclusion that the points of interest regarding Sunday shopping on behalf of the working people we represent were covered quite well in the brief presented or put together by the United Food and Commercial Workers.
We took the portions of the brief that were put together, the information that the United Food and Commercial Workers had gathered, to the membership of our labour council and we debated it. It was endorsed by our labour council. Our position was then made known to the city of Kingston, which was at that point gathering information in conjunction with the downtown business community and people in our area, as to what we would like to see or whatever. We went on record as endorsing the UFCW position. Since that time, it is my understanding that the Ontario Federation of Labour went on record supporting the points in the UFCW brief.
As working people, we think it is imperative that we have a common pause day. A lot of workers whom we represent are industrial sector, manufacturing sector, not retail. I know we are only talking retail sector today, but it is our hope that in the future the common pause day would be enshrined for all sectors if possible, through whatever legislation is necessary.
We agree with the UFCW that we would like to see an increase in the minimum fine so that, if there are people who want to open, rather than them taking the money out of the surplus profits they make for the day, it is significant enough to deter that type of activity.
We see enough families in turmoil in our area. It is not all related to Sunday shopping, but it is one more issue that compounds the troubles families are going through right now. Whether I listen to church groups, the Salvation Army, the United Church, the archdiocese or whoever around here, we all seem to have problems with families, trying to get our families' livelihoods taken care of. We look forward to the government of the day doing whatever it can, whatever small measure on the issue they are dealing with today, to help working people have a common pause day, to try to make up for some of the tough times people are going through right now.
If you have any questions I will try my best to answer, or you can refer to the previous brief with Pearl MacKay, or Mr Warren Kennedy here, from the retail sector, as I am not.
I work for Northern Telecom. It is in the manufacturing sector. I do not have -- the people where we work -- a choice of perhaps working on Sunday or not, but at least we can look at a shift schedule and tell you in advance, probably close to a year ahead of time, what days off we are going to have with our families, as opposed to a retail person who gets a schedule on a Thursday that tells him where he is going to be on Sunday or Monday. It is not very far into the future to make plans for your family.
If you have any questions that relate more to the retail sector that you want more knowledge or background on, I would refer you to Warren Kennedy or Pearl to supplement what I am saying here.
Mr Daigeler: I appreciate that you are coming forward on behalf of the district labour council, not just the retail workers and the food and commercial workers. You actually touched in your own final remarks on the point that I wanted to raise with you. I guess there are some major manufacturing or industrial businesses here in the Kingston area where workers have to work on Sunday. Are there others than your own? Are the workers there taking the same approach you do, that even though you may have to work on Sunday, that does not mean other people have to work as well, that they should have that right?
Mr Stock: Yes. It has been dealt with where I work. I would say I represent workers. I am the president of my local union on top of being president of the labour council. My local union represents five different groups of workers, people in heavy industry, making wire and cable at Northern Telecom, office workers at Northern Telecom, workers at Bosal Canada who make exhaust systems, UTDC people who make military vehicles and UTDC that make the rail cars in Millhaven, of which the current government, I understand, has some interest.
The people in these places who have to work shift work realize ahead of time. They are compensated in a very fair fashion as far as getting a pause day or much better notice of time to be with their families. Given a choice, they would much rather have Monday to Friday, with the weekends, but if you shut some of these factories down, you are going to take away people's livelihood for three or four days later, because you have to turn around -- as at Dupont, locally, if you stop the process of making nylon, then you have to turn around and redo the whole place. You have to clean the whole thing out.
At Northern where they make wire and cable, you cannot just arbitrarily shut something down that quick and move it back open, because you turn around and you have hot plastic extruders. It does not make good business sense to have to go through that. It is a tragedy to do that because you are taking other people's livelihoods away, as opposed to somebody wanting a loaf of bread or a quart of milk on a Sunday. It is not necessary to have a large place open to turn around and do that. You can have plenty of small places trying to survive currently to do it that way.
Mr Daigeler: You do not think it would be possible in the retail sector to give the same kind of protection and flexibility in terms of shift work or Sunday work that you enjoy?
Mr Stock: No.
Mr Daigeler: Why would that not be possible?
Mr Stock: It would not be possible because -- I think a previous speaker talked about it -- it may be just somebody who is off in some boardroom somewhere talking about how can we do it to the working people next. How many more part-timers can we put in? How many more young people can we get to give up their time? They should be trying to prepare a future for themselves and what not, and instead they go out there and work part-time for the least amount of money.
That seems to be the trend we see when we look at retail workers and what happens, as what was a failed effort here previously in Kingston township and around the area with some of the large supermalls. It did not create any jobs; it put more of a burden on the young people. For the most part, the people who manage those stores did not want to and they went on record as not wanting to open, but they were told by somebody very much higher up that this is the way it would be. It was not the thing people wanted in this area at all.
Mr Daigeler: I appreciate you are saying that it came from on high. On the other hand, we had this morning people from the business community around here, the business improvement association, the chamber of commerce and retailers. They did not seem to me, at least not here in Kingston -- we did have the larger retailers in Toronto -- but these seem to be all independents and individual employers, and they were very strongly arguing that they want to be open.
Mr Stock: After much debate, it was not an overwhelming majority issue, it was something that some politicians municipally may pay a price for later, come the fall. However, the idea of the downtown business core in some instances wanting to open, the recommendations if you have small places -- the exceptions I do not think go against what the UFCW brief is trying to pursue, and that is to ensure a common pause day, to try to make things better.
The recommendations, I believe, say there has to be no more than four employees and there was a specified area of 2,400 square feet or whatever of business space. For the most part, some of these small places belonging to the downtown independent business or whatever their group is called may have come on very strongly in support of that. But in the bylaw that was passed in this area there are some other stores, like the large chain grocery stores and different things that could all of a sudden say, "Well, if it's okay for them, it's okay for us." Therefore, it is putting other workers in jeopardy and we are totally opposed to that.
Mr Carr: I was reading some of the information we received from the research people that asked the question -- and this is what we received from Ken Morrow on August 9 -- "Of all these things the NDP were going to do, do you agree or disagree?" When the question was moving to prohibit Sunday shopping, it was interesting, they broke it down into union households versus non-union, and it was approximately 50-50, if my math is correct. What do you say to the 50% of union workers who are in favour of Sunday shopping? Obviously, within your membership, you have a tremendous debate on your hands. What do you say to that 50% who want it when you are saying we should not have it?
Mr Kennedy: The majority of the people who do voice the opinion that they are in favour of Sunday shopping, and consequently themselves working, are only doing it because they are being paid double time, not because they want to be there. These people who are getting two and three days because they only work part-time and one of them is at twice the rate of the other days think that is great, but most of those people are also working two or three days somewhere else, just trying to earn a living.
These Sunday shopping hours that have expanded the number of hours that a normal store is open are killing the full-time jobs that would have been available should people be working Monday to Saturday without these Sunday hours included. The shift in the money and the business to Sunday has taken away the voluntariness, because somebody has to work, so you either are forfeiting hours by not working Sunday or you are working Sunday to make ends meet, and that is really what we are against.
Mr Carr: They asked the question, "Who did you vote for in the last election?" too, and of the people who voted for the NDP, it was about 50-50 as well. In other words, 50% of the people said they supported the NDP. As you know, if they asked, "Would you like to work on Sunday?" most people would say no. It was just an open-ended question. The question was, "Should this government move to prohibit Sunday shopping?" and what you got is about a 50-50 split. That is not unlike what we see across the province, union, non-union, NDP. So many in the union ranks are in favour of Sunday shopping. Is your data different? You know your members better than anybody else. Do you think more of them are in favour of Sunday closing?
Mr Kennedy: The last percentages I saw, I believe in March of this year, about 42% of the people were in favour of the Sunday shopping, but about 78% were against Sunday working. The percentages on that election that you just quoted, 50-50, are astounding, because when the Liberals and Conservatives were elected, it was more like 30% of the people would admit that they voted for them.
Mr Sorbara: A little bit of politics makes the day interesting.
Mr Carr: I guess the bias is coming through, although I was up in Muskoka, in the fine area up there, and I think we should have a recount, because we had a town hall meeting and I could not find anybody who voted for them. But putting that all aside, there are NDP supporters and Conservative and Liberal, and it breaks down pretty much the same.
One of the reasons this government proceeded with this legislation is they said it was an election promise. What this would seem to be saying to me is that this was not a big issue in the election. People did not vote for the NDP on the Sunday shopping. I was just wondering if you could comment on that, what your thoughts were or the membership, whether they see this as one of the big issues of a common pause day as opposed to all the other issues that were out there. Is this a big issue?
Mr Kennedy: Yes. As a matter of fact, our executive board, for a good example, had put a motion on the floor at our executive board meeting that we would not pass any money to the NDP until they got this settled. I do not know if the NDP is aware of that.
Mr Carr: I was not. They are not going to give money to the NDP?
Mr Sorbara: I did not hear that.
Mr Kennedy: We are not going to give any more donations until this got settled. That is an indication to you, Mr Carr, how big an issue it would be, and I would sure think the NDP would be listening as well.
Mr Carr: That makes it a big issue.
Mr Kennedy: It is a big issue.
Mr Sorbara: Is that why they are pushing this so hard, because of money?
Mr Fletcher: My question is to Mr Stock. What union do you represent?
Mr Stock: Canadian Auto Workers.
Mr Fletcher: You were saying that you know a lot of employees who have to work Sunday, they are in the industrial sector, and you would like to see a common pause day for every working person. I am not sure if I heard that correctly.
Mr Stock: It would be nice. I know that some labour legislation perhaps is going to be looked at before this government is finished fulfilling its mandate, and if there is something there that could ensure that kind of thing for more working people in this province, we would certainly be in favour of it.
Mr Fletcher: As far as the employment standards part of it, the amendments to the Employment Standards Act, do you have any comments on that? Do you think it goes far enough? Is there anything we can do to make it a little tougher or to enforce it?
Mr Stock: In regard to?
Mr Fletcher: The refusal to work on Sunday. You know what it is like to refuse unsafe work.
Mr Stock: I guess with any legislation, if you look through all the different exceptions, it looks good until you look in the regulations, and then what you think you have in one hand seems to go out the other hand. Maybe rather than going from the front to the back when the government takes a look at this, perhaps you should start at the regulations and then work your way back through what the original intent was for the legislation.
Mr Fletcher: Do you agree with the employment standards amendment to allow workers the right to refuse?
Mr Stock: Yes.
Mr Fletcher: As far as the tourist exemptions are concerned, do you see that creating any problems with workers? If they do have the right to refuse, is that going to create a problem? Do you think there is going to be coercion?
Mr Stock: I do not know. When you look at the tourist exemption in Kingston in particular, it has been an issue as far as getting people to come here. We have had more of a problem, to my mind, with people going across the border because of some of the other politics that are happening in this country of ours. I do not think the two are related. I think we ought to be careful as far as the tourist exemptions go because a lot of people might be crying wolf here.
Mr Fletcher: Using the tourist exemption just to try to open their store?
Mr Stock: Yes.
Mr Lessard: I have a question that I was going to ask Pearl MacKay about earlier today, but I did not have an opportunity. I do not know how you feel about the tourist exemptions after answering Mr Fletcher's questions, but would you not agree that in a city such as Kingston, tourism is a vitally important industry, at least during the summertime, something that does need to be encouraged?
Mr Stock: We think that Kingston is a terrific spot. I think Kingston does a superb job of promoting tourism. I think there is room for tourists here. Six days a week they can enjoy the stores here and on the seventh day they can just enjoy Kingston, because it has a lot to offer without having to go shopping.
Mr Kennedy: Mr Chair, on a point of information. I just said that was brought up at our executive board meeting. It was voted down, the issue about the money for the NDP.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, I would like to pursue that point by way of a point of order and a point of personal privilege. This is a rather serious matter. I know that the witness said something inadvertent, and I hope you will indulge me for just a couple of minutes. I heard the witness say earlier in his testimony --
Mr Sorbara: If I might, this is an important matter. I heard the witness say, "We have decided not to give the NDP any more money until this is passed." As a matter of privilege and as a matter of order, under the Criminal Code of Canada, there are provisions respecting influence-peddling. Although I do not have the precedents here, it is contrary to the Criminal Code for a politician at any level to undertake to pass or promote legislation if his purpose in doing that is to receive remuneration. Conversely, I think arguments have been made in court that the threat to withhold money can be construed as influence-peddling.
Notwithstanding that the witness presented both positions, that is to say, "We have refused to give more money," and "We have voted that down," I am not sure now what is the truth. If it is the case that within this local labour council or labour councils generally or the trade union movement there has been a threat to withhold money as a result of the consideration of this legislation until it is passed, this is a very serious matter.
This committee is charged, in its responsibility for considering bills under the administration of justice, with bills like the conflict-of-interest act. I would ask you, Mr Chair, to refer this matter to the Attorney General of the province for consideration. If it turns out that there has been a threat to withhold money from a political party or from politicians as a result of the consideration of this bill and, as was suggested, until this legislation is passed, that warrants consideration by a crown attorney in the province of Ontario and by the Attorney General himself. So I would ask you to refer that matter to the Attorney General. It is deadly serious. That, in my view, at least can be construed as influence-peddling in the province of Ontario under the Criminal Code of Canada, and I would ask you to direct a reference to the Attorney General on that matter. If it is appropriate that I make a motion in that regard, I will do that. I will take your advice on that.
Mr Fletcher: On the same point of order, if I am correct -- and I believe I am -- when a union such as the United Food and Commercial Workers gives money to the NDP, it is in the form of a political donation, which is open to any political party. We know that the Liberals and the Conservatives receive donations from corporations --
Mr Sorbara: Individuals, unions.
Mr Fletcher: And individuals, the same as the NDP, and unions. Sometimes those donations are withheld, sometimes they are withdrawn and sometimes they are given in. As far as I know, I had no knowledge of this. I do not think anyone in this committee who is a New Democrat had any knowledge of what was going on. It was voted down at their union meeting in a democratic way. What they were talking about was not a gift of money, it was their regular donation which they usually donate to the New Democratic Party. There is no collusion, no way that the money is playing any part in this, and I cannot understand why Mr Sorbara would be even thinking that way.
Mr Sorbara: Just to speak to the point of order, I do not think this committee today can stand in judgement. There has been a suggestion in evidence before this committee that a threat to withhold money was made to a political party and obviously, therefore, to politicians, until such time as a particular piece of legislation was passed. Whether or not that threat was a serious threat, what the determination of the trade union or the district labour council was is a matter that ought to be investigated by the Attorney General and a crown attorney, and a decision as to whether or not a prosecution should proceed should be made by them. What I am asking, as a result of what we have heard before this committee, is that the matter should be referred to the Attorney General.
The Chair: You have raised a point of privilege. It may well be a legitimate point of privilege. I will have to look at Hansard. The issue, of course, of whether that particular issue was communicated to anyone is also another significant issue.
Mr Sorbara: We cannot stand in judgement of that.
The Chair: You are quite right, that is not our task. I will take that request under consideration and will check out Hansard as soon as I can. I will reserve judgement until such time.
Mr Stock: I would just like a point of clarification, if I might.
The Chair: Is it on this point?
Mr Stock: Yes, it is, because reference should not be made to the Kingston and District Labour Council as doing anything. Three times Mr Sorbara said that this local labour council was doing certain things or may be doing certain things. For the record, Kingston and District Labour Council has never and will never enter into that. The remark was made on behalf of an affiliate of a local group which is totally outside the realm of Kingston and District Labour Council. Just so the record is clear on that.
Mr Sorbara: Just to be perfectly clear, I would not want to suggest to you or impugn the motives of the district labour council. What I did hear though is some reference to some trade union or some local threatening to withhold money or withholding money. I am not sure to whom the reference was or by whom it was made or whether it was serious or frivolous, but if it is true, it is a serious allegation. It could amount to influence-peddling under the Criminal Code of Canada. We are not allowed to stand in judgement of that, but a crown attorney ought properly to investigate it.
The Chair: I think we should leave that point at this point. Thank you very much, Mr Stock.
Mr Sorbara: I mean no disrespect to the district labour council.
JAMES E. ANDERSON
The Chair: Our next presentation is from Jim Anderson. You have been patiently observing these hearings, so you are aware you have a quarter of an hour that can be divided up as you see fit. Please proceed when you are ready.
Mr Anderson: This will not take long. I wish express my opposition to wide-open Sunday shopping. As I have been a manager of a national chain for 30 years, I feel we need a common pause day. I will not have the option of refusing to work on Sunday, as a manager. I am a labourer too, not an owner.
If our shopping centre remains open or my company says the store will be open, I must be available for these hours. If my staff refuses to work, their right by law, that means I will be required to work every Sunday. As I am already required to work every Saturday except for two weeks during the summer, this does not give me much free time with my family. My day off is during the week. My wife is off Saturday and Sunday. Some people may say, "Why not get another job?" This is not very practical at my age, nor is it practical for the length of time I have been in retail, with retirement just a few years away and a pension at stake.
The freedom to open or close on Sunday remains with the owners, not the people left with the responsibility of staffing the store. The willingness to work on Sunday will be a necessary condition of employment for new employees, and it has been my experience that they do not want this. They all say, "I will work any time," then other plans come up when you want them to work.
You can say you cannot be fired for refusing to work on Sundays? Yes, they can just offer me a transfer and if I did not take it, I would be released and that is what they would do too. Where are my rights?
Another fact to consider is the cost to taxpayers for increased bus and policing. What about the increased use of hydro needed to light, heat and cool the shopping centres? Is it really necessary to waste these valuable resources for those who want Sunday shopping when most of them mean Sunday browsing, and I mean most of them, in the mall? This is what we find.
In 1990, the Kingston Centre was open for six consecutive Sundays during Christmas, which is the prime time. We did not do any better than the year before, and Sunday was the worst day of the week. There was no comparison. I had to give it up, so I was without my family and missed church. That is another thing here.
Retail workers are already at the lowest end of the pay scale. They do not get paid extra for working Sundays. We are asking the government to give us a common pause day and the right to a two-day holiday every now and then. We only get about three or four of them a year. Is that asking much?
I voted NDP when I heard it was going to do this, but I thought it was not going to be watered down. I thought they were going to close it and that was that. I ask you to please keep your promise.
Mr Daigeler: Quite frankly, I am a little bit confused as to the message I am getting here in Kingston. On the one hand we have individual retailers such as yourself --
Mr Anderson: I am not an owner; I am a worker. There is a difference. There are 40 people downtown who own their businesses and who want to be open; 40 out of how many? It is okay if they do not want to open; they want the right to open. In other words, they do not have to open if they do not want to. Once we open the malls we are open. That is it. We have no choice. They say we do, but we do not because as a national chain, when the mall is open we are open. There is where the conflict is. You are talking to maybe 40 people from downtown this morning. Now you are talking to a worker. I work there. Would you like to open Parliament seven days a week? Not really. You could not do it. It is not right.
Mr Daigeler: Are you talking to these retailers in the downtown district? They were blasting us for not giving them the freedom to stay open.
Mr Anderson: They are open here in Kingston. Did they not tell you that? The township just recently --
Mr Daigeler: Well, just recently.
Mr Anderson: Okay, they are open just recently. But it is the owners, not the workers.
Mr Daigeler: Would you give them the privilege to be open?
Mr Anderson: The problem arises that the shopping centre wants to open and then everything wants to open. They are just like a bunch of kids fighting over it. And 40 would be open downtown. I honestly say okay, fine, then let the 20 or 30 open. Let them open. They will not do anything.
Mr Daigeler: Were you involved in this local debate here?
Mr Anderson: At city council?
Mr Daigeler: Yes.
Mr Anderson: Yes, I was there.
Mr Daigeler: How would you explain then --
Mr Anderson: The city council did not listen, because at the last meeting the majority of people did not want the city opened. The first one, yes, because very few people knew of it or something -- I do not know what happened there -- but the second one, as soon as it got down to it --
Mr Daigeler: Obviously there still seems to be a very split opinion here in Kingston.
Mr Anderson: Tourism is up this year and the city was not open. It did better this year and was not open Sundays. It was open the rest of it, but it is just like anything: In this city we have so much historical value that we do not need the retail open. There is so much history in this city. This is the founding city of the country. We do not need the retail open. Some people want it, but as I say, the majority are browsers.
Mr Carr: I wish you luck. I guess you have had a lot of experience in presenting your views and for that I thank you.
Mr Anderson: Not really; this is just my second time.
Mr Carr: You might have one more.
Mr Anderson: I hope so. If it were up to me, it would be called the Lord's Day again and it would be done, everything closed, even the bars. The bars are open on Sunday. They are drinking and there is drunk driving.
Mr Carr: I think you have followed the debate and you know significant portions of the province will be open under whatever reason. The best way to handle this then, in your estimation, would be to withdraw this bill and bring in even tougher provincial legislation, but make it provincial so we do not have this checkerboard pattern type of situation?
Mr Anderson: Yes, and back it up. They used to back it up. It will be rough for a little while, but it is like everything else. Everybody forgets. After it has been a while and they are enjoying it, they will thank you for it. You might even get back in. Are you NDP?
Mr Carr: God forbid.
Mr Anderson: Who is NDP?
Mr Poirier: There is Liberal, Tory and NDP out there, so talk to them.
Mr Anderson: Is this being taped, by the way? Where are the cameras?
Mr Fletcher: Let me ask you a couple of questions. Did you find any noseprints on your store windows Monday morning?
Mr Anderson: We do not have windows.
Mr Fletcher: That is good to hear. You say the legislation is watered down. Why do you say it is watered down? What is the big problem with the watered-down part?
Mr Anderson: The big problem with the law is that it allows some people to open and some not. It is just simple. That is all it is. If I had anything, I would not care. I would let them open downtown if they wanted to. But our mall says, "If they are open, we should be open." The S&R over here opened the bottom floor.
Mr Fletcher: What is the S&R?
Mr Anderson: S&R is a department store over here. They opened their bottom floor. They cannot open the top three because they are over 7,500 square feet. Make it 200 or make it that if you employ more than eight people you cannot open, not have eight people in on Sunday; if you employ more than that, you cannot open.
Mr Fletcher: That is what the legislation says.
Mr Anderson: If you employ more?
Mr Fletcher: Yes.
Mr Anderson: I am quite sure the S&R has more than eight people in its employ. There is something wrong here. Any police here from the city?
Mr Fletcher: No, it is not in place yet. This is draft legislation.
Mr Anderson: Well, that is good.
Mr Fletcher: It is still open to change. It also has 7,500 square feet, the number of employees that are allowed to be --
Mr Anderson: Get it down to 200 square feet and it would probably be a lot better. Then they say they are opening here because of tourism, and who is open? Everybody is open. Well, not everybody; I think there are about 40 of them, but they are not all tourism-related industries. Do not tell me that.
Mr Fletcher: As far as the tourism-related industries are concerned, do you have a problem with tourism-related industries being open?
Mr Anderson: No. That is postcards and stuff that you get in the drugstores, like souvenirs.
Mr Fletcher: Also perhaps boat rentals.
Mr Anderson: No.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much for your presentation. We will take your views into account.
ZELLERS, CATARAQUI TOWN CENTRE
The Vice-Chair: Mr Paul Kehoe, thank you for coming. You have 15 minutes. You can divide that up as you wish, but I am sure all the fine gentlemen up here would probably like to ask you at least one question each. You can begin now.
Mr Kehoe: My name is Paul Kehoe and I am the associate manager of the Zellers store at the Cataraqui Town Centre, located in Kingston township. Like many area retailers, Zellers supports Sunday retail opening based on our experience of last year. Ultimately we would like to see all stores given the right to open if they choose. However, today I will confine my comments to Bill 115.
There are three aspects of the proposed Bill 115 I will comment on today: first, the lack of any appeal mechanism; second, the discrimination against stores larger than 7,500 square feet; and third, the right of workers to refuse previously agreed-to Sunday hours on 48 hours' notice without cause.
The proposed revised subsection 4(7) states, "The council is not required to pass the bylaw even if the tourism criteria are met," and subsection 4(8) states, "The council's decision is final." These two subsections have the potential to create exactly the kinds of inequities the government sought to avoid when developing this legislation. The only recourse available will be through expensive, time-consuming legal challenges.
Some background on the current status of Sunday shopping in Kingston will explain our concern about the failure of Bill 115 to include an appeal mechanism. The committee may have heard from previous speakers today that Kingston city council recently passed a bylaw modelled on the proposed legislation. As a result, local retailers are in the position of being able to comment from experience on the potential impact of Bill 115 as it currently is written.
In Frontenac county, under the present Retail Business Holidays Act, our individual local municipalities have the authority to pass bylaws with respect to Sunday openings. The Kingston bylaw applies only to the Kingston downtown business improvement area, a small area close to the waterfront. At public hearings, retailer after retailer supported Sunday openings, not just for one small area but for all of greater Kingston, including Cataraqui Town Centre.
Tourism is big business in Kingston: $171 million in direct spending in 1990, according to the Kingston Area Economic Development Commission, and $22.5 million of that was retail spending on gifts and clothing.
When you drop into a tourism information centre, the material you receive promotes greater Kingston and the Thousand Islands. This year, Kingston joined with Cornwall, Ottawa and Brockville to promote eastern Ontario as a tourism destination. We have shaken our image as a small and historic university town where tourists might want to spend an afternoon and are becoming an exciting destination offering a wide variety of activities for tourists of all interests.
When it came to Sunday retailing, tourism was suddenly only applicable to a few small blocks. Stores outside that magic zone have no possibility to compete for a share of that $22.5 million that will be spent on Sunday, which is one of the busiest tourist days of the week.
When all stores were open on Sunday for nine months last year, our store's share of Sunday sales ranged between $100,000 in the summer and $400,000 immediately prior to Christmas. That consumer demand, from both tourists and local residents, has not disappeared, but will now be met by a small number of privileged retailers.
Zellers and other retailers in Kingston township approached our council members for a Sunday opening bylaw to enable us to compete. However, Kingston township refused to consider our request and there is no appeal route available to us. We are forced to stand by and watch as millions of dollars in tourist and local retail spending is directed to some retailers and away from us.
Stores larger than 7,500 square feet: Section 2 of the tourism criteria introduced with the proposed legislation establishes tougher criteria for stores larger than 7,500 square feet or normally employing more than eight employees. These larger stores must also apply for exemptions individually. We believe this provision serves no purpose other than to discriminate against a relatively small number of retailers and their retail employees who may wish to work on Sunday. We request that this section 2 of the criteria be dropped.
Through the tourism criteria, the government has acknowledged that the support and development of tourism is a more pressing concern than the provision of a common pause day for some retail workers. The vast majority of stores are smaller than 7,500 square feet and therefore, in any given community that chooses to enact a bylaw, the majority of retail stores could open and the majority of retail workers could be employed for Sunday hours.
Section 2 therefore penalizes a relatively small number of larger retailers to no purpose. It also penalizes their employees who may wish to work on Sunday, as well as their customers who may wish to shop.
Large retailers have larger worker pools and are better able to accommodate individual preferences for Sunday assignments. At Zellers, Sunday hours were voluntary during the nine months when stores were open and we encountered no difficulty finding employees who were willing to work. Neither is size related to the store's ability to attract and serve tourists or local residents who wish to shop on Sunday.
Zellers supports tourism in Kingston, but the committee should understand that local residents also shop on Sunday in the stores that are open for tourist reasons, so the impact of this bill will be felt by all stores.
Right to refuse Sunday hours: Zellers supports subsection 39eb(1) and the right of an employee to refuse an assignment of work on a Sunday or other holiday. However, we find that proposed subsection 39eb(2) will make employee scheduling very difficult for retailers of all sizes.
Retailing is a service business, and one of the basics by which our customers measure us is whether we have enough personnel on the floor to assist with their purchases. Our policy of voluntary Sunday work has been successful in the past and we made every effort, as we do from Monday to Saturday, to accommodate workers who had family or other sound reasons for having to cancel previously scheduled Sunday hours. However, we believe that subsection 39eb(2) could potentially encourage irresponsible employee attitudes where difficulties already exist.
Perhaps an example closer to the committee members' own experiences might make the point. Members of the Legislature are also in the service business, the business of providing service to your constituents. Imagine that you have organized a constituency open house day on Sunday to open your new office location. On Friday morning at 11:30 am, just as you are about to leave Queen's Park to drive back to your riding, your constituency assistant calls to say that he has decided not to come in on Sunday. No explanation -- he just decided to do something else.
Do you not think you would be justified in questioning his commitment to his job? Do you not think you should be able to include that attitude when determining whether to schedule that person for future Sunday hours or promote that person?
Like you, we value our staff, but also like you, our ability to provide our customers with a service they expect and deserve depends directly on our being able to schedule reliable employees.
Conclusions and recommendations: Department stores are also suffering tremendously from the recession, cross-border shopping and increasing competition as major US retailers move into Canada. Department stores' share of total retail sales has been in decline for 15 years. Recent sales figures for department stores released by Statistics Canada demonstrate the difficulty department stores are facing; they are down 7.8% over June of last year.
Instead of penalizing us as large employers, we are asking that you give us the competitive tool we need to survive so that you do not have to bail us out when we are forced to shut down.
In this community, Zellers is a major employer, taxpayer and participant in community life, and we want to stay in business in this community. We are not asking for special consideration or different rules for our stores. We are only asking the committee to amend Bill 115 so that we have the same opportunity as other Kingston area retailers have to serve our customers.
Mr Sorbara: I want to thank Mr Kehoe. I am sorry I was not here for the opening part of his presentation. I want to tell you first of all that the points you made particularly on the issue of the 7,500-square-foot store are right on the money. In fact, it is unthinkable that the mall you are in might be allowed to be open under a broad exemption, and yet an individual application would have to be made by Zellers which could be turned down at the discretion of the council. That would put you at a terrible competitive disadvantage.
But the point I wanted to make and get your thoughts on is the right to refuse Sunday hours under the provisions of Bill 115. Most people, to tell you the truth, want to be absolutely politically correct, in the current understanding of that term, and really have a little bit too much fear to set down on paper the realities of this worker protection section.
During my time as Minister of Labour, the notion of an absolute right to refuse on 48 hours' notice was described by officials within the ministry as absolutely unworkable, that you could never come to an agreement with your employees, because no matter what agreement you came to, they would have an absolute right to violate that agreement. No contract, whether one of employment or one for delivery of services, can be based on the unilateral right of one party to simply abrogate the agreement. So I am glad you have put that in.
By the way, in a market of high unemployment, most retailers have found that they have a vibrant workforce willing to work on Sunday and no shortage of applications.
Mr Kehoe: We never had a problem getting people to work. We hired approximately 12 people when we were open on Sunday for that nine-month period. We hired about 15 people, and it could be working every Sunday, every second Sunday, every third Sunday, and then the rest was picked up by other people within the store working already.
Mr Sorbara: Did you have to coerce people into working on Sunday?
Mr Kehoe: No. There was no way we said, "Look, you've got to work Sunday or else."
Mr Sorbara: How did you go about managing to identify those people who would make up your Sunday workforce?
Mr Kehoe: Volunteers. It was a lot of students, maybe wives working. Maybe their husbands were working. She was not needed exactly at home that day. It was a 12 to 5 shift. Why not make an extra $35 or $50?
Mr Sorbara: I do not have any more questions, but I just say once again that it is courageous to put in a presentation the view that part of the law is really unworkable and unpracticable. All of us would like to have an absolute right to refuse just about anything that comes about in our life if we so choose, but in a relationship of employment, agreements have to be made, whether they are collective agreements or individual agreements, and then it is the responsibility of both parties, I think, to honour those agreements.
Mr Jordan: Thank you, Mr Kehoe, for your detailed presentation relative to a large retail outlet as compared to the areas you have referred to in the city that have been approved for Sunday shopping. I was wondering, if you had the same rights as they have, do you feel you would be taking the business from them to your location, from these small shops here? These people travel in by boat, I understand, and most of them are pedestrians strolling the area.
Mr Kehoe: I would say that part of it, coming by boat, is a percentage, but a lot of people are here as tourists by car, by whatever means. There would be no problem, I am sure, of getting to our mall. We have never had a problem, as far as I know. The only thing I know of is Sunday bus routes. That is the only problem I know of basically, but otherwise there is no problem getting to us.
Mr Jordan: It was sort of the impression I got from the mayor this morning that this area was more catering just to local tourist traffic here, rather than overall tourists.
Mr Kehoe: I do not know how many people, if you want to go to the far end of where it stops for people shopping, are going to walk that far on a Sunday. Do they walk two blocks, five blocks, 10 blocks? I do not know where you cut that off.
Mr Jordan: So you are saying that like some of the smaller towns in my riding where they have declared the whole community --
Mr Kehoe: Yes.
Mr Jordan: The town of Perth is considered a tourist area, so those that wish to open may do so.
You said department stores are suffering tremendously from cross-border shopping and increasing competition as major US retailers move into Canada. I thought they were going the other way.
Mr Kehoe: No. I would have to double check the exact retailers, but I know two or three retailers who are looking at it being very viable coming into Canada.
Mr Klopp: Just a point of clarification: You have on page 2 that there is $171 million of money spent in the tourist area for the whole of 1990, in the Kingston area. That is all of 1990, for the whole year. Then it says $22.5 million was spent on gifts and clothing, of the $171 million. Then you get to page 3 and it says that this magic zone is $22.5 million that is spent only on Sunday. That is not correct. It is not $22.5 million spent only on Sunday.
Mr Kehoe: No.
Mr Klopp: My thought is that if you would get that point cleared up, maybe you would not be so concerned about this. It is not the big numbers you are talking about. In fact, according to the people we had earlier this morning, 9,300 people stopped in on Sunday only at the information booth, and they used the number that 24 cents of their dollar was spent on clothing, so it is more like $220,000 per Sunday that you may be missing, not $22.5 million per Sunday. Maybe that would not be such a big deal for you then.
Mr Kehoe: It would be a share of that dollar value.
Mr Klopp: Yes. There is only so much money to go around. In fact, later on you said there was $100,000 you were collecting. My sense is, and this bill was only for the labour, that maybe it has a spinoff that small businesses have a chance to compete against people like you, and you are against that. You are on record for that? Is that the gist of your --
Mr Kehoe: Sorry; I did not quite understand.
Mr Klopp: Your Zellers store is on record that you are against the idea that small business should have a day like this? You are against that idea?
Mr Kehoe: The point we are trying to make in this presentation is that if a small guy can open, let everybody open.
Mr Klopp: So you are against the idea that they have a day when they can compete against you?
Mr Kehoe: Sure.
Mr Sorbara: If they are closed, you cannot compete.
Mr Klopp: That is what I mean. You want to be open to beat them up some more?
Mr Kehoe: Yes. We are not trying to beat up anybody.
The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much, sir, for that fine presentation. We will take into account what you are saying.
Is Don Bristol here, please? Seeing that Don Bristol is not here, I would ask that we take a 10-minute recess. Can I please ask staff and members to stay in the room.
The committee recessed at 1605.
The Chair: Next we have Mr Don Bristol.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, as Mr Bristol is coming up to the microphone, could you just set out the agenda for the balance of the afternoon for us?
Clerk of the Committee: The agenda for the balance of the afternoon is Mr Bristol, then a cancellation at 4:15, then Dave Meers at 4:30. That is it for the day.
The Chair: Mr Bristol, we have about a quarter of an hour for your presentation. Basically if you could divide that time between your presentation and some time left over for questions from the committee, I am sure members here will have many questions for you. Please feel free to start when you are comfortable, sir.
Mr Bristol: First of all, I would like to thank the committee for giving me the opportunity to make a few brief remarks on what I feel is the issue, which is not Sunday shopping; it is working on Sunday. I am speaking with 26 years of experience in the retail business, not as a general but as a private, not as an owner or a manager but as a salesperson in the retail business.
Mr Poirier: And you are so young.
Mr Bristol: Thank you very much. Probably some of my remarks will be repetitious, but not having the benefit of having attended the other hearings, please bear with me.
There are added costs to the potential vetted cost to the retailers and the consumers. First of all you have additional overhead. You have lighting, heating and possibly extra staff, which all adds to the cost of doing business. That has to be passed on to the consumer.
I am sure you have heard it before: You are taking six days' business and shoving it over seven. There is only so much water in the well. Everyone only has so much disposable income. Believe me, as I have seen when they tested it last fall with the Sunday shopping, you may do a little business on Sunday, but instead of having the quiet days traditionally on Monday and Tuesday, now you have Wednesday, Thursday and possibly Friday.
Other added costs: You have a lot of people in the retail sector. Most of them are women and a lot of them happen to be single parents. So naturally, what do you do with the children when Mom is working on Sunday? We will be expected to provide day care, which you and I will have to pay as an added cost.
Public transportation: There will be greater demand for public transportation, and of course there is not a paying public transportation system that I know of in North America, so guess who pays for it again? The taxpayers.
You are going to have added policing costs because you have the potential now for more armed robberies and shoplifting and for more vehicular traffic in commercial areas. Those are all added costs. Who pays the bill? The taxpayer.
Some of the arguments for Sunday shopping foresaw that it would help stimulate business in the downtown cores of our communities. If I may use an example, in Watertown, Syracuse, Messina or Gouverneur -- any one of those communities across the border in New York State that have had the luxury of Sunday shopping for many years -- you will find the complete opposite, so it just does not hold water to say that having that seventh day of shopping will stimulate business in the downtown core.
This claim that it will create more jobs: In fact, it is quite the opposite. In my experience in the retail business, you have less coverage during the week to provide product knowledge and service to the consumer. That is another cost, if you wish, to the consumers.
There have been remarks that it will help to prevent cross-border shopping. I do not want to go into that, but I would like to refer to a meeting of the eastern Ontario mayors, wardens and reeves, a conference held in Cornwall on June 20. This is from the minutes of that meeting. There were 14 mayors in the task force at this time and it was unanimous that cross-border shopping had nothing to do with Sunday shopping.
Mayor Stephen Clark, who is from Brockville, mentioned that everything comes down to taxes in municipalities. The price of gas, cigarettes and alcohol has to stop going up. Mayor George Zegouras, who is from Belleville, said that everybody is affected. Mayor Stephen Clark would like Mr Pilkey to meet with groups from different sections of Ontario as soon as possible. This was June 20 and held in Cornwall.
Why a common pause day? I heard some of the interview on CJOH last night with two members of this committee. For lack of a better word, we use the words "common pause day" because most of the people in the retail sector do not have the luxury of a Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 position, and they would like to spend a little time with their family. What is wrong with that?
There was a remark made that those in the manufacturing industry work on Sundays. Well, this was a condition of employment when they started there, and I can assure you they are not making minimum wage, $5.40 or $6.00 an hour. They are making twice and maybe three times that amount.
What is wrong with the retail worker having that day off with his family? You say you can have Monday or Tuesday off. That is fine, but the children are in school.
Those are pretty well all the remarks I have to make. I would welcome any comments.
Mr Daigeler: Thank you very much for coming before us. You are not affiliated with any particular group. How did you hear about this session?
Mr Bristol: It was advertised in the local press. I was involved in the discussions when they came before the city. I am a city alderman, but I am here as an individual. I am concerned about the retail worker, having worked there, as I say, for 26 years. I know what having Sunday shopping can do to families. We went through that experiment last fall. It is not pleasant.
Mr Daigeler: You are a city alderman. I indicated earlier to previous presenters that I am really left with an ambiguous feeling from this day here in Kingston. The presenters seem to be about half and half, and all very articulate and forceful arguments on both sides, quite frankly. In other communities there seemed to be more of a consensus either way. Back in Ottawa, I would say the majority was against Sunday shopping, or not against but at least willing to let us decide. Here it is even. In the north everybody seemed to argue that we should stay open for all kinds of reasons, whereas here it really seems to be very split, half and half. Would that be your reading of the public's view?
Mr Bristol: To be honest with you, I feel the majority is opposed to having people working on Sunday in the retail sector. We held public meetings here in the city. In the last one, which was to deal with the consideration of opening the downtown area for Sunday shopping, it was two to one opposed to opening up and freeing up the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Mr Daigeler: It still carried, though.
Mr Bristol: It carried. I do not want to get into the politics of it, but the strings are being pulled very high by a very small, influential group in our community. Needless to say, being an election year, I am sure it comes in handy to have extra support.
Mr Daigeler: You think this is going to be a major issue in the municipal election?
Mr Bristol: I cannot read that. I think there are many more important issues, although I do not say this is not important, having that common pause day. As you know, we have a lot of environmental problems, and the eroding tax base in our community. I would be very surprised. It could become an issue, but I am not aware of it at this point.
Mr Carr: Do you like the idea of your council making the decision, or would you rather see it left with the province? A lot of areas, particularly municipal politicians, like it. They like to have the final choice.
Mr Bristol: I have to be honest with you. It was a very big disappointment when the now-Premier, then the leader of the New Democrats, the day before the election in Windsor promised thousands of people, "You can trust me; I will protect your common pause day." We find the exact opposite. When Mayor John Gerretsen spoke to the cabinet about three years ago in Perth, he encouraged the Premier of the day to take a stand for this common pause day, and they did the opposite. Now we feel the present government is doing the same thing. They are passing the buck because it happens to be a controversial issue. Stand up for the workers in the province. This is a golden opportunity. Let us not let it slide through our fingers.
Mr Carr: One of the things that bothers me more than anything else is the great division within the community. It would seem tough decisions have to be made. If they could be made at the provincial level, it avoids the fighting -- one uses the word "friends", pitting them one against the other before council, where it is going to be a tough enough decision because you are going to have half and half, or whatever it is, either way. A great majority of the population is going to be upset. What makes it even worse is if you can somehow blame Toronto and Queen's Park. It sometimes is a little bit easier.
My big concern when I see debates going on is that this will come out before council. People are going to say that because of your stand as an alderman, they are not going to vote for you, even though they may like you for nine out of 10 other things. It is going to be very divisive in some communities. It was interesting to see that a lot of communities wanted that. Even the question of who is going to decide is very difficult.
With regard to the tourist exemption, and as it relates to this bill, what is your feeling with that? As you know, this council could elect to be open because it is so broad that you could include almost any area. Do you like keeping it that broad or would you like to see it narrowed down?
Mr Bristol: I would like to see it narrowed down. Reading through the act, and I am not an expert, but looking at it, you are right, there are an awful lot of loopholes, and just about anyone could open in this community.
I understand there is going to be a 7,500-square-foot maximum and a maximum of eight employees. We have an example here in this community. We have a retail store that has three floors. So what they do is close down the second and third floors and they can open the first floor on Sunday. That is a major loophole. I would like to see it that if they have the 7,500 square feet, that 7,500 square feet is the same on Monday as on Sunday as on Wednesday as on Thursday. Let us not be able to cordon off a part of the store so as to make it legal. Let us mean what we say.
The major grocery stores, for instance, would probably be able to juggle around somehow so they can open up. For the little family stores, and there are still quite a few in our community, that is their main day of doing business. They are providing an extra service so that if mom runs out of milk, we can get it. I am not objecting to that, and I think you will find that a lot of the people who work for the giant grocers do not object to that.
I would like to see that loophole closed so that your square footage is based on your seven days of selling so that it is not going to be that you can squeeze it down for Sunday shopping to make it legal.
Mr Carr: Good luck to you. You are going to need it.
The Chair: Mr Mills with a point of clarification, as the parliamentary assistant.
Mr Mills: Roping off is prohibited now, and I am sure you are aware of that.
Mr Bristol: Would they qualify, then, for closing off their second and third floors and just have the first floor open? You see, this is what I am afraid of. This is what is happening.
Mr Mills: All I am saying is that roping off is prohibited. That is all.
Mr Bristol: I would appreciate it if the committee could look into this to see that it is the same square footage Monday to Sunday.
Mr Kormos: Look, you are well aware that the history of this issue is a somewhat bizarre one. My God, Dianne Cunningham, from the Conservative party, was elected in the by-election in London, campaigning so strongly against Sunday shopping and making it quite clear that she -- she was a leadership candidate -- as a Conservative, was an advocate of a common pause day. By God, there were some of us who actually thought, for a few brief moments, that the Conservative party advocated a common pause day, that they maintained their support for family and the church and for communities. That seems to have disappeared.
Mr Jordan: That is not correct.
Mr Kormos: Wait a minute. They will have their time. It seems to have disappeared, and it is particularly difficult when they will not put the cards out on the table. I hear questions, Mr Bristol, from the Conservative participants in this committee, to people like yourself, about what would be better, provincial regulation or municipal regulation. If they are suggesting that provincial regulation is superior to what is in the bill, I think I am in agreement with them. More and more people like you have been saying that is a better way of doing it.
Mr Bristol: But Mrs Cunningham was a member of the caucus. We had a promise from the Premier of this province. It is different.
Mr Kormos: I tell you that there are a whole lot of members of that Legislature, like myself, who were elected on the basis of the commitments we made to our constituents, the belief in a common pause day, and the belief that it had to be a common pause day for the greatest number of people possible.
Once again, we inherited legislation that the last government created with this whole concept of local option. We opposed local option. We criticized it. I am so pleased that what is before us is but draft legislation. One of the consistent comments that has been made over the last few days I have been with this committee is this concern about municipal control over who opens and who does not open, as compared to a body which might be more independent and more removed from the guts of the community, and more ready to make, perhaps, an objective decision based on standards that are universal across the province.
Our difficulty is in really determining, although I have heard some very clear and candid comments from people like yourself over the course of the last few days, who have had real concern about what is going to happen in our province. One of my concerns is the fact that --
The Chair: Do you have a question?
Mr Kormos: Oh, just watch me turn this into a question, Mr Chair. My concern is that we cannot get the straight goods on exactly where it is that the Liberals are coming from and where it is that the Tories are coming from, in terms of really what do they propose. I am fearful that they may not really be advocating common pause days at all. If they do not, they should say so.
All I can tell you is that what you said has been in common with what so many other people have said. They are points, in my view, well made, points with which I, as but one member, a mere backbencher, am in very strong accord, particularly because it was promises that we made, and I think we have an obligation to keep those promises, to our constituents, both as a government and each one of us as members of the Legislature. We said certain things at our committee upon which we received support. Do you think it is correct in that regard?
Mr Bristol: I will tell you, there is a big disappointment. We tried to get your colleague, who is sympathetic to a common pause day, who refused to attend the public meetings. None of his staff would represent him. He is a member of the government, your colleague the member for Kingston and The Islands. He had the opportunity to send representation, if he could not be there, to stand up for workers in this province and in this riding, and he refused to do that. It bothers me.
There was a big commitment. I can tell you that the retail sector may be a small parcel of it, but I think it is part of the parcel why the New Democrats were elected to the province. It was to guarantee, to protect the workers on Sunday in the retail business. We feel now that the exact opposite could happen.
Mr Kormos: But you are saying that is a promise that was made that you expect to see kept.
Mr Bristol: Yes.
Mr Jordan: I just want to raise that point with Mr Kormos that the Conservative party was never on record as being against family or church, as he just stated.
Mr Kormos: Just Sunday shopping. You are just in support of Sunday shopping.
Mr Jordan: The issue here is Sunday shopping. It is self-discipline. What you do with your time on Sundays is up to each individual.
Mr Kormos: So Mrs Cunningham no longer speaks for the party, is that it?
Was she wrong when she advocated that?
Mr Jordan: Mr Kormos, she never spoke against the church or family. I would ask you to remove that remark.
The Chair: We would like to hear from Mrs Maudsley, I believe. Our last witness is not here.
Mr Daigeler: Kormos wakes up.
MARY K. MAUDSLEY
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Maudsley. You are very tolerant to have attended to the whole afternoon and see --
Mrs Maudsley: The politicizing of the whole issue, the partisanization of the whole issue.
My name is Mary K. Maudsley. I came here today because I saw an ad in the paper. I guess it was an advertisement regarding this meeting. I did not have time to have anything formally prepared.
I have come, though, as a member of a very large and very influential group, otherwise known as the consumers in this community. There does not seem to have been anybody so far today who has spoken from the consumer's point of view. I do not own a business. I am not right now employed, so I am not a member of the union. I am just a member of this very large group called the consumers.
I feel I have to say as part of my qualification today that I am also a Christian, although I am of the lifelong variety and not of a more recent conversion to some of those things. I have a successful family. I think you will call it that under most circumstances. We are still hanging in there together and the children are successful.
I would just like to make several comments and maybe rhetorical questions that arise from what has been said here today. I also espouse the concept of at least one day of rest in the week, although as a mother raising a family I seldom got one day of rest. My job seemed to be 24 hours a day and seven days a week. I do, however, espouse a pause day for everyone. I do not think that a common pause day is possible, because as soon as you speak of it as you did a couple of minutes ago, sir, you qualify that and you say it is for the greatest number of people or some such thing, or you exempt essential services or something like that. So I do not think a common pause day is at all possible; a pause day, yes.
Perhaps it would be reasonable to say that for the government, one of its possible actions here would be to say that no one -- that includes the firemen and the policemen and the nurse and the physician and maybe even the mother -- should be required to work both Saturday and Sunday. It would be another way of saying that there should be a pause day from labour.
Another observation I would make is that I always wonder when I come to these meetings and these discussions why people stand up and say that Sunday should be the day for doing things with your family, for worshipping, for contemplation of your life. My question is, why is it only done on Sunday? Why are these people telling me to do that just on Sunday? Why are not churches open for me to worship every other day of the week? Should I only do things with my family on Sunday because that is maybe what other people are doing on Sunday?
I am saying all of this to illustrate the notion that a common pause day is just simply not possible. Politicians do not get a common pause day, although they could perhaps take one if they wanted to.
I do not think the government -- any government; this is not a partisan comment -- should put itself in the ludicrous position of telling people that they cannot work any more than the government should tell me that I cannot shop.
It seems to me, in summary, that there are really two decisions although there is a third one as well that cannot be forgotten. I would say to any government, let us, the consumers, make our decision to shop or not to shop on Sunday. I am not telling anybody he has to shop on Sunday, but I do not really think he has the right to tell me that I cannot or that I should not.
Then let merchants decide whether they would open or not. They will have to test it out and see if enough of us will come in to make it worth their while, but no one should tell them they have to open, and I do not think in most cases there is anyone telling them they have to do that.
The government might say, for instance -- this idea I put forward a few minutes ago -- that none of the people, no one, just leave it that no one should have to work seven days a week. I do not think anyone is promoting that idea, that anyone is going to work seven days a week, except for physicians.
Mr Sorbara: I want to thank you for making your representation, although you did not schedule yourself early on. There has been one major lack, I think, in the evidence that this committee has been hearing, and that is to say that we have heard from an endless variety of interest groups, somebody speaking on behalf of business or the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, or the Lord's Day Alliance or the Catholic congregation in Ottawa. We have had lots of that and we are going to have a lot more of that, but unfortunately it is virtually impossible to seek out representation from the people in general. We are all of us consumers, men and women and children of the province who on a daily basis or on a weekly basis provide for themselves through the purchases we make.
It should give you some solace to know that at least we are now aware of surveys which support the point of view you are arguing, that in the most recent surveys over 50% of the people of the province, the consumers of the province, would prefer to be able to make their own choices in this regard.
I am fully sympathetic with your notion that contemplation, religion, our own spirituality ought properly to be a part of each day of our life and each of us should have the freedom to organize a day in which we have a special ability to step back from the workforce. In fact, there is one good thing about the bill that is being presented. It has a provision for 36 consecutive hours off for retail workers. Most of them have that anyway, but the government has determined to put it into the bill.
If, as it turns out, the government were to withdraw this bill and allow the community of Kingston to regulate store hours on Sunday the way it regulates store hours on every other day of the week, do you as a mother, as a consumer, as a resident of the community feel that there would be a diminishment in the quality of life of the community of Kingston?
Mrs Maudsley: No.
Mr Sorbara: Thank you. Neither do I.
Mrs Maudsley: Actually, that was maybe a quick answer. I have never had it explained to me really clearly how that would diminish it. I do not think it necessarily would. I think it is a ridiculous notion that Sunday shopping is to be blamed for family problems or family breakdown, if that is what you are referring to.
Mr Sorbara: Just on that point, would you not agree with me that if the only time a parent is paying any attention to his or her children, or setting aside moments or minutes or hours for children and family life, is Sunday, then that family is probably in very desperate straits? That is to say, parenting and family life are part of every minute of every day.
Mrs Maudsley: Yes.
Mr Jordan: I would like very much to thank you for representing the consumer today. This is really the first time in my short time on this committee that I have heard, if you will, the independent consumer's point of view. Somehow we keep trying to connect whether I spend time with my family or whether I go to church with shopping on Sunday. I do not see any connection whatsoever, because I can do both quite well, and I think people are self-disciplined enough that they are quite capable of managing their time with their families.
Whether there is open shopping or not, these people who are not going to spend time with their families are probably gone fishing on Sunday or someplace else. Sunday shopping to me is not relative to family life. Family life is something that goes on every day, 24 hours a day. As you say, the churches, most of them, have their doors open seven days a week, and anyone can go in and spend a quiet time and have just as much benefit from it on a Monday as if he did it on a Sunday. I thank you very much for your presentation.
Mr Mills: Thank you, Mrs Maudsley, for coming here this afternoon and making your views known. I presume they are your individual views, that you are not part of a consumer group, per se, just as an ordinary --
Mrs Maudsley: I am not part of a formal organization. I am just part of that same very large group.
Mr Mills: I had a little difficulty with the way you were speaking about Sunday being a common pause day. Why is it Sunday? My reaction would be that for any other day, we would have to rewrite society. Are we going to call Tuesday the common pause day? Everything, to me, seems geared to Sunday. Buses are on a skeleton schedule; trains do not run. Sunday is shutdown day. So if you have any difficulty with that being the case and you ask why it is, I think it is very obvious: because it is part of our heritage and it has been for many years recognized as the day.
We talk about Sunday shopping, but really -- I have said it many times -- we are here listening and talking about Sunday working. Sunday working is the issue, not shopping.
I would just close off my remarks to give my colleague a couple of minutes. I looked out the window here this afternoon, and I said to myself: "What on earth would anyone want to come to Kingston and shop on Sunday for? It is so beautiful." No, really.
Mr Sorbara: I am glad you make those choices for them.
Mr Mills: No, it is a personal opinion. Why would you shop?
Mr Sorbara: A lot of people are delighted that you make that decision for them.
Mr Mills: I do not interrupt you when you are talking, Gregory.
Mr Sorbara: Yes, you do.
Mr Mills: No, I do not.
Mrs Maudsley: I would like to answer that. The trains do not run any better on Saturday out of Kingston than they do on Sunday, for one thing. I understand about the buses, but that is the sort of thing that can be changed if it is necessary. My main objection, I must say, is the same one that you make. I am not trying to impose my perhaps perceived lack of -- I hesitate to say "morality," I do not think it is quite that. But I am not imposing it on anyone. I would sit here and fight against the government saying, "You have to open your store," at least as vehemently as I would fight against the government saying, "You cannot open your store."
The Chair: Mr Klopp, you have a very short amount of time left.
Mr Klopp: You bring interesting comments, although I think most people who were here today, although they talked from one side or the other, are also consumers. There was also a comment made a little earlier by someone who said that if you only got one day a week of good time with your family, you are probably in deep trouble. I guess I am one of those who only has one day a week where I make time, and so does my wife. My children are not perfect and we are not a perfect family. I do not think we ever will be, but I take exception to that. I think if you spend one day with your family, you can make it go.
You have been around here for a while in Canada, I assume.
Mr Carr: Be careful about that.
Mr Klopp: Yes, I better be careful. We have had a common pause day for a long time in this province. Some say, "Well, time goes on and times change and we should do it." I get caught up a little bit when they say it is modern and new, and I think to myself for a short time, yes, because we can change. But we actually lived in a time when there was an opportunity to have a common day when you did not have to go to work. Although I see some of your points, I think this is a work day, not a day where I want to go shopping because someone else has to work.
I would like to have a rule for our roads that says, "Would you mind driving 80," rather than having a law that says you have to. I once in a while go over that speed limit, and if I get caught, I pay the fine. But I think that is along the same lines as this. It would be nice if we could say, "Would you mind doing it?"
It is a dilemma, I agree, but I think it is somewhat necessary, especially after hearing some of the comments where workers do not get the chance, and they get beat up a little bit by their bosses who force them to work. I wish we lived in a perfect society like you are talking about where we would not have that problem. But our grandfathers also had the same dilemma, I am sure, and I do not think they wanted to say people do not have a common day. You have to protect people from themselves a little bit.
The Chair: Thank you, Mrs Maudsley. Mr Mills has a point of clarification.
Mr Mills: I would just like to advise the committee that in the last presentation, made by Mr Bristol, he posed some question about -- I said "roping off" and he asked some questions about some other areas. I am pleased to say that the legal person here has met with Mr Bristol and his queries and questions have been answered, for the record.
The Chair: The bus will leave at 5 o'clock. I would like to thank the city of Kingston for its pleasant hosting of our efforts today, and of course our many presenters, including particularly our last who has waited for so long, Mrs Maudsley.
Mr Sorbara: Just before we adjourn, Mr Chairman, might I just ask the committee now to agree to have a brief in camera session at the beginning of our day tomorrow morning, arising out of testimony we heard today? I will be putting two motions before the committee at that time, and I think it is probably best under the circumstances to have that meeting in camera.
The Chair: In camera at what time, 8:45?
Mr Sorbara: I would prefer if we could do it at 9 o'clock.
Interjection: Why do we not do it now?
Mr Sorbara: I am at the committee's pleasure. We could do it now.
The Chair: Is that the consensus? We are adjourned until 9 o'clock tomorrow morning, except for the in camera session which will occur immediately after the hall has been vacated.
Mr Sorbara: I really would like to take some counsel first, and I will be able to do that overnight. So with the pleasure of the committee, I would prefer to do it in the morning.
The committee continued in camera at 1700.