Wednesday 31 July 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
Scugog Ministerial Association
Hudson's Bay Co
Tip Top Tailors
Ontario Chamber of Commerce
Canadian Tire Dealers' Association
South Asian Action Centre
Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto
Canadian Lord's Day Association
Ends Clothing Store
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)
Cooper, Mike (Kitchener-Wilmot NDP) for Mr Morrow
Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L) for Mr Chiarelli
Lessard, Wayne (Windsor-Walkerville NDP) for Mrs Mathyssen
Murdoch, Bill (Grey PC) for Mr Harnick
O'Connor, Larry (Durham-York NDP) for Mr Winninger
Clerk: Freedman, Lisa
Campbell, Elaine, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service
Swift, Susan, Research Officer, Legislative Research Service
The committee met at 0937 in committee room 1.
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 would like to call our committee hearings to order. These hearings are into Bill 115, the Retail Business Establishments Statute Law Amendment Act, 1991, and our first presenter this morning is Mr David Shepherd from the Scugog Ministerial Association.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, if I might just for a moment, as our first witness comes up to the committee table --
The Chair: Perhaps I could allow our first witness to sit down.
Mr Sorbara: Sure, certainly. I am just going to be a moment or two. It is all very informal here. You need not worry. We just have a little bit of politics to take care of.
The Chair: Mr Shepherd, I will introduce you to the committee members in a few moments, after Mr Sorbara's comments.
Mr Sorbara: Mr Chairman, as you know, we have just received word of a very major reorganization of the executive council of the government. Our party certainly offers best wishes to Mrs Haslam, who just yesterday was a mere mortal sitting on this committee analysing Bill 115.
More important perhaps for the purposes of our work here is that we have had the appointment of a new Solicitor General and Minister of Correctional Services in the person of the member for Oshawa, Mr Pilkey. I know Mr Pilkey, prior to his election to Parliament, had been a mayor of a municipality in the province of Ontario. More important even than that, he may well have significantly different views on the matters we are discussing here today under Bill 115 than his predecessor, whom we wish well as well, as we do all the new MPPs who have been appointed and those who are now leaving the executive council.
I would suggest that in light of the appointment of Mr Pilkey, this offers a fresh opportunity to consider the matter within a context. I am not suggesting the government is going to wholly abandon its position, but I think it would be appropriate under the circumstances if we urgently invited the new minister to come before this committee to express his views on how we ought best to regulate the business of Sunday shopping and give all of us as members of this committee an opportunity to examine him, question him and have his views on the record of the committee.
The reason why I say that is that in my own experience, through five and a half years on the executive council of the province, although policy shifts were not immediately evident on day one of a cabinet shuffle, certainly the appointment of new ministers in new ministries often, if not always, indicated a new direction for that ministry and the matters for which it is responsible.
So I would ask you and I would ask the agreement of the committee that we urgently send an invitation, through you as Chair, to Mr Pilkey to come and testify. If that means that we have to sit an extra hour on one of our days or we have to for go lunch and have him come here during the lunch hour or whatever, I think it would be absolutely essential that we do that. I would move that you issue an urgent invitation for the minister to come and testify before the committee.
The Chair: Is that a motion?
Mr Sorbara: Yes, that is a motion.
Mr Fletcher: We have no problem with that. How about we wait a couple of weeks so that he can be briefed on what is going on in his ministry, and closer to the end, when we are back in Toronto, perhaps that would be a time to get Mr Pilkey here. We have no problem with it, but just out of courtesy, give a person some time to get into the ministry, to find out what is going on. I know you said urgently, but --
Mr Sorbara: I would just say to my friend that we would leave the timing of that to Mr Pilkey, the Chair and our clerk to arrange a suitable time.
Mr Fletcher: It was the word "urgently."
Mr Sorbara: Yes, an urgent invitation. The reason I said we should vary our schedule is that we were advised by the clerk yesterday that our time is fully booked now. We have witnesses to fill all the time available. We could, if we chose, open up some additional time. I personally would like to hear from Mr Pilkey as soon as possible. Certainly, he will want to spend the next couple of days being briefed by his ministerial officials, but I do not want to hear the views of his ministry on this. I do not want him to come and tell us what his ministry thinks of Sunday shopping. I would like to hear from Mr Pilkey. So I would like the unwashed Pilkey, if you like. I am sure he will want to scrub himself up a little bit and apprise himself of a variety of issues. If it needs two weeks, that is fine. If it needs three weeks, that is fine.
We are in the midst of hearings. These hearings are very important. We have a lot of witnesses. We see already that the matter continues to be controversial. I think the cabinet shuffle offers us an opportunity to perhaps stake out some new territory on this very difficult subject. This is the gazillionth time that a parliamentary committee has had hearings on Sunday shopping. It seems always to be to the same effect. Perhaps this time, with a new cabinet -- Lord knows, it cannot be worse than the last cabinet -- and a new minister, we might have a new beginning on this subject.
So my motion is on the table, but I did not mean to say that he had to testify within the next day or two. We will have to make those arrangements. We cannot subpoena him. We cannot require him to testify, but we can invite him urgently to come here. This is now his bill and he has carriage of it along with his parliamentary assistant who, I reiterate, should be sitting up here and not over there.
The Chair: I think we have already discussed that with Mr Wessenger in the past.
Mr O'Connor: I am sure the clerk will work in her normal expedient fashion. I do not think you need to direct the clerk to be urgent in handling these matters. Because this particular legislation has three ministers involved in it and two ministers are still involved in it -- no change has been made -- perhaps we need not worry quite as much as the fears Mr Sorbara seems to be sharing with us today or his apprehension. I think in good time he will come before us and he probably would welcome the opportunity too. So I look forward to when he does come and I support Mr Sorbara's motion.
Mr Carr: I just wanted to take a quick minute to wish the new minister luck. I know he hopes it will be passed on to him. Also, with some regrets, I say goodbye to the former Solicitor General, who I know worked hard. I think I can appreciate what Mr Sorbara said at one of the other hearings: how you can be in cabinet one day and it all ends very quickly. So we wish him the best of luck.
I would encourage that we do get a chance to sit down with him at the most convenient time possible. Mr Pilkey, as you know from his background in municipal affairs, should be fairly conversant with this issue because it has been going on for such a long period of time. I would look forward to getting a chance to hear his views, because quite frankly I think it may change. The government has said it is prepared to listen to some of the presenters and change things, and this will give them a good opportunity to do it. A new minister coming in can say this is the new direction. So I look forward to it.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Carr. Any further discussion? All in favour of Mr Sorbara's motion? Opposed? Carried.
The clerk suggests that either the 15th or the 29th of August is possible. It will probably require sitting early in the morning, but we can certainly extend that invitation and work out the details at a later point.
Mr Sorbara: My preference would be the sooner the better, because the 29th is very near the end of our hearings. If he chooses the 29th, well, he chooses the 29th. I would like to hear from him as soon as possible. But again, let's leave that to you and to the clerk and to the minister.
The Chair: I am not sure the timing is all that pressing in terms of Mr Pilkey. He rarely comes unwashed.
SCUGOG MINISTERIAL ASSOCIATION
The Chair: My apologies again, Mr Shepherd. The workings of these committees usually run more or less smoothly.
Mr Shepherd: No problem. I have been on a few myself.
The Chair: Basically you have half an hour for your presentation. Typically that is divided between your presentation time and about half of that time for questions from the committee members, who I am sure will have a lot of vital questions coming from your presentation. Please feel free to start when you are comfortable.
Mr Shepherd: I have handed out a copy of the brief, presented by David Shepherd, secretary-treasurer of the Scugog Ministerial Association. I think the thing to do is to just go through it.
The introductory part just speaks of the Scugog Ministerial, made up of the clergy of the congregations in the Scugog township, which is the area around Port Perry, and it is Anglican, Baptist, Christian Reformed, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic and United churches. We meet every month except for the summer. We have some ministries that we co-operate in through the area, and we get together for a combined worship service once a year, and then we do some discussion and prayer together.
The next section, the position of the Scugog Ministerial, comes from discussions we have had. I am here as a result of being contacted by Gord Mills's office about three weeks ago from a letter we wrote to them last September. In that letter we supported the New Democratic Party's stand that the provincial government bears the responsibility of passing legislation with regard to Sunday shopping. We also supported the New Democratic Party's stand that this responsibility should not be delegated to the municipalities. We believe the NDP took this stand when the Liberal administration passed such legislation, which delegated the responsibility to the municipal governments.
On the whole I could say that the Scugog Ministerial opposes the extension of Sunday shopping. Wesupport the concept of a common pause day. We support the stand that people should have legislated freedom from their jobs to enjoy their family and their loved ones and simply to relax. We believe that on the whole the common pause day should fall on the same day for everyone so that families and loved ones have the opportunity to get together, the day being Sunday. It is a 1,700-year-old tradition of Christendom, which is when the Christian church became the official church of the Holy Roman Empire, which is Europe and the area around that. It is a long-standing tradition that the day falls on Sunday.
The legislation mentions a common pause day, but there is more than a common pause. I am quoting from the explanatory notes, and the same language appears in the bill. In the explanatory notes it says:
"Part I of the bill establishes the principle that retail business holidays are common pause days and that municipalities should not use their exemption power to permit retail business establishments to open on holidays except to maintain or develop tourism."
What I want to draw your attention to here is that the words "holiday" and "common pause day" appear very close together, but they are not the same thing. The meaning is not the same. "Holiday" means holy day, which is a time set aside for holy pursuits. I want to take you back through a little bit of a Bible study. In the Bible the Ten Commandments appear in two places, once in the book of Exodus and once in the book of Deuteronomy.
In Exodus it says:
"Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. You have six days in which to do your work, but the seventh day is a day of rest dedicated to me, God. On that day no one is to work -- neither you, your children, your slaves, your animals, nor the foreigners who live in your country. In six days I, the Lord, made the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything in them, but on the seventh day I rested. That is why I, the Lord, blessed the Sabbath and made it holy."
It dedicates a day to God. It gives the opportunity for the faith community -- these were people who has left slavery in Egypt and were now forming a free community out in the desert -- it gives them the opportunity for holy pursuits. For those who are not within the faith community it gives the opportunity for rest and relaxation. The rationale in the Bible also says God took a break from work, and I think there is a strong implication that if God needs a break, then you and I need a break too.
The commandment stated the second time, in the book of Deuteronomy, is the same commandment, but there is more reasoning. It says:
"Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath."
The issue in the book of Deuteronomy is freedom from slavery. If you are going to be a slave for somebody else, you are a slave, but if you are a slave to yourself, then you are still a slave. We are quite capable of enslaving ourselves and you know that from the major health problem of stress that people impose upon themselves. So the commandment gives us freedom from servitude to others, but it also gives freedom from servitude to ourselves. It also says, when it talks about giving rest to other people, and even the animals, that we are not to impose servitude on other people. So the issue is much one of freedom.
When you put holy day and common pause day together, I would encourage you to hang on to the common pause day, but I would like to stress the meaning of the words "holy day," that it means a day set aside for rest and it is a foundation of freedom.
We are concerned about the outcomes of Bill 115, and one is that people will be compelled to work Sundays whether they want to or not. I think a lot of the current legislation is based on the idea that people have the right to refuse to work Sunday without fear of losing jobs or suffering disciplinary action.
Within and around the ministerial, and just about everybody I have talked to, I have not yet met anyone who says this provision could possibly be enforceable. I cannot see how it can be practical. I do not see, nor does the Scugog Ministerial, how you can make such a provision work, even if you legislate it.
There are many employers who respect the needs and convictions of their employees. This kind of employer needs no legislation at all. They respect their employees and they do what is right by their employees. But anyone who is determined to circumvent it would have, we believe, little problem. When you set up legislation or rules, you automatically set up a challenge of how to either circumvent the rule or break the rule and still get away with it. With the situation here, the need of the enforcement machinery, it would be just so expensive and so cumbersome that I do not know anyone who thinks it could possibly work.
I know that, listening to a news report a couple of weeks ago, there was an international meeting on justice, and the justice system of Ontario was a bit of an embarrassment to us because of the cases thrown out of court involving violence and so on that could not even get to court for the backlog. This legislation, I believe, is well intentioned but unenforceable.
We see that the legislation as it stands leads to the erosion of the common pause day, which is what we are after in the first place, by giving the municipalities the right to pass bylaws which designated applicants for tourist status as tourist businesses. In other words, as I read it -- I got the legislation on Monday -- the business applies to the municipal council for tourist status, the municipal council grants or does not grant tourist status, and that is it. It becomes effective on the passing of the bylaw.
At the same time I did not see anything -- maybe I have missed something in the act -- whereby municipalities revoke tourist status for businesses that do not qualify but currently enjoy it.
It just opens the way to more and more tourist-designated businesses. In effect, I believe, it also reverses the stand the New Democrats took in opposition. When the responsibility was delegated to municipalities, the New Democrats opposed that. It seems to me that what is proposed in the bill is simply a more cumbersome way of saying the same thing.
I want to draw attention to the responsibility of the government to govern. I know that in every congregation, perhaps not every Sunday but many Sundays during the year, we pray for the people who hold government responsibility because this is one of the very responsible tasks and one of the great tasks, and the tradition of the church has been to encourage prayer and support for the civil government. So we do this out of respect for the members and the heavy responsibility they bear. Within every Christian church the good Christian citizenship involves good citizenship of the domain you are in, the country and the province. We are praying that the government governs, so we are appealing in general terms to the provincial government to govern, and this means to set the standards within the area of provincial government's responsibility.
I want to go to the area of common sense, and again I have had wide consultation on this within and without the ministerial and I do not know anybody who does not think they can spend as much money in six days as they can in seven. We do not spend very much money on Sunday and it is two weeks to payday. Yesterday evening my wife and I were discussing how we are going to make it to payday.
The notion that seven days of shopping will result in a one-seventh increase in commerce, or any increase in commerce or business, really does not make any sense to too many people. What it does mean is that the same amount of commerce is done, only you take one more day to do it and deny people the opportunity to take a break.
The final part of this brief sets out, I think, a fairly clear alternative. It comes through the Beatitudes and it says simply that no one can be a slave of two masters, or no one can serve two masters. In the Bible you choose between serving God and serving money. If you serve God, then this makes money a tool in the service of God. If you decide to serve money, then you are going to fix up your gods and arrange your gods to serve your money.
When I look at the material I find some descriptions of the tourist industry which say that "tourism generated $15.5 billion in revenues in Ontario." That is one quotation. Another one says, "The most significant amendment we are proposing will provide province-wide criteria for an exemption to holiday retail closing requirements for tourism-related businesses." Finally, it talks about "the tourism industry; an industry which is one of the cornerstones of our provincial economy."
As you write legislation, we hope and pray that you choose not to serve money. We believe your deepest convictions would be serving God. We appeal to you to search the depth of your conscience for what you value, for the value of freedom and people, a time for people to lift up their hearts in a way of their choosing and, quoting from a song we are familiar with, "A place to stand and a place to grow." We appeal to you to put these considerations in the legislation.
Mr Sorbara: I do not think there is any doubt that the whole history of the regulation of retailing, of store openings on Sunday in Ontario, is based on the strong, deeply rooted Christian heritage of the province and the foundations of those laws emerge right out of that ethic which, as you point out in your submissions, go well beyond Confederation and the writing of laws in Ontario.
An objective analysis would say that this effort to try and create a common pause day is yet again the next expression of that, but Ontario since that time has changed dramatically. That is to say, not only do we continue to have strong Christian traditions, but we have a number of other religious traditions that are alive and well and part of the foundation of our culture in the province and in Canada. At the same time we have a strong secular, non-religious or, in some respects, atheistic tradition in Ontario that needs to be respected.
I agree with you that the best way to live one's life is to find one day in seven to rest. Why do you think a modern state like Ontario, a modern jurisdiction like Ontario, ought to choose between those who would see their Sabbath on Sunday, those who would see their Sabbath on Saturday and those who would see their Sabbath on Friday? Why would you continue to put the responsibility on the state to legislate that? Finally, why would you restrict the legislation to the retailing industry? Is it not true that if we really wanted to observe the kinds of things I think you are genuinely and powerfully arguing for, we would call for no work to be done in retailing, in manufacturing and the service industries on the Sabbath?
Mr Shepherd: I would like to take those one at a time. The first one was the Sunday? As I am coming as a representative of the Scugog Ministerial, which is a Christian group, appealing to you because you said your legislation cannot come out of one religious tradition because that is not the way the world is, does this make sense? You are saying it does make sense that there be a common pause day.
Mr Sorbara: No, I did not say that. I said we are expressing a bias here for the Christian Sabbath in a society that has good, strong Christian traditions but strong Jewish traditions as well; Muslim traditions as well now, and also secular traditions. Why should we continue to choose the Sabbath of the Christian tradition?
Second, why should the state do that? Why cannot the individual identify his preference and, much like an orthodox Jew, simply not undertake any work in complete compliance with the Scriptures you quoted?
Mr Shepherd: The reason a common pause day should be one day of the week, be it Friday sundown to Saturday sundown, which was the original Sabbath, or Sunday or Wednesday -- say Wednesday noon to Thursday noon -- is so that people have the opportunity to get together. If you have a family and everyone has a different day, then you do not have the opportunity to get together. Fundamental to the idea of a common pause day is that it is common. Whether it be Sunday, as far as I am concerned, is up for negotiation. There is a 1,700 year tradition of that, going back to the days of Christendom when Constantine became the first Christian ruler of the Holy Roman Empire. There is lots of tradition behind Sunday, but I do not know of any reason other than it is tradition.
Why it falls upon the legislators of the province to legislate is that this is the government of Ontario, this is the government of the realm. Nobody else can do it.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Sorbara. I am sorry, we have run out of time. Mr Carr?
Mr Carr: Yes. First of all, I want to thank you for your presentation and also for the part in here that says quite often you pray for the NDP.
As we sit back and reflect, one of the questions I have would be along the same lines of what Mr Sorbara asked. If we are going to say that as a result of religious convictions we need to have Sunday off, is it based on the workers or would that also include the people who would then do shopping, who see it as a leisure activity? You are talking now specifically of the workers. Would it be okay for you if people themselves wanted to go out and shop?
Mr Shepherd: When you say "out of religious convictions," those are the religious convictions of Scugog Ministerial. We recognize they are not everyone's religious convictions. When you are legislating it has to be on the basis of what makes sense. We are saying that in the religious tradition there are things in here that make sense. We believe it makes sense to anyone. When people shop, when you have buyers, you also have to have sellers, and many of those sellers are employees.
This is not directly on Sunday shopping, but there is a great deal of child labour going on now. One of the original intentions of the original Lord's Day Act -- there are Lord's Day people here who are more qualified than I am, but one of the things was to set children free from labour. When you are opening places to sell, then these places need to be staffed.
Mr Carr: But what you talked about with the day of rest, when you listed the fourth commandment and so on, is it just for the workers? It is not for somebody who went out and shopped? You are not saying that people should not be going out to shop as a leisure activity, that they should stay at home or whatever? That is what I was trying to get at.
Mr Shepherd: Yes. The original intent was to set everybody free from work. On a common pause day I take a pause. If I take a pause and you work for me, that means you take a pause too. You cannot say, "This is my pause day; you work." It seems to be consistent.
Mr Carr: That is where I think some of the other people have been arguing that if that is the case, then why do we have Blue Jays games where the parking lot attendants, the hot dog vendors, the baseball players -- in fact, I remember when I played hockey for a living. I played Christmas Day in Sudbury in the Ontario Hockey Association, which is probably the most religious day in the calendar. I did not like that because I did not get the chance to go home. In fact, factories work Sunday, car manufacturers have seven-day shifts when things are going well and so on. What would you say to somebody who said: "Why are you just picking on the retail workers? Why don't we shut down the baseball and the theatres where people are working, the airlines and the hotels?"
Mr Shepherd: I cannot speak for the Scugog Ministerial on this one, because we are opposed to further extension, but we take a point in time now and my personal conviction is we have gone way too far on this already. I think there are people who are being compelled to work right now. You could not get home, you could not be with your family on a religious day. Well, you could have been with your family, but you had the choice between being with your family and being on the team. If you were home with your family, enjoying your family, you would have been blacklisted by the team. That is an awful lot of pressure to put on a young hockey player. So my personal conviction, just speaking for myself, is that we have passed a point. When we talk about erosion of the common pause day in the brief, this is nothing new. This has been going on for a long time.
Mr Carr: As a matter of fact, as I remember, we won 3-1. It was the best game I ever played. If I had played more games on Christmas Day --
Mr Shepherd: That was the compensation. What about the folks who lost?
Mr Mills: Thank you very much, David, for being here this morning on behalf of the Scugog Ministerial Association, which represents a large number of churches and the congregations thereof in my riding. I am very happy to see you here and to talk to you again after almost a year, when we discussed some of these very things during the election campaign.
Ministers have a particular role in society and today we live in a society that is fraught with divorce, with stress, with a general malaise that runs through families because of the time and the day we live in. I am just wondering, David, if from your experience as a minister, counselling people probably, you can expand. How important do you see the common pause day in our society today, in so far as renewing and keeping families together is concerned?
Mr Shepherd: It is a hard question to answer because so much of it is gone. It would certainly make it easier for families to be together. It would relieve the pressure of other alternatives. If people did not have to work, then they could be at home with one another. That does not guarantee they would be. You cannot guarantee what people are going to do. You cannot impose on people just because you give them the liberty to do it.
The original legislation, which goes back 3,400 years or somewhere thereabouts, says the community of faith takes the day and the sojourners among you can do what they like. It is a day that people could use for family pursuits, if they so chose, or if not, social pursuits. But I think it would help.
Mr Mills: I know you have a few qualms about some of the legislation that is in this amendment, but basically I believe you support the concept of this amendment to Bill 115.
Mr Shepherd: The common pause day concept, yes.
Mr Mills: The common pause day. You feel we are going the right way when we are trying to legislate freedom for people to have that day together.
Mr Shepherd: Yes.
Mr Mills: And you, sir, speak for the Scugog Ministerial Association and all its churches here today.
Mr Shepherd: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Shepherd.
HUDSON'S BAY CO
The Chair: Our next presenter is Mr Agnew from the Hudson's Bay Co. I apologize for our tardiness. We had a little bit of business at the outset this morning.
The typical presentation, sir, is that you have half an hour. You can use that time however you wish. I am sure many committee members will have many questions for you, so could you leave some of that time for them for that purpose.
Mr Agnew: I think I can help you pick up some of the time you might have lost this morning. I will not take half an hour. I think our views are very well known to the committee in total, mainly because when this started in the fall of 1986 we were there and are still here.
As many of you know, the Hudson's Bay Co has believed for some time that Ontario does not need any retail legislation for Sundays. I suppose the last nine months of Sunday shopping pretty well proved that from a couple of points of view, not so much from our own business viewpoint, but certainly that the consumers at large viewed it as an interesting thing. The longer it went on, the greater it got.
I think it was widely reported in the press, certainly on Monday, and I will reiterate it for you, that in the nine months we were open, and that is the Bay, Simpsons and Zellers, we did over $100 million in business on Sundays. That is a significant amount of business. It tended to escalate, but that was to a certain degree part of the calendar, as it went through. We started in the second week of July 1990 and went through the fall season. As we got closer to Christmas, obviously sales became larger and larger.
It pretty well paralleled our experience in Alberta and British Columbia, where we have been open for at least 10 years now on Sundays, that the consumer likes it. It is the second-largest day of the week for us in absolute sales volume and the highest dollars per hour we have of any day during the week. I bring this up only from the point of view that we are in the consumer satisfaction business. They either like what we do or we have a major problem, and the consumer likes Sunday shopping. That is the business we are in.
I suppose the big issue that faces this committee, as opposed to other committees I have talked to, is that I think we are past the point of really looking at whether in fact this is a big social issue, or an issue at all. I think one of the things that maybe is not quite understood is that the retail business -- and I am not just talking about the department store industry -- in Canada, and specifically this province, has got some significant problems facing it that are multifaceted, but one of the key issues is that it is probably the largest single employer in the province. We alone, as one company with about 3% market share of total department store type of merchandise business, employ 23,000 people in this province.
I suggest to you that the problem we are facing is that we are a major employer. We have to find ways of employing more people. We are also a significant barometer, I think, because we serve all socioeconomic backgrounds and we know what our customers want and what they do not. It certainly varies by municipality and by region. That is one reason we advocated that decisions of this nature should be decentralized unless you were going to have a common pause day, which is fundamentally the purpose of this legislation.
We have a problem with a common pause day inasmuch as the legislation does not address a common pause day. It is allowing thousands of stores to open or potentially open. I will give you one example: If the municipality deemed that the Eaton Centre was in a tourist area, about 350 stores could open and 15 could not, and the 15 could not because of their size or numbers of employees. That happens to be Eaton's at one end and Simpsons at the other and a few larger stores.
It seems very difficult for us to get our head around a common pause day when in fact thousands of stores will be allowed to open because they are deemed a tourist attraction or something. To me that tends to be a bit of an oxymoron. We are allowing stores to open, but you want a common pause day, and you do not want a common pause day in other fields of endeavour or other businesses, if you will.
Our feeling is that if you want a common pause day, close everybody down. Successive governments have not taken that as being a great idea, so we end up with more and more stores being open. I guess that is where our problem on a common pause day comes in. We can live with that very nicely. Just shut the retail down.
The other thing is, what is 7,500 square feet? I do not know where a number like that comes from. The only thing we can point a finger at is that since there are only two stores in the entire Eaton Centre that are that size, other than department stores, where would 7,500 square feet come from? It happens to parallel the size of a Shoppers Drug Mart. Good for them, great lobbying, but again, the Shoppers Drug Mart is not a drugstore. A small Zellers is what in fact it really is.
This is where we have a discrimination problem. We really have a problem dealing with these inequities. If you have to have a drugstore open, great. That is no problem -- have a drugstore open. But 60% of Shoppers Drug Mart business has nothing to do with drugs. In fact, 20% of it has to do with selling cigarettes. I will give them full marks. They have done a good job in terms of lobbying their position as being a drugstore, but again, I do not think it serves a common pause day situation. I do not think Shoppers Drug Mart or any major chain of that nature is an essential service.
I mentioned that jobs were an issue and they certainly are an issue in our company. Because the legislation was very clear and it was voluntary labour, we asked our staff who wanted to work. Roughly 30% said they did not want to work on Sundays; 30% indicated, "Yes, sometimes it would be a good idea," and 30% said, "We'll take all the hours we can get." Therefore, we had to hire about 75% of our contingent to work on Sundays, as a general rule of thumb, in most of our plants. It varied by store a little bit, but that amounted to 2,700 people who were working on a Sunday who were not going to work at any other time because we had the staff to fulfil those hours of opening. I would suspect that was pretty well true for every retailer that did in fact open, because it was voluntary, and if my numbers are correct, I think there were 15 complaints about having to work on Sunday that were lodged over that nine-month period.
We believe that is true. We started off, as I said, 10 years ago in two provinces on the basis of voluntary labour, and it certainly was not a problem operating our stores on that basis. If in fact it has to be entrenched in law that nobody can be made to work on Sunday, that is great. We have no problem with that. There certainly are a lot of people who want to work in this province and in other jurisdictions. There is no problem there.
I think in overall terms the issue we are faced with is really and truly an economic issue. It is about jobs, it is about successful companies, it is about cross-border shopping, it is about a lot of these things and, frankly, it has nothing to do with the Lord's Day Act. It has nothing to do with what you might or might not want to do as an individual on Sunday. If you want to go to church, go to church. Nobody is making anybody shop. We are saying if you are in the retail business, open or do not open. It is your decision to make as a storekeeper or a consumer. Consumers, obviously, have indicated that is what they want to do.
If the agenda of the government is to have a common pause day, then have a common pause day, but do not have legislation that essentially is enabling legislation for anybody to say, "Okay, here's our idea, and every merchant in Lake Scugog is going to open for three months during the summer on Sunday." I certainly hope the merchants are open on Sunday. It is a little boring up there in November.
I think this is one of the problems you face. It is just that there are smart economic decisions to make, and I do not think that has anything to do with anybody's moral character. People are coming through the locks; I think you want to have your ice cream store open; end of story.
I do not think tourism is the issue here. You know, the Beaches have been open illegally for -- I do not know -- how long? As long as there have been stores there, I guess. They are open every Sunday in the summertime and they are not mom-and-pop operators. Big chains, the same ones that are in the Eaton Centre, are open there every Sunday and never prosecuted.
That was always our other problem, that the legislation was so complicated that the police frankly were not too sure who could be open and who could not be open. Currently, right now, you have Price Club open across this city and I ask you, who has done anything to shut them down? These guys do $1-billion worth of business, Price Club. You probably have never been in one, but I am just saying, go there. They are wide open on Sunday and they are busy. About 65% of the business is food and the rest of it is general merchandise, and they are building more stores. They have not been charged once and they are wide open.
So we are asking at the same time, what sort of position do we have in terms of enforcement of some of these situations? The logical argument would be, "Hey, if Price Club can open, then obviously Zellers can open because it has Club Z." A bit of a dumb argument, but certainly one we would be prepared to run out in court.
I think that is the other issue here too, that we are not the only retailer that feels this way. I mean, we are out there trying to keep, in total terms, 65,000 people employed, trying to keep some shareholders happy and trying to satisfy the customers, so we have to do what we have to do to run our business effectively and stay in business. Otherwise you end up being like Massey-Ferguson and going bye-bye, poof, over the border.
I think it is a very serious issue. Although it is called "Sunday shopping," there is more to this than just whether Sunday shopping for five hours is a big deal or is not a big deal. It is a major economic issue these days. I think the cross-border shopping thing is partially due to Sunday shopping, not totally.
We have a long way to go as retailers to stay competitive. Wal-Mart, the biggest retailer in the world, is opening in Buffalo. They will do $45 billion this year in revenue. They are going to do $100 billion by 1995, and if they jump the border, they are going to be an awesome size of operation, run totally out of Arkansas. They do not employ a lot of people. They do everything right and they could be an awesome piece of competition coming into the border.
We have to be competitive, but the interesting part is that when people are going over the border, they might be buying the odd T-shirt at the outlet mall, but what they are really buying at the outlet mall is booze, gas, cigarettes and food, all of which are taxed like crazy. The reason liquor and cigarettes are such a great deal down there is the taxation issue. It costs Rothmans and Philip Morris the same to make a cigarette; the rest of it is just tax issue, and this is where we have to become competitive. We really have to become competitive, but your research is as good as mine, and right now the bulk of the people are going over the border on Saturday night and Sundays. That is when they are travelling; they are not going over on Tuesdays.
I suspect that if I were a retailer in Niagara Falls I would be very concerned that I could not compete. Windsor at least had Sunday shopping. Kingston, maybe, will go. The city has indicated it will go, but I think these are major issues that these border communities have really got to be concerned about. It is not like sitting in Toronto and saying, "Boy, wouldn't it be nice if we could all lie around in our backyards all day." This is somebody's livelihood we are talking about and I think it is a major issue. If we are going to centralize the decision-making, then I think it has to be looked at very carefully. This is not a small issue any more; this is a major, major issue. I leave you with that.
There is certainly all kinds of information in the brief that you can go to. Our position is well documented, but I think times have changed since the last committee met and I was in this room a couple of years ago; a major change in government too, and obviously minister.
Mr Daigeler: I have two questions, the first one being, how does a corporation such as yours formulate a position such as the one you are putting forward and how does it arrive at the brief that you are putting forward?
Mr Agnew: How does it arrive? Well, I can give you the genesis of it. The original brief we submitted to a government committee in Ontario was in 1987.
Mr Daigeler: Perhaps I should clarify a little bit. What we were trying to find out is, who determines the policies?
Mr Agnew: The management committee of our company.
Mr Daigeler: And that would be how many people?
Mr Agnew: Oh, about 10, 12, and it is consultation, certainly, with a lot of store managers and various people along the way. In the case of the Ontario situation, we had --
Mr Daigeler: If I may interrupt there, in the formulation of this position or perhaps even of your other positions as well, is there any involvement of the workers that you have?
Mr Agnew: Yes.
Mr Daigeler: Or of the local store managers? Is it only the 10 people you were just referring to?
Mr Agnew: No. We decide on a position and it is basically taken out to the field for input to see who likes it or does not like it, and I would suspect that every decision is the same way. Everybody does not like every decision that gets made, rightly or wrongly, but at that point, it still goes out, and we decide that we think this is in the best interests of the company.
In the case of this specific issue, we had at that point about five years of experience in British Columbia and Alberta where we had in fact been open on Sunday. This was not something that we dreamt up and thought would be nice.
Mr Daigeler: I am a bit biased on this whole thing, and I will put it bluntly to you and see how you react to this.
Mr Agnew: Go ahead.
Mr Daigeler: I think you are quite right. There has been a shift in the view of the public on this matter, and I think you in particular, because I think you have been active in this for a long time, have been successful. But I am wondering whether we are not looking here at a social movement that is driven by a relatively few North American -- and I stress the words "North American," probably "American" -- business interests that are corporate.
Mr Agnew: That is an interesting question. It certainly is a North American phenomenon vis-à-vis a European phenomenon, ie, Sunday shopping, no question about that, although it is kind of interesting that the same situation is happening over there in France and in Germany and in Britain to a certain degree. The same sort of bubbling up is starting to happen, although I give Europe full marks. They have a common pause day in Germany or in Vienna or wherever the case may be and the place is shut down like a drum.
Mr Daigeler: And it starts on Friday afternoon.
Mr Agnew: I am aware of it, but at least it is a true common pause day. We do not have a problem with that. What we have a real problem with is saying it is a common pause day and everywhere I go stores are open, legally or illegally. If I was in the grocery business, if I was a grocery chain, I think I would commit suicide. What can I not buy on a Sunday? Every corner is selling everything from soup to nuts, little stores to pretty big-sized stores. That is where our wheels fall off. We are saying, have a rule. We do not care what it is, but have a rule and everybody will stick to it.
We have no problem in Manitoba; the place is shut down like a drum. We have no problem in Quebec; the place is shut down like a drum. But there was enough movement there that at least Quebec said: "Listen, we understand you retailers. Tell you what we'll do. We'll give you night shopping and we'll give you four Sundays in December, when it is the critical time for your livelihood." At least we got four Sundays when we really wanted them and basically everybody in Quebec went, "Hey, that's great." We went, "That's great," too. We would like more, but that is fine. We will accept that.
I am saying, if you have to have a compromise on the thing, you say, when do retailers make all their money? Leaving food out of it, most retailers are breaking even or losing money for nine to ten months and in two months of the year they make it or break it. If they do not have a good November and December, they have major problems. I suggest that if we are looking for a compromise, then you say, "Fine, let's let the guys do it at Christmas." Certainly there is precedent on it in terms of night shopping. When we did not have nights to open, that was the first thing we could open in the month of December, whatever the rules were. It varied by province. But we are saying, have a common pause day, great; then shut them down -- Price Club, Shoppers Drug Mart -- unless there is a need to be used.
That is our opinion. Yes, we are advocating Sunday shopping, but we will accept the hard rule. But we have a lot of trouble saying, "You guys close, but we're going to let a couple of thousand other stores open because they happen to be at Queen's Quay." Give me a break. When Sunday shopping came into effect Queen's Quay stores almost went broke, because if I have a monopoly, I am going to have a field day. Let me be the only department store to open on Bloor Street or Queen Street or in Mississauga or something.
Mr Carr: I know what you mean by that. My wife went out to get some salad one Sunday, and she could go out and buy it, the market was open, but she could not buy the dressing for it. But she could if she went to the convenience store and bought it, so I know what you mean by its being confusing.
I was interested in some of your figures on the people working; I think you said 30%, 30%, 30%. The impression has been given by some of the government members, and in fact even the Solicitor General, that one of the problems we have is that business, and in particular the big, bad, large businesses like yourself, have been forcing people to work on Sundays, and I just want to clarify. I think you said that 30% want to work, 30% said, "We'll do it sometimes" and 30% did not, and that as a result the 2,700 workers who would not be employed otherwise were all volunteers. So these were people who were not coerced into working. These are people you hired who would have no job as a result. Is that correct?
Mr Agnew: That is totally correct.
Mr Carr: Also, one of the big concerns I have is the 7,500-square-foot rule. Not being a lawyer, I would not want to guess whether that would seem to be fair, but I suspect that will be challenged. If in fact a municipality like Halton -- let's take my area -- passes a bylaw very simply and makes Halton open because it is a great tourist attraction, and then as a result of each of the individual stores having to apply individually, the council says, "No, we don't want to fill up our agenda with the Bay coming, the large stores that are going to come through; we're not going to go ahead taking a look at these because it would literally fill up some of the agendas," would your company at that point most likely be taking the law to the courts to decide about that 7,500?
Mr Agnew: I think if that scenario transpired the way you wrote it, we would certainly have to actively look at it. Again, one of the other problems we have with the act itself is that some of the requirements, in terms of applications -- no appeal, da dum, da dum, da dum -- are really sort of scary in terms of what you can or cannot do or might or might not happen in this type of situation at the municipal level.
Mr Carr: It is my feeling that if a region is going to say it is going to open because it is a tourist area, it is going to be a lot of time and money, from both the company's standpoint and the municipality's standpoint, to then sit and listen to it. If they want to open, for whatever reason, that is fine, but what do you anticipate happening with a number of municipalities that you will be dealing with having to go back? How much time --
Mr Agnew: I think it will vary. We did a lot of cruising around when we had the other legislation, long before it was in court, talking to the municipalities and the regions about this issue, and we talked one on one with the chairman and stuff about what we could or could not do. I think if you are going to declare a region a tourist area, subdividing it from that point onward does not really make a lot of sense. I mean, either you are open for business or you are not, and all of a sudden saying, "Wait a minute. Your store is too big. You can't really get the tourist dollar. That is for Harry down the block," really does make any sense, and frankly, it is not fair.
Mr Carr: What is your particular company's situation, if it is public knowledge? Are you in a loss situation right now?
Mr Agnew: Oh, no.
Mr Carr: So you are profitable now.
One of the things that has come up, even when we debated where we were going to go, is that the government side said it is not a cross-border issue. I think you are right. The big issues are the gas taxes, the booze tax. They are the biggest things, and in fact in this last budget they were all increased by this present government. So I think there is a lack of understanding of what is creating it. What would you say to the members who have said that this is not a cross-border issue, that staying open on Sunday has nothing to do with Sunday shopping? In fact, the former Solicitor General said that as well. What do you say?
Mr Agnew: I guess everybody has an opinion, but if you look at the statistics of when people are going over the border, as I said, I think it is 16% and change who are going over on Sundays. I do not think that is accidental. Obviously people have maybe got Saturday and Sunday off, but it is interesting; it is far higher as a percentage on Sundays than it is on Saturdays or Friday nights. I think that is partially the fact that they cannot shop right now. They are not just going over, living in Niagara Falls. They are going over from Toronto, Scarborough, all over the place.
Mr Carr: Do I have more time?
The Chair: No.
Mr Carr: I should not have said anything. You probably would not have caught me. Thanks very much, and good luck.
Mr Fletcher: I just have a few things. I agree with what Gary was saying about cross-border shopping and Sunday shopping not really being tied into it. But as you were saying, there are so many people going across the border, this problem with cross-border shopping -- when there was wide-open Sunday shopping for nine months, people were still going across the border. It did not seem to turn them around.
Mr Agnew: I agree, but I think you would agree with me that the issue of cross-border shopping is a phenomenon of 1991. This was not a big issue in 1990. This is a fairly recent phenomenon. It has taken off like a rocket, essentially at the start of this year. Again, I am not advocating that Sunday shopping is the total issue here.
Mr Fletcher: I know you are not.
Mr Agnew: Saving money is the issue here, but I think at the same time that Sunday shopping, or competitive shopping on any day of the week, is critical to keeping prices down. The minute you have legislation to allow somebody to open and somebody not to, the guy who is open is going to get more money for his product; end of story. If you are running a corner store, you are making more money without any competition than if every grocery store in the city is open; end of story. It is just a matter of logic. I think that is really the issue, being competitive. We have to figure out a way of getting good value to the consumer that is equal to that of the United States.
Mr Fletcher: Sunday shopping alone is not going to do this.
Mr Agnew: No, but certainly I would say it is part of it. It is a significant part of it. It allows you to compete. Now you are giving the consumer no alternative, "I can't shop at all," never mind being competitive.
Mr Fletcher: As I was going through your brief, you also mentioned -- I understand your concern; I am just trying to get some facts cleared up -- thousands of retail workers will not have jobs if you do not open up on Sundays -- just during the time, if I remember correctly, the Bay did cut some staff not long ago.
Mr Agnew: It was in the spring of this year.
Mr Fletcher: Maybe it was reorganization or something.
Mr Agnew: Call it what you want. We reorganized and we eliminated 250 people.
Mr Fletcher: And that was during the time when there was wide-open shopping.
Mr Agnew: No, that was this spring.
Mr Fletcher: Okay, let me just give you a stat. This is not your store, but this is part of the retailers. Just after June 1990, when there was opening, there were 200 jobs lost at A & P, and that was with wide-open Sunday shopping. I have a problem when people come here and tell me, "If we open up Sundays, we are going to create jobs," because it has not been proven that happens and there are not really any data to go either way. I just know that people have lost jobs.
Mr Agnew: I will give it to you, whether you want it in writing or however you want it, but what in fact we actually did: how many people we did employ, who worked, how much money they made. Whatever kind of information you specifically want, I will get that for you, to indicate we had to hire, because our policy is simply that you cannot work more than five days a week. We do not allow overtime. That is rule 1. You can only work five days a week and you can only work 37 hours a week. If you are open seven days, you have got to hire people to work the days. It is that simple. We hired 2,700 people, period, to work the five hours, and we paid them a full day's work to do it.
I do not know what the other companies did. I do not want to talk about them. I can just tell you what our three companies did.
Mr Fletcher: Okay, that is fine. Where are the 2,700 now? Are they still working?
Mr Agnew: Some who are part-time employees would be still working, yes, with fewer hours, but the bulk of them are not working. Unfortunately, they happen to be the students, women, etc.
Mr Fletcher: Just one other thing, going back to cross-border shopping again. You have stores in the western provinces. In British Columbia, with wide-open shopping, the highest percentage of people cross the border to do their shopping. Again, I know it is not just the cross-border shopping issue, but it does not seem to turn it around when people are open on Sundays.
Mr Agnew: I do not think it will turn it around. It is part of our problem. But at the same time, if you look at the BC experience -- I lived there for three years in the late 1970s -- what is very interesting is that people were still buying their groceries in Bellingham. That was a long time ago.
Mr Fletcher: I remember when I was younger we used to go across the border also.
Mr Agnew: You bet. It was not a booze and cigarette issue.
The Chair: Could Mr Lessard have an opportunity to ask a question as well, Mr Fletcher?
Mr Fletcher: That is fine.
Mr Lessard: You talked about the percentage of people who decided they were going to work on Sunday and the percentage of people who did not want to work on Sunday. I was wondering if you had any sense of the percentage of people who may have felt they were working on Sunday because there was some pressure that they felt. Maybe they were not forced to work, but in their own minds they perceived that if they did not work on Sundays, maybe their employment would be jeopardized. I wondered if you had any sense of anything like that.
Mr Agnew: I personally do not have any sense of it, I think because of part of the situation, as you recall, when the court struck the act. It was certainly very widely publicized about (a) Sunday shopping and (b) the fundamental laws that were in place to forbid forcing anybody to work, plus the fact that the press was a very major player in this equation in terms of roaring around and talking to staff and all this kind of stuff. It was big news back then.
From my perspective, it was not an issue, because we had a corporate policy that was very specific. It had been on the books for years in terms of not forcing people to do things they do not want to do on Sunday, period. It had started out west, because the same issues had come up out in British Columbia in 1980.
Mr Lessard: So you support that provision of the legislation to protect the worker's right to refuse to work on Sunday.
Mr Agnew: Totally. I agree. If that is a concern, then I think you write it into labour legislation. I would also ask you write it into other fields of endeavour, as opposed to just retail. That is another thing we cannot quite figure out, why the great concern about the retail worker, yet there are no provisions for any other type of worker for not having to work on Sunday.
Mr Lessard: What about a provision to pay a bonus for people who work on Sundays?
Mr Agnew: That is fine. I guess that is your prerogative. I think that most companies probably do anyway.
Mr Lessard: Did your company pay a bonus on Sundays?
Mr Agnew: Yes.
Mr Lessard: What was that?
Mr Agnew: We paid them 7 1/2 and they worked five. It worked out to roughly time and a half. We paid them for a full day.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Agnew.
TIP TOP TAILORS
The Chair: Our next presenter is Gordon Edelstone, chairman of Tip Top Tailors. As you have probably observed, we will have a lot of interest in asking you questions, so of your half-hour you could leave some time for committee members. Proceed when you are ready.
Mr Edelstone: Ladies and gentlemen of the committee, as has been said, my name is Gordon Edelstone and I am the chief executive officer of Tip Top Tailors. I have worked for Dylex Ltd, our parent company, for 22 years. I am an executive vice-president of Dylex and serve on the executive committee of the entire corporation.
I am very pleased to have been asked to be present today, because I believe that the consultation process is vital for the health of industry in general and to enable an atmosphere of understanding to develop between government and industry.
If I may take a moment to explain the history of Tip Top Tailors, we are truly part of the fabric of Canadian culture. There is probably hardly a Canadian who has not heard of us. We have been established since 1909, when David Dunkelman, who was a buttonhole maker -- it used to be an honourable profession at that time -- decided to make clothing for a living. He was probably the first in the country to be a vertically integrated unit, having both retail stores and his own factory. The company prospered throughout the years, but eventually foundered when the next generation of Dunkelmans took over around the end of the Second World War and the company was very slow to adapt to the new retailing. Tip Top was bought by Dylex in 1967 and after that has been consistently profitable over the years. The first loss appeared in 1990, and 1991 is also going to be a year of major financial losses.
Tip Top Tailors operates 187 stores in Canada, of which 76 are located in Ontario. We do about $200 million in sales in the whole of Canada and about $65 million of this is in Ontario. In this province we employ 1,112 people, of whom 665 are male and 447 are female. The bulk of our employees are between the ages of 20 and 50, but we do have 10 employees in the province who are between the ages of 70 and 79. Any visit to our stores will clearly show that we are an equal opportunity employer, because we have consistently hired people of every colour and every ethnic background.
Problems began to surface in 1990, when business began to drop consistently with the onset of the recession. As bad as 1990 was, however, things really took a dramatic change for the worse when the GST was introduced on January 1 of this year. In fact, we have some research -- I just received this recently -- that shows that in the first quarter of the year, men between the ages of 35 and 44, which represents the very core of our business, purchased 38% less than they did in the first quarter of the prior year. This is the climate within which we can now discuss Sunday shopping.
It has now become a truism that customers are furious at the federal government for the introduction of the GST and that this has now extended to an anger at all governments. People are only too anxious to revolt in any way they can. When Sunday shopping was stopped in Ontario, we handed these disgruntled customers a perfect vehicle to vent their anger. What started as a trickle of Canadian customers going to the US has now become a torrent. I believe the figure is $2.2 billion being spent across the border, which, by the way, would represent $175 million worth of revenue to the province if it were kept on this side of the border.
Whole families make a practice of going to places like Buffalo every week. I do not believe that many of them go specifically for men's clothing, but when they go to the various outlet malls, like the one in Niagara Falls on Military Trail -- that is on the American side, of course -- there is plenty of clothing there, and once they are in a shopping mode, they can easily pick up a few bargains in shirts, trousers or sweaters.
A law banning Sunday shopping might be a noble attempt at something, but I hope that this committee will recognize that such laws cannot be passed in a vacuum. We are not Albania, capable of putting up a solid wall around the province. As long as people have the right to cross the border and also have the right to take their money across the border, they will do just that if there is a good reason for them to do it.
It has been reported by the media on numerous occasions that some products in the US are absolutely available at 30% to 50% less than they would cost in Canada even after considering paying various duties, which many people do not pay anyway.
We in the clothing industry therefore find ourselves losing all the auxiliary purchases just at a time when we need every penny we can get just to survive.
I hardly need remind the committee that the more we encourage people to shop in the US, the more the public's confidence is undermined in all Canadian retailing, even in those of us who are in an industry that stacks up very well against the Americans.
The government of Ontario has proposed several amendments to the Employment Standards Act, and we support these amendments. We at Tip Top have never forced any employee to work on Sunday and never will. Our employees usually work a maximum of 40 hours a week anyway, so the problem of time off is not one that we are particularly concerned with.
We certainly do have a problem with the whole issue of tourist exemptions, which I heard Mr Agnew talking about. It is inconceivable to me that Toronto's Eaton Centre is magically transformed into a non-tourist attraction, despite the fact that it attracts more tourists than any other single facility in Toronto. Here we have the double whammy of Canadians being induced and given the opportunity to shop on Sunday in the US, while those Americans who come to visit Toronto and visit the Eaton Centre do not have the opportunity to do any shopping here.
I would like to spend a moment talking about the whole idea of Sunday shopping. I have watched people shopping in both Canada and the US on Sunday. Approximately 10 years ago, we had an outlet store on Dufferin Street. The law was not particularly enforced at that time. We used to open on Sunday and we did an extremely successful business. I went there just to see what was happening. I used to marvel at the number of people who came to shop in that store, and believe me they did not look downtrodden. They did not look like they were forced to come. Whole families used to come out together and they would laugh and joke while the suits were being tried on, and we smiled while they were spending the money. These were people who genuinely found it a great convenience to shop on Sunday. These are the very people we are driving away today.
On a personal note, I can tell you that I have three daughters, two of whom are married. The two married ones have full-time, difficult jobs. They truly resent not being able to do their shopping on Sunday, and anyone who tries to tell them they are better off now simply does not understand the reality of modern-day middle and working class life.
Another fact is that shopping today is entertainment for the masses. The malls are safe and they are comfortable. They can also be as cheap as you want them to be. Throngs of people go into malls to buy things they need anyway, and nobody forces them to buy anything else. They love to do it because it is cheaper than taking a whole family to the ball game. Going to a mall you can just buy an ice cream cone for the kids, and in some malls there is even entertainment in the form of rides. Those people who would have you believe that shopping on Sunday is a terrible thing have probably never gone to see the faces of the people who are actually in the malls. They are not suffering.
Now I would like to take a moment to discuss the impact of a company like Tip Top losing money. The first thing that happens is that we stop all capital expenditures because the preservation of cash is paramount at a time like this. We must keep our money in order to survive, because if we spend it and we cannot pay our bills, we will be out of business and then there will be no jobs for anybody.
The first thing that goes by the boards at a time like this is that we stop all renovations on our stores. Obviously we cannot do it for ever, but we can certainly do it for two or three years. Technically, since we say that a store's life is about 10 years, or the fixturing is 10 years, we should be renovating 10% a year in order to maintain the health of our stores. That would be between six and eight stores every year should be renovated in Ontario at a cost of roughly $100 a foot or $350,000 per store. That would be something between $2 million and $2.5 million that we should be spending on renovations that we are not spending now.
I am not sure exactly what proportion of these renovations stay in Ontario, but I think it is safe to say that the bulk of it, almost certainly over 90%, does come from Ontario since the labour is definitely Ontario labour and most of the materials are also local.
We are also not opening any new stores, which would cost the same as renovating an old store except that when we do not open a new store, we do not buy the extra merchandise that would be required for a new store, and obviously we create less employment because we do not need it.
It has been said that some members of the current Ontario government view businessmen as the enemy and do not care whether we lose money or not, that maybe it is a punishment to be down 10%. Let me point out the real danger that I see coming in this province if Canadian retailers become weak. It is clearly an open invitation for an invasion by US retailers. It is no secret that a US retailer trying to enter Canada today will be able to get lower rents from the mall owners than those paid by current tenants. We signed our leases three, four, five and six years ago when business was booming and the malls were completely filled. They had a very strong hand that they were dealing with.
Malls today either have vacancies, and many have 20% vacancies, or they have stores that are occupied but are not paying rent. They are simply allowing them to get away with it because they do not want to have those empty stores facing the public. These mall owners will give drastically lower rents. In fact it is very easy for a US retailer today, or even a Canadian retailer if he were so inclined, to get mall owners to pay all or a major portion of the renovation of the stores. They will not only give drastically lower rents, but they will give other inducements as well to a well-financed retailer.
Something else is not particularly well understood, that most American retailers have already covered the cost of distribution from the two coasts to the points along our border. The incremental cost of distributing to Canada is certainly far less than it costs us to distribute over a 4,500-mile string of land. An American only has to get the merchandise 100 miles farther north from his American warehouse, and he can easily be highly efficient in this distribution.
The same principle applies to the supervision of their stores. They have supervisors in the northern part of the US who can easily cross the border and come and supervise the stores here and return back to the United States in a short period of time, frequently or easily in the same day.
It should also be recognized that it would be very easy for Americans to severely reduce their income tax liability in Canada by charging their Canadian divisions for these various services at higher rates than they actually cost, thereby transferring the profits to the US where they are taxed at a lower rate than in Canada. It is my understanding that the federal government is aware of this threat and that it is expecting a major shake-out of Canadian retailers over the next five years.
At Tip Top Tailors we have a factory that produces virtually all of our suits and sport coats. The factory is located in Ontario on Weston Road right here in Toronto. We had attempted during a previous number of years to manufacture some merchandise in the Dominican Republic under a partnership arrangement, but we concluded that the quality was not to our liking and we are now attempting to manufacture everything ourselves. We are highly efficient and we have approximately 800 employees, all of whom are members of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
If business should slide and we have to cut production by a mere 100 suits a day, which is 16% of the production, our fixed costs due to overhead will go up by between $1 and $2 a unit. As costs go up, Montreal manufacturing and overseas products become more attractive. As more merchandise goes to Montreal, our costs go up again, and I believe that if our production drops by 30% from current levels, our factories' continuance is in jeopardy.
What I have been talking about today is not a nice, friendly, philosophical debate. The livelihoods of hundreds of people are at stake in our company alone, and we are the pre-eminent company in our field. If we are concerned, you can bet your bottom dollar everyone else is even more concerned. I submit that Sunday shopping, while not being the total answer -- I make no claim that everything is going to be solved by having Sunday shopping -- is certainly part of the picture in helping us maintain our profitability. I must emphasize again that our profitability is the only way to guarantee the livelihoods of the people who work for us.
If there are any questions, I will be happy to address them to the best of my ability.
Mr Daigeler: In the handout we received you refer to the fact that, on average, 13% of sales in Tip Top stores that were open on Sundays occurred on Sundays, and then you are saying that in suburban locations this figure reaches 19%.
Mr Edelstone: Yes.
Mr Daigeler: Are these statistics, in your experience, across the province or is it basically the result in this area?
Mr Edelstone: No, that would be across the province. I have to say that the whole issue of what closing on Sunday has meant to us is very difficult to measure because we closed at a time when the recession was bearing in on us. As to how much of the drop in business is because money is going across the border and how much of it is because business turned rotten anyway, there are many factors to that.
Mr Daigeler: In this case I am referring to when you were open. You are saying that you did about 13% of your business of the week on Sundays when they were open.
Mr Edelstone: Yes.
Mr Daigeler: That, you say, was a uniform picture across the province, whether that was Ottawa or wherever you have your stores.
Mr Edelstone: I do not have it broken down, but the differences were really between the suburban and the urban areas, higher in the suburban areas obviously. It is very convenient for families to be able to get to the stores. But yes, these figures were developed by our statistical planning department, so they are accurate.
Mr Daigeler: I am from the Ottawa area and generally the experience there with the Sunday openings was that none of them was too happy. Nobody seemed to be making too much money. If it had lasted, probably they would have closed on their own.
Mr Edelstone: I do not know that I would agree with that. I think what happened was that we gave it a very short experiment. For the first number of months that we were open, a lot of people were not even aware we were open. We are in the business. It is the core of our existence. We understand everything we are doing. There are a lot of people out there who do not care very much about whether we are open or closed and it takes them a while until they recognize that we are open on Sunday.
Certainly, when Sunday is available to them, my belief is that if we had been open for a year or two, Sunday would have become, as it is in the United States, the most productive day of the week. It is only five hours but the most productive per hour. By the way, that is one of the reasons we have never had any difficulty getting people to work on Sunday. Those who have religious convictions were always able to opt out. We never leaned on anybody for that. But many people did like to work on Sunday because it was very productive. A certain amount of their pay comes from commissions and they made money on Sunday. They were very happy to do it.
Essentially, my position is that Sunday is a time when people want to shop. There have been plenty of surveys that show people want to shop. It is convenient for them. My personal experience indicates that Sunday shopping is a very convenient time, not so much for older people like myself, but for younger people with families. They are frantic when they cannot. Fortunately, we have a few ethnic stores in the areas where my daughters are that they are able to go and buy their food and some other products on Sundays, but otherwise they would be desperate.
They come home at 7 o'clock at night on Thursday. They are tired. Yes, the stores are open. They do not feel like going to shop on Thursday night. They are tired and sometimes they have to work until 8 o'clock because they have stressful jobs. Sunday is a perfect time for them and they never felt they were downtrodden because they were shopping on Sunday. It was a perfect time for them to take the kids and the husband. The husband maybe walked around with the children. They went and bought some groceries and a few other things and they thought it was wonderful. That is my personal experience.
I have been involved with 10 stores in Chicago for a number of years and Sunday is exactly the same in Chicago as it is here. People are happy to shop on Sunday. It is a very convenient time for them. The only difference is that we have had more of a tradition in the United States of shopping on Sunday and people are used to it, so it becomes much more important to them.
Mr Daigeler: In the States, are those stores open during the week in the evenings?
Mr Edelstone: Yes, they are.
Mr Daigeler: Until?
Mr Edelstone: Until 9 o'clock. It depends on the mall, 9, 9:30. Usually, I would say 9:30 is the norm.
Mr Carr: Thank you for taking the time to come in and make the presentation out of your busy schedule. I was taken by three things you said. You said the livelihood of hundreds is at stake; that you have no trouble, that people like to work; and that people want to shop on Sundays. They are three statements by the chairman of one of the major retailers, yet the government members seem to be saying they know better than you and in fact, even though you have been in the business a long time, deal with it 24 hours a day, they know best, they know what the people want. What would you say to a government that says in spite of your statements -- because it obviously does not believe them if it proceeds with this legislation -- says it knows more about the industry than you do?
Mr Edelstone: We have a saying in our business that there are good questions and there are excellent questions. An excellent question is one for which you have the answer on the tip of your tongue. I think the public has clearly spoken, that they like Sunday shopping. I would be very happy as a retailer, believe me, if we could go back to shopping from 9 o'clock in the morning on Monday until 6 o'clock at night and be closed on Wednesday afternoon the way they were when I first started in the industry. When I first got out of university I used to travel out here and the stores were always closed on Wednesday afternoon. Some stores did not even open on Saturday. That would be okay with me.
The fact is that the type of life people are leading today -- they need more hours to shop, absolutely. To try to legislate them back to the old ways, even in a partial way, I think is hurting us. As I said before, you might be able to get away with it if you could put a wall around the province, but you cannot, so people are simply saying: "I'm mad at all governments anyway. I need the products. I have the time today. It's convenient for me to shop, therefore I am going to."
It is not particularly pleasant to drive down to Buffalo. I do not know if you have done it, but I used to go once a month when I had some business dealings down there and it is a pain in the neck. But they do it every week.
Mr Carr: Yes, the only good part is that most people from Toronto drive by Oakville so they get to see Oakville on the way through.
Mr Edelstone: Yes, that is a very pretty part.
Mr Poirier: And where are you from, Gary?
Mr Carr: That is one good thing. One of the big concerns the government has, and I think it is a legitimate and a fair one, is about the workers who have to work on Sunday. We have heard from numerous employers who have come through here and said, "It is not in our interest to have employees out on the floor if they are not happy." The government wants to protect them. We have heard most businesses say, "That's fine, let's even work to protect them." In fact, one of the previous speakers said we should do it for other industries as well if we are going to do it for retail workers. What would you say to a government that says, "We have to close because we have to protect the workers?" How are you protecting your workers if you are going to remain open on Sunday? Can it be done and how would you do it?
Mr Edelstone: If we were going to open on Sunday and 80% of the people refused to work, we would have a big problem. It simply does not stack up with the facts. The facts are that there are loads of people out there who are ready to work on Sunday. If they are skiers or golfers, they take a Wednesday off. They can do a lot better with their personal time then. It just is not a problem. For those who are religious it is no problem, they can go to church on Sunday morning. The stores do not open until noon anyway, so I do not see the problem. I hear everything the government has said and I just have to say I do not agree with it.
Mr Mills: Thank you, sir, for being here today and talking to us. I wanted to just let you know that I would do my share to keep you in business. You know what that card is.
Mr Edelstone: Mr Mills, I thank you, my wife thanks you, my children thank you and my grandchildren thank you. Thank you very much. Did you shop recently?
Mr Mills: No, but having said that, I have a peculiar interest in the store in my riding. I go in there and I get to chat with the people. "How are things doing?" and they say, "It's terrible." I say, "Well, what's the problem?" They say, "People haven't got any money." I find it difficult to equate with you that Sunday shopping is going to resolve the problems of the industry when I think that the problems of the industry are the recession and the effects of the GST, because your own people tell me when I go in there to keep them going that no one has any money. Personally I do not quite see the equation between Sunday shopping if people have not got it on Friday.
Having said that, I suppose what worries me, and I applaud you and your company, is that you say you support the amendments to the Employment Standards Act; that you will not force anybody to work who does not want to; that you have a whole group of people who would willingly work on Sunday. My problem, and I would just like to get your comments on that, is that if we have universal open shopping on Sundays, will it not be expected of employers to demand that people work on Sunday? In other words, right now we have so many people who want to work on Sunday, but if it was the norm in all retail, food stores and everything, it would be expected of people to work on Sunday. It is then their right to say, "Well, I don't want to work on Sunday." Would they be able to carry on their life or do you not think that some coercion -- cohesion -- would be put on people that if this --
Mr Sorbara: It is coercion.
Mr Mills: Coercion. I am very sorry, I am not too up on different things.
Mr Poirier: Is English your second language?
Mr Mills: I have a funny accent but you know where I am coming from, that I am frightened that if we did not have this legislation the niceness you have dealing with employees would be really gone and it would be a case of either work or else you are down the road. How do you feel about that?
Mr Edelstone: It is an interesting question, but the fact is that in the west, in Alberta and British Columbia where it has been at least three or four years, it has not been a problem and our experience in the United States is that it is not a problem. There are always enough people floating around ready to work. I have never had anybody come up to me -- and I understand this principle that maybe there is some gentle suasion that they will not be well thought of, that they will not be able to make any progress if they do not co-operate with us. But I think I have a way with our people. Maybe some of them will be cautious, but many of them certainly open up to me and I have never had people come and say, "This is a rotten deal and I don't like it and I don't want to do it," because even those people who work on Sunday generally work every third Sunday. It is not as if they have to work every Sunday. There is enough floating population that they work one and take off two and frequently, certainly around Christmas time, they are clamouring to work every Sunday because it is a very profitable time for them.
I would like to correct an impression you apparently have. I will not state that Sunday shopping is going to be the correction for the ills. There are many things that are wrong and difficult in the industry today. There is a recession on, there is a GST and there is another thing too: my belief is that there has been a fundamental change in people's attitudes towards material things and I think the industry is in for a shake-out regardless. All I am saying is that all these things are happening. It is weakening retailers, and just at a time when we are weak and we need assistance -- and I do not mean weak in that we are making less money than we would like. We are actually losing several million dollars a year and if that keeps up for too long we will not be around. We need every bit of assistance we can get, and every dollar that leaves this province and leaves our stores to be spent in the United States would help us survive and we need that money right now.
Mr Mills: I just want to reinforce that we are here to listen and I am listening and will take note of all you say. Thank you very much for your presentation here.
Mr Edelstone: Thank you very much for hearing me out, and please spend money on that card whenever you can.
Mr Carr: The suit I am wearing is from Tip Top.
Mr Edelstone: This is a winner today.
Mr Carr: I want you to know that when I asked the kids on the front steps who came to visit me for questions, I thought they would ask about health care or education. The first kid put up his hand and said "You've got a nice suit."
Mr Edelstone: That is the best news I have had all week. If I had known I had two customers here I would have brought along a couple of swatches.
ONTARIO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE
The Acting Chair (Mr Cooper): Could we have our next presenter now from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce? We will allow you half an hour. You can divide that any way you want. You can make it a half-hour presentation or a short presentation and open it up for questions and comments. If you would please identify yourself.
Mr Carnegie: My name is Jim Carnegie. I am the executive director of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and as such am serving today as the spokesman for our 168 community organizations representing over 65,000 businesses spread throughout Ontario. It is interesting to note on that comment that over 78% of our members are what would be qualified as small businesses with a heavy emphasis particularly in the retail trade. Our membership encompasses both small entrepreneurs, multinational corporations and retailers in communities throughout Ontario.
When Bill 115 and its companion regulations were introduced on June 4th of 1991, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its constituent community organizations were surprised and somewhat dismayed to read that our organizations had been given responsibility of dealing with an application for exemption under subsection 4(3) of the act. Paragraph 3(1)4 of the regulations made under the Retail Business Holidays Act, tourism criteria, reads as follows:
"If there is a chamber of commerce, a convention and visitors bureau, or a similar organization serving the area being considered, a letter indicating that the organization, or if there is more than one of them, one of those organizations, supports the opening of the retail business establishments in that area on a holiday."
The first note I would add is that in many of the communities throughout Ontario the responsibility for a visitors and convention bureau, while it may be run as a separate entity, is in fact a branch of the chamber of commerce, so we get hit by both sides of that. The other question, of course, is a definition of a "similar organization," and to the best of our knowledge there is no similar organization to the chamber of commerce. We are the only association of our kind in the province which represents the spectrum of business interests rather than the vertical interest groups that are the norm. As a consequence it would appear that particular section relates almost directly and exclusively to our organizations.
I might add that to have that type of information dropped on you from the blue, without any consultation either at the community level or the provincial level, without any suggestion that a rather dramatic change in norm was going to be undertaken, was not taken with great glee. A survey of our community chambers of commerce and boards of trade indicated there was strong opposition to this regulation from our members. Strong opposition is a very kind and polite way of phrasing it -- it actually ran all the way from dismay to shock. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce and its constituent organizations are not now, nor have we any interest in becoming, a quasi-regulatory body either for the government of Ontario or for any municipality, and we certainly have no desire to be perceived as such.
As an aside, Mr Chairman, I would point out that if the government of Ontario would like us to become a regulatory body for business, we would be delighted to accept the responsibility, assuming of course you give us the power to licence businesses so I do not lose all my members in the interim. We are not prepared to accept that particular role nor are we prepared to accept the legal implications that could flow from making these kinds of decisions or, even worse, the legal implications which could flow equally as readily by not participating in the fine line of the act and saying, "No, we won't comment, because we're likely to be subject to exactly the same litigation."
On behalf of our member chambers and boards, we strongly oppose the delegation of authority and ask that chambers of commerce be deleted from paragraph 3(1)4 of the tourism criteria regulation. In doing so, I emphasize again that a number of our visitor and convention bureaus are operated by chambers of commerce and boards of trade and suggest that in the main they probably are no more anxious than we to be subject to this particular section of the act.
In reference to holiday shopping, over a period of time our members' attitudes to the opening of retail establishments on Sundays and holidays has changed, and I think relatively dramatically. Our members adopted the following position in 1988:
1. That the Ontario government recognize the problem of individual municipalities' control over retail business holidays by maintaining uniform provincial legislation.
2. That the Ontario government reinforce Sunday as a common day of rest under the Retail Business Holidays Act and provide guidelines for municipalities for essential service exemptions, including tourism.
3. That the Ontario government be consistent in its legislation on whether or not Sunday is a holiday in both the Retail Business Holidays Act and the Employment Standards Act.
When that position was adopted in 1988, our sense of membership sentiment was that it was virtually evenly divided on the question of whether retail stores should be permitted to open on Sundays and holidays. Our members supported uniform, centralized regulations as they feared the domino effect that could occur if this matter was governed municipally. I think that was a very fair assessment at that time. In fact, many of our organizations were faced with an almost 50-50 dramatic split in their membership support between, for example, groups of downtown merchants and small merchants.
Following the province's flirtation with Sunday shopping, however, we sense a remarkable change in our members' views. While we have not conducted a recent in-depth survey, we believe that our members are still divided on whether they wish to open their businesses on Sunday. We note, however, that there is a distinct change in the attitude as to whether businesses should open on Sundays or holidays. That is to say that our members are now less concerned as to whether someone else opens on Sunday and seem to be coming to the conclusion that it should be up to the individual operator and not a matter of legislation. In support of this conclusion, we offer the following examples.
In April of this year, the Sarnia-Lambton Chamber of Commerce surveyed its members, not to determine if retailers should or should not be open on Sundays but rather to determine what the impacts might be and to see if there was a consensus that could be developed. Based on the results of their survey, the Sarnia-Lambton chamber concluded the following: (a) the loss of the Sunday option for retailers will have a significant impact on the local economy; (b) the majority of the surveyed retailers would prefer not to be open on Sundays; (c) an equal majority of retailers would insist that they should have the right to open on Sunday as opposed to having their hours legislated; and (d) the results would appear not to deviate should the decision be made to have this area come under a tourism designation.
In the next example, in May of this year the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce surveyed its membership on the question of Sunday shopping with the following results: 68% of its members indicated they were in favour of Sunday shopping and 65% said the marketplace should make the decision, not municipal or local governments. In a survey of 342 respondents at the Thunder Bay chamber's trade show, 70% indicated they were in favour of Sunday shopping and 85% believed the marketplace should make the decision.
The board of directors of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce adopted the following motion in June of this year, "That the Kingston Chamber of Commerce believes that retailers in greater Kingston should have the choice to open for business on Sunday." Some of the reasons cited for this motion were as follows: to service the tourist market that expects to be able to shop on Sunday; to be competitive with retail operations in the United States; to eliminate discrimination that currently exists against some categories of merchandisers, namely, fashion, jewellery, footwear and large groceries; to reduce government interference in business; to create new jobs; to provide freedom of choice -- for consumers freedom to shop or not to shop, for retailers freedom to open or close, for workers freedom to work or not to work, for Christians the freedom to worship or not to worship, and for citizens the freedom to organize a family time or to spend time alone; and to allow these choices uniformly across the four municipalities that make up greater Kingston.
To us, these comments from such diverse communities across Ontario indicate a strong support for freedom of choice relative to retail business holiday openings.
Our members also believe that employees are appropriately protected in current legislation in that they are permitted to refuse Sunday work that they consider to be unreasonable and to refuse work that is in contravention of subsection 2(2) of the Retail Business Holidays Act. That is the work on holidays. We do not believe the proposed amendments are necessary or appropriate under those circumstances.
That completes my formal submission. There are a few comments I would like to add.
Again, in discussion with our members there is a growing feeling and a growing recognition of the fact that, ultimately, the marketplace is likely to be the largest determinant as to whether or not it is appropriate for a business to be open on Sunday.
I am sure you have listened, and we have certainly listened, to all kinds of business persons over the last few years. They are all concerned about the bottom line, they are all concerned about the recession, they are all concerned about their ability to survive under the economic conditions of today. The fact is that no business can operate for ever against the marketplace. If you cannot find the employees, Mr Mills, whom you are concerned about, you will not open, because you will not have them if those employees are, as we believe them to be, adequately protected by law. If the demand for your product, services or goods is insufficient, again, you will not be able to afford to be open on those days.
In fact, the growing sentiment among business at this point appears to be that this should be a matter of individual choice and it should be a matter that the marketplace determines to a very large extent.
I thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee. We would be delighted to try and answer any questions there may be in the time remaining.
The Chair: We have about five minutes for each caucus.
Mr Sorbara: Jim, you are suggesting that among the members and the individual surveys they have done there has been a dramatic shift in ground on this issue. Is that your own personal experience as you talk to other chambers around the province in your capacity as executive director?
Mr Carnegie: There is no question about it. As I say, the formal policy of the chamber was established in 1988. At that time, as you may recall, there was a lot of debate on this whole issue and the predecessor legislation. The general attitude at that time was that there was an almost perfect split, exacerbated particularly in those communities where you had a strong downtown business core and it was in direct competition with a newly emerging mall situation, usually in the suburbs. There was a lot of very high emotion at that time and battle lines were drawn pretty strictly.
In the interim, in most cases those malls have now gone into business and they are becoming a little more assimilated. A lot of the emotion has cooled down. Certainly, the individual reaction we are getting, both by survey and by comment -- and, I might add, by phone calls and correspondence to my office -- indicates that the attitude at this point is, "I would prefer that this be an option I can take."
Mr Sorbara: I want to ask you about paragraph 3(1)4 of the draft regulations. That is the section that puts the chamber right in the middle of the decision as to who is and who is not going to open, because as I read this section as a lawyer, an application for an exemption cannot prevail unless there is a letter from the chamber or a similar organization. When we contacted your office basically to inquire about why the chamber would want to undertake this activity, you told us -- and I am telling my colleagues on the committee -- that no one had ever contacted you before this was drafted and no one had ever contacted you since.
Can you tell me and the members of the committee what this sort of responsibility might do to a local chamber of commerce if somehow you were forced to play this role?
Mr Carnegie: There is absolutely no question in my mind whatever that the potential effect of that particular section could result very readily in the bankruptcy or the complete demise of any number of my community organizations.
Mr Sorbara: Why is that?
Mr Carnegie: There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, as I had mentioned to you, there is still some divided opinion. We are a voluntarily funded organization. We are funded by fee membership. One of the quickest ways to lose your member and his consequent fee is to do something he does not like. That goes to both sides, that is, either giving somebody in your competition the right to do business when you do not want him to or, conversely, refusing that right to do business when he wants to. In either case, those sides are going to immediately withdraw their support of the chamber.
The other aspect which concerns us even more is the potential liability that might be faced. If I were a representative of a major corporation and it was my wish to open on Sunday and make application under this act and the chamber did not provide the letter of approval, I am quite sure I could turn my corporate lawyers loose and we could probably come up with a dozen different charges. I may or may not have an opportunity of winning in court, but it would have to be defended and, frankly, the budgets of chambers of commerce are simply not in the position to be faced with that type of expense. I would not even want to contemplate the result should a frivolous action of that nature result in a win for the complainant. This would be just the end of chambers of commerce.
There is no earthly way that the government of Ontario or any other governmental body can abrogate the responsibility of regulation to a voluntary, fee-supported organization, not without guaranteeing that source of fees. This is an absolutely impossible situation.
I must say we were also somewhat shocked and surprised -- as flattering as it is for the chambers to recognize -- to find that the government has said obviously we are the grass roots of the communities in Ontario by putting us in the act, but it is absolutely impossible for any governmental organization to put a regulatory authority on a voluntary organization. It simply cannot result in anything but disaster for us.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for taking the time to do the presentation. I say to my friend Gordon Mills, who sits there listening, you are hearing from the chambers saying they do not want to do this. If nothing else happens, hopefully that will be taken back and very strongly conveyed. They were not consulted. They do not want to do it, and quite frankly I do not think this should be so. I am keeping track, Gordon, of the number of times you said, "We're listening," and I am up to half a dozen now.
I underline that an organization that does not want to do it should not have to do it and, quite frankly, should have been consulted before it was put in there. I will underline that. I think we have engrained that. I suspect we will get a lot of support for any amendment that members of this committee will put in to strike that out for your chambers. One good thing is that it is certainly impressed upon me and I was very shocked at reading that on page 2.
Having said that, one of the questions I have relates to the tourism exemption. Under the guidelines as they are laid out now, do you foresee over the next little while our having complete open Sunday shopping? Do you see it being a patchwork, with some open and some closed? What is your best guess?
Mr Carnegie: My best guesstimate at the moment is that we are going to be into a patchwork situation under this legislation and under anything in the immediate future. I believe firmly, and I think the bulk of my members believe firmly, that on this specific issue ultimately there will be no option but an open option. It was not that long ago that you could not have a ball game, could not go to a movie and could not do anything else on Sunday. Those views are considered archaic today. The fact is -- I know you had testimony previously -- that with the lifestyle today, particularly in Ontario in the face of competition along our borders, everything you look at in that direction tends to suggest that ultimately it is really going to have to be the marketplace that decides. But that is down the pipe.
Mr Carr: You have just underlined in the testimony that this is what your members like, that they are in favour of the market. Even those who may be opposed to it are looking at the numbers. They are saying they might still stay closed.
Say the local shop owner in some town does not have a big staff -- it may be a family business -- and does not want to work. Would you see, if the municipality opened up, the competitive pressures being there to open up?
It seems to me that by some of them saying they do not want to work on Sunday but that they favour that option, indeed some of them might stay closed and a particular individual who is running the store himself may say, "I want Sundays off." Do you see that happening or do you see, because of the competitive pressures which are tremendous out there right now, them saying, "I don't want to work but because my competitor down the street is open I am going to have to open"? What is your best guess of what your members will do?
Mr Carnegie: I think there is no question that there is certainly going to be some initial competitive pressure. Ultimately, there are going to be two deciding factors. One is whether or not it is an economically sound decision, whether they can in fact make a profit out of being open on Sunday. The other one is the particular will of that owner. In many of our communities in Ontario right now -- I happen to know one where I happen to have a summer residence -- it is the practice currently and has been traditionally of a number of the merchants that they still close Wednesday afternoon. That happens to be a time they want to close. That is an independent retailer's opinion and decision. He does it and he does it at his own risk of business.
Those decisions are going to be made as a combination of two things: the practicality of it and the will of the operator. There is no question whatever that in the initial stages, yes, there will be some competitive pressure or even a pressure that says: "I wonder what happens if I do. Does it work?" That is the divergence of opinion.
Mr Carr: There has been a lot of talk about protecting the workers and a lot of the groups have come through and said they can find a lot of workers. What about some of the smaller merchants? Do you think they will be able to find workers who are willing to work on Sunday?
Mr Carnegie: Absolutely. There is an infinite pool of potential workers, and I emphasize "potential." There are many cases in fact, and I can go by personal experience, where one party in a marriage has a full-time responsibility looking after the family, etc, becomes very confined, would like to get out and mix with the public and would also like to earn some pin-money, and would be absolutely delighted. This is where a lot of Thursday help and Saturday help is coming from, and certainly in those places where the stores are open, where a lot of Sunday help is coming from. That is a pool that cannot be tapped or is not tapped generally during the regular work week, so I do not believe there is likely to be a dearth of people available to work, assuming the option is there to have the job.
Mr Fletcher: Just a couple of things: I agree with you that people are changing their attitudes towards Sunday shopping, but the one thing that is remaining constant is that if you turn that question around, "Would you like to work on Sunday?" the figures are constant also; about 70% are saying no. That is one of the reasons the employee protection part of this is in there.
I notice in your brief you were saying that you believe the employees are appropriately protected in the current legislation, which is Bill 114, if I am correct. Let me just read to you what former Liberal MPP Rick Ferraro, who was from Guelph, said in March 1988 when Bill 114 was going through: "You have to work when the business is there. Employees are jeopardizing their jobs by refusing to work. An employer will eventually find someone who is willing to work on Sundays."
That is talking about the Liberal legislation that was introduced and a Liberal person is saying that, that there was no protection.
Mr Carnegie: That would not be the first time I have disagreed with a Liberal.
Mr Fletcher: It would not be the first time I have either. What we are saying is that the protection was not there. That is one of the reasons there is protection, and also because there are about 70% of people who do not want to work on a Sunday. As far as that piece of legislation is concerned, that is why the employment stand had to be reinforced. We have heard from a lot of retailers and a lot of other people that they do not mind that part of the legislation. It seems like the retail industry is still a little split on whether it wishes to open on a Sunday, even from your brief.
Mr Carnegie: There is no question that there is still a great split on that. Again, if you are dealing with human beings, you are going to have varying degrees of moral suasion. The legislation, clearly written, provides that you cannot have job loss as a result of refusal to work on Sunday. The protections do appear to be adequate. I will never guarantee that under the law there will ever be perfection. There will not be, because human beings are involved. But for the vast bulk, as long as the legislation has been designed to do the best it can to protect those who do not wish to do so, I do believe there is a sufficient pool of those who would like to -- in fact are quite anxious to -- take that opportunity. It is not quite the same black-and-white, cut-and-dried situation because you do not have to apply the moral suasion if in fact there is a legal and adequate solution to it.
It is awfully easy to take it to the very letter. The facts are that it is a fairly flexible workforce that we have in this province. We have certainly proven it in the past.
Mr Mills: I have one or two things I want to touch on, time allowing, and I am going to talk fast. Your written brief, I feel, is somewhat misleading. You say you were given the responsibility, and I do not think that in fact you were given the responsibility, to deal with an application. I think it is fair to say that you are known as a potential type of organization to give some support to an application. I know you were not specifically asked to play a role in this legislation, but I do believe that through Tourism, the broad base was touched with the chamber.
Mr Carnegie: Not according to the survey of our members.
Mr Sorbara: On a point of order, Mr Chairman: To accuse another member of Parliament, in Parliament or on this committee, of being misleading is unparliamentary. I think that equally applies where a member accuses a witness before our committee of misleading the committee. I object to that. His language is unparliamentary and inappropriate in this committee.
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, your point is well taken. I am sure Mr Mills would like to rephrase his question. It is not an issue of parliamentary privilege.
Mr Sorbara: It is a point of order under the standing orders, sir.
The Chair: However, it is an issue of hospitality which, as the Chair, I would like to ensure occurs. Perhaps you would reword your question.
Mr Mills: I have no intentions at all. It is just a phrase I used, that you said, sir, you were given the responsibility, and I do not think that is really what was meant.
Mr Carnegie: If the time were different, Mr Mills, perhaps we could debate that at length. I do not think there is any question that the legislation, as it is written, puts a requirement upon us that could in fact put us in a quasi-regulatory authority.
Mr Mills: I would just like to ask the role of the chamber. I spent several years on the council of the city of Barrie and it seemed to me that every night we had a council meeting and -- you probably know the gentleman -- Bob Hollywood was always sitting there. It was customary for the mayor, if something came up, to say, "I wonder what the chamber thinks." Then he would say to Bob, "Bob, would you like to come forward and give your views on this?" So he would come up.
I remember one instance where a bank wanted to put a car in front of its premises on two meters for a month to advertise that it was giving it away. When we dealt with this at council, the mayor said, "Bob, what do you think about this?" He came up and said whatever; I forget now. I think in honesty that when the government formed this legislation it really saw the role of the chamber as I am trying to explain to you, "What do you think?"
I would ask you, Mr Carnegie, what sort of role you see the chamber playing in this tourism criterion or this legislation? Do you see that you are not having anything to do with it, or do you want a say on what happens?
Mr Carnegie: The role of a chamber of commerce is to represent the viewpoint of business. We will be happy to play that role and we will be very happy to participate in any way that is appropriate. It is not our role to be part of a regulatory process. If an application is not accompanied by this letter of authorization, we can only assume the application is incomplete and will not be dealt with. We are very happy to voice our opinions, and, as you pointed out so aptly, we do so.
We are extremely flattered that the government has recognized the role the chamber plays at the grass-roots level, but there is a quantum leap between being recognized as a voice of a community or a collective voice of business and playing a role at a community level, and taking a role as an unwanted regulator.
Mr Mills: I can see that.
CANADIAN TIRE DEALERS' ASSOCIATION
The Chair: Our next presenter is George Hayhurst, who is the president of the George Hayhurst Canadian Tire franchise. Are you speaking on behalf of Canadian Tire, the corporation?
Mr Hayhurst: The Canadian Tire Dealers' Association -- the dealers, not the corporation.
The Chair: Please have a seat. Mr Hayhurst does not have a written submission, but I am sure has some points he would like to make. Then we will have the opportunity to pose questions in the remaining part of the half-hour. Please proceed when you are comfortable.
Mr Hayhurst: I look forward to voicing the opinions of the Canadian Tire Dealers' Association of Ontario. Surprisingly enough, I am here to speak against Sunday shopping as a member of one of Canada's and Ontario's largest retailers, Canadian Tire. I am the owner of one of Canadian Tire's 190 franchise stores in Ontario. While I cannot say that I unequivocally speak for 100% of them on every single issue, I have been their appointed spokesman on this issue for the past three years.
Before I begin with exactly why I am against Sunday shopping, let me say that the most important aspect of any law, and of this particular law, is fairness. Most retailers who want to be open on Sunday do so because they are worried they will lose market share to someone else, who by some quirk of the law is allowed to stay open or who openly defies the law and opens anyway and feels he will not be punished. So far most of them have not been.
This law that will be enacted by the government must make certain that Sunday closing means just that, and that those who violate the law are punished severely enough to make them stay closed. This includes drugstores, nurseries, furniture stores, sporting goods stores; whatever it might be, they all must be closed.
As a businessman, my major objective is to run my business as profitably as I can. While I am against Sunday shopping for many other reasons that can be argued up and down and all over the map, I am mostly against it because it is not profitable for my store to be open on Sunday.
How do I know this? I was open on Sundays from September 1990 until March 1991. While we certainly sold merchandise on Sunday, it was totally at the expense of Saturday sales, with a little bit of Monday sales too. In other words, in almost all of those seven months, sales on Saturday, Sunday and Monday were less than the previous year's Saturday and Sunday total. This was in spite of the fact that almost every Saturday during that period of time, we ran extra-special specials to try to entice our customers into our stores on Saturday so that we would not lose the Saturday business. But it did not seem to matter.
Worse yet was my cost to open on Sundays, because now people had to be brought in to service our customers, people you just could not totally cut from Saturday and Monday. Also, the lights were turned on, the power used, the water used, the cash registers running, cleaners cleaning, computers computing. Management staff, in particular, had to be spread out over seven days instead of six. In other words, my costs went up and my profits went down, and I had a lot of unhappy staff who did not want to work on Sunday, even though they came in as volunteers. It was a scheduling nightmare, with people knowing we could not make them work on Sundays.
So in a purely economic sense, Sunday shopping does not work, at least for most of the Canadian Tire stores in Ontario. I cannot see that we are different from our friends that want to stay open in that regard. What it is all about is market share. If we are all closed or we all are open, may the best marketeer win. The consumer does not have any extra money, so if it is spent on Sunday or Wednesday, it does not matter. He is not going to spend more because we are open on Sundays. He does not have any more. Perhaps, in these times, he has less.
The cross-border shopping issue is not a Sunday shopping issue. It is a price or a service issue. One of my best friends is a small building contractor who has bought many items in my store. When I asked why I had not seen him lately, he said it was simple: he could buy cheaper than even I would sell it to him -- and I give him a special discount -- over in Buffalo. He goes over there usually once a month, mostly on Mondays, because he says it is less busy over there on Monday, less crowded. That is where he buys most of his contracting items. For him, price was the issue. I believe that is why people shop in the United States, not because they are open on Sundays. They go there anyway, and certainly did so between July 1990 and March 1991, when we were open on Sundays. People did not stop going to Buffalo or wherever else it might be on Sunday during that time. They continued to go even though we were all open.
You know the expression, "Try it; you'll like it"? Well, I have tried it. I did not like it. It was just not economically viable for us to open on Sundays. We have proven that, so let's just get on with serving the customers as well as we possibly can six days a week. Really, that is the bulk of my submission. It is not profitable. We have done it, and it does not work.
Mr Daigeler: Thank you very much for this presentation. Quite frankly, it seems to be very different from what we have heard so far from the business community. Even the gentlemen this morning were arguing that Sunday openings have been a big success, financially speaking. The clothing retailers especially seemed to be arguing very strongly that they need this extra day.
Mr Hayhurst: It is very difficult for me to speak for everybody else.
Mr Daigeler: Where do you think that apparent contradiction seems to be coming from?
Mr Hayhurst: Well, I do not know why the Bay, for instance -- I assume that is one of the people you are talking about.
Mr Daigeler: Well, Tip Top Tailors. They are all related; let's put it this way.
Mr Hayhurst: There is a difference between the types of merchandise we sell in terms of the way people will purchase it? I frankly doubt it. The people who have $400 a week take-home pay do not get any more because we are open on Sunday. If they spend it on Sunday, they do not have it to spend on Monday or vice versa.
I have some numbers here which I will give to you. For instance, we would do $52,000 on a Saturday last year. This year we did $42,000, and then the Sunday we did $12,000, but on the Monday we lost another $5,000. That would be a typical scenario of a weekend's business. It would just fall off drastically, particularly on Saturday, but Monday would also be hurt. These fellows who say they are getting back all their business by opening on Sunday -- I do not know what their figures were for the Saturday. We all know that business has been very difficult in the last year anyway, but taking into account the GST and all that, I am still down, and it cost me more money to open on Sundays when we were open.
We certainly had people in the store. In fact, some days it was quite busy in there. But Saturday -- I am sure most of you have been to a Canadian Tire Store on a Saturday. Years ago you would go in there and it was jammed. You could not get in the place.
Mr Sorbara: Awful.
Mr Hayhurst: Well, it is not awful any more. I wish it were awful any more, but, gosh, last Saturday it was pretty slow. But on the Saturdays when we were also open on Sunday, it was deadly. We were sending cashiers home, sending people home. There just was not the business. Obviously, we were trying to balance our Saturday and Sunday staff, but there are certain people and certain items that you just cannot totally replace on a Saturday. You have to have them there both days, particularly the management staff. That is where the difficulty is.
Mr Poirier: I am really confused now after your testimony, because just about everybody else from business has said just the opposite, like the Bi-Way and the other chains and whatever. I am really trying to understand what is happening. Why would Canadian Tire seem, after a number of days of witnesses, to have such a completely different picture from what we have heard from stores similar to yours? I specifically asked questions of owners and whatever, and said -- again, intrigued -- "How can you say that if you open up on Sunday, it makes more economic sense, it lowers your cost per day and Sunday becomes one of your better days?" Of course, you are quite correct that there is only a fixed amount, but if the customer prefers to spend it on Sunday as opposed to a Monday or a Saturday, hey, we cannot tell the customers -- hell, the customer is king. The customer is queen. I would assume that business would want to be sensitive to what the customer wants to do.
I am really confused as to why what you are experiencing is so damned different. I am a regular Canadian Tire customer, my wife works for Canadian Tire, and I am really confused about --
Mr Hayhurst: I cannot honestly speak for the other fellows. Make sure you understand me. I did not say Sunday was a poor day. It was not a poor day. It just watered down the other days, particularly Saturday.
Mr Poirier: Because a lot of them said that Sunday became their better day.
Mr Hayhurst: Oh, no, it certainly was not like that. Typically, when we were open, if we did, say, $60,000 on a Saturday, we might do $18,000 or $19,000 on Sunday. We were open less hours on a Sunday. Usually we would open from 12 to 5 or 11 to 4, whereas on a Saturday we are open from 8:30 to 6. But even on an hourly basis, it certainly was not one of our better days. On an hourly basis, generally speaking, it would still be the slowest day. We promoted it, too.
Mr Sorbara: I am a little bit surprised at the direction of your testimony, because what I extract from it is: "For us, opening on Sunday does not increase the overall profitability of our business, so we prefer not to be open on Sunday. As a result of that, we prefer everyone else not to be open on Sunday."
Mr Hayhurst: That is correct.
Mr Sorbara: I would suggest to you that there are a number of businesses which are not more profitable if they have extended hours, 6 till 9 or 9:30 during the week. For them, opening in those hours is not profitable. They in fact close at 6. They do not stay open the extended hours like so many other stores are staying open, particularly stores downtown. But those businesses are not suggesting that therefore the government bring in legislation so no one can stay open later hours. I am surprised you are saying that because your business cannot be profitable, because you have not been able to find a way to create a vibrant Sunday market that makes your business more profitable, therefore no one should be able to stay open. Should we apply the same sort of thinking to the evening hours, which are becoming an increasing part of the business of Canadian Tire, say, Thursday and Friday night?
Mr Hayhurst: I do not find anybody that closes at 6 except, as you say, the stores downtown. I think they do that because everybody leaves the downtown area to go to the suburbs or go home. I can assure you that if the business was downtown, ie, the people were there, they would stay open.
Mr Sorbara: I can assure you that if the business were there on Sunday, you would stay open.
Mr Hayhurst: The business is there, but it is there at the expense of another day of the week or a couple of other days of the week.
Mr Sorbara: So everyone should close?
Mr Hayhurst: If the law is going to be made, I think I have to stress again that the law has to be uniform in terms of everybody having to close. You cannot have the drugstore open and the furniture store open and tell the department store it has to close.
Mr Sorbara: We agree strongly with you on that. If somebody else is selling tractors and hoses and it is called a "nursery centre" because it is selling plants, that makes your business uncompetitive, and you simply cannot continue to thrive in that kind of market.
Mr Hayhurst: Exactly.
Mr Sorbara: Would you say the preference in Ontario among the broad population is that they not to be able to buy anything on Sunday? Do they want the nurseries closed and the Beckers closed and --
Mr Hayhurst: No. We have been through this before many times, but the preference probably is that people would like to be able to shop on Sunday. I think also the preference is people would not like to work on Sunday. I think we are open 72 hours a week. If you want, let them be open for 144 hours a week, but closed between midnight Saturday and midnight Sunday. Then they have 144 hours a week they can be open. Surely that is enough time for people to buy hoses, clothes, whatever they want to buy.
Mr Sorbara: I will just tell you that in my own very personal case, if the Canadian Tire store was closed once again on Sunday, it was the one store that I did not want to close on Sunday.
Mr Carr: Thank you very much for your presentation. I will be quick and then Mr Murdoch will have a question. Then, if there is any time, I will jump back in.
As a former student, I used to work in Canadian Tire, so I appreciated it. It is a fine store and we wish you all the best.
One of the questions I have -- and correct me if I was wrong -- is that when some of the retailers met with Mr Farnan, the former Solicitor General, Canadian Tire was supportive of Sunday shopping. Has the position changed, or am I wrong that when they met with --
Mr Hayhurst: I am not sure who you were talking about -- "Canadian Tire." If you are talking about the Canadian Tire Corp --
Mr Carr: Yes.
Mr Hayhurst: -- it might be supportive of Sunday shopping, but it does not run any of the stores.
If you are talking about any of the dealers, as I indicated at the beginning of my presentation, I cannot say unequivocally that I speak 100% for all the Canadian Tire dealers in Ontario. I talked, in fact, to two or three of them this morning. Their position, because they knew I was coming, was that yes, they would like to close, but only if everybody were closed. If they are going to allow nurseries to be open, National Sports to be open, that sort of thing, then absolutely those people want to be open too. But as long as the rule is applied fairly, I think the vast majority of them want to be closed.
There will be exceptions. We are all "independent businessmen." We all run our own stores the best way we possibly can in hopes of making the best profit we can. I am sure that over the past couple of years some people have changed their opinions. The fellow who has a store in Fort Erie or in Fort Frances might have a different opinion than the fellow in Lindsay, Ontario. There may be some differences relative to the cross-border shopping situation. Still and all, the vast majority would like to stay closed, but that does not mean 100% are in that direction.
Mr B. Murdoch: To be fair to some of the other large retailers, they have said that if there is going to be a law, then make it a law and close. Some of them would prefer to be open, but they did say if there is going to be a law, that is fine. But there is a consideration in this bill also about the tourist areas. I take it from what you have said that you would like a law on Sunday shopping where there would not be any on Sunday at all, but then what do we do about our small people who are in the tourist areas? I mean, they would not survive. I know that in my area there are small towns and they have little stores there where the tourists buy and Sunday is their biggest day. They definitely would go broke. They just would not have a job. You are saying we should have a law: no Sunday shopping. What do we do with all those people then?
Mr Hayhurst: I am glad I am not in here trying to sort that all out. I realize that is a very difficult issue, trying to sort out the Bracebridges of the world or Huntsvilles or any of those definite tourist areas. I think the solution that maybe they are allowed to open in the summertime is one possible way of doing it. That is a real difficult one and I totally understand where those guys are coming from. When the tourists descend upon Bracebridge in the summer, the guy's got to make hay. I do not know how you get around that.
Mr B. Murdoch: Maybe in a free enterprise country, as we are, we should not be involved in this at all. Governments should not be making the laws about when people can shop. Let the marketplace --
Mr Hayhurst: The government makes laws for everything else, so I do not know why they would not want to get involved in this one.
Mr B. Murdoch: We would sooner see them not involved.
Mr Hayhurst: I cannot give you the answer as to how you handle the tourist situation. We in the group I have been involved with in the last couple of years have been wrestling with that for quite some time and it is a very sticky wicket, as everybody in this room knows.
Mr B. Murdoch: I think the solution would be if we were not involved and the marketplace takes care of itself. That is what free enterprise is all about, and you would compete like everything else. If you felt you had to be open on Sunday you would be and if you did not you would not be. I think that is the only solution, because once you start opening it up like we have in this bill, where people can designate themselves as a tourist area, Windsor I think has already said the whole town is a tourist area, and that is going to happen. We are going to get it piecemeal all over the place.
Mr Hayhurst: Obviously that situation is going to arise. I guess if you are asking me what my answer is, my answer is shut them down and be done with it, because you are not going to satisfy everybody and there is always going to be a problem. If you have to make one law that is absolute and final, then they cannot open in Bracebridge or they cannot open in Fort Frances or they cannot open anywhere on a Sunday, period. I do not think that is likely to be the answer, but if you are asking me my opinion, that is what it is.
Mr Mills: Thank you, sir, for coming here. I am very interested in hearing what you have to say, and I am interested because what this is all about is not Sunday shopping. What we are talking about with this legislation is Sunday working. It seems to have got twisted around. All we hear about is people shop, shop, shop. This legislation is about working. I was very interested to hear you say, sir, that the days you worked when you opened on Sunday, your employees went there of their own free will, they hated it, they did not want to be there and they grumbled.
Mr Sorbara: No, he did not say that at all.
Mr Hayhurst: Let me say it again then.
Mr Mills: I am sure he said that.
Mr Hayhurst: I said the main difficulty is with the management staff. In this day and age, the last year or two when there has been so vast an amount of unemployment, we did not have difficulty getting students to work on Sunday. I suspect if you went back four or five years ago when the shoe was on the other foot and the employees were kind of in charge of the situation when there was virtually no unemployment, we would have had a lot of trouble getting people to work on Sundays, but now the jobs are few and far between. Even so, with my management staff -- I am talking about the people who have to run the store and open it and close it and handle the problems -- that was where the difficulty was, getting them to come in on Sundays and trying to sort them out. They were the ones who were grumbling quite a bit. The students we were able to --
Mr Sorbara: So this bill is to protect the managers.
Mr Hayhurst: No, the other ones were not --
Mr Sorbara: It is the managers.
Mr Hayhurst: The other ones were not overly ecstatic about it, but they came in because when we initially hired them we asked them, "Will you work on Sundays?" We wanted to make certain that we were not going to run into that problem. But like I say, I suggest that three years from now, if the economy turns around and things were like they were in 1986, it is going to be a lot more difficult. People will say, "Thank you very much, I'm not working on Sunday."
Mr Mills: Right. People did not like it. Just to follow that up, sir --
Mr Sorbara: The managers did not like it, I think is what he said.
Mr Mills: No, no.
Mr Hayhurst: Nobody liked it, but the students --
Mr Mills: Nobody liked it, and I can go further. I have a Canadian Tire store near me and I happen to have a friend who works there, and he said that on Sundays they have had to dispense, when they were open, with the ability to return goods because they could not get people to man the desks -- responsible people, full-time people to take on that responsibility.
Mr Sorbara: Offer more pay.
Mr Mills: So I am saying, for the record --
Mr Sorbara: Offer more pay.
Mr Mills: -- that people in Canadian Tire stores did not like to work on Sunday, and that is a fact.
Mr Sorbara: You believe in higher pay. Offer more pay.
Mr Mills: That is a fact.
Mr Sorbara: Offer more pay.
Mr Mills: I would like to go on --
The Chair: Excuse me, we have a witness in front of us, gentlemen. If you wish to have an argument, we can do it later.
Mr Sorbara: My friend Mr Mills is making another speech.
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, Mr Hayhurst is in front of us, and I am sure Mr Mills had another question for him.
Mr Mills: No. I would just like to expand on the Canadian Tire philosophy --
The Chair: Perhaps you could ask Mr Hayhurst to propound on that philosophy.
Mr Mills: -- that the sales that you make on Sunday are slippage from Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. It always puzzles me when I hear the people come in here about retail and making money --
The Chair: Do you have a question, Mr Mills?
Mr Mills: -- that you have $400 or $500 a week to live on, and if you have got to spend it from Monday to Saturday, how the devil have you got extra to spend on Sunday? If you go around Canadian Tire, its parking lots are full and all the other stores are empty. So I am sure, sir, that if your parking lots are full, in my perception, and you cannot make it go, I appreciate that it must be difficult --
The Chair: Do you have a question, Mr Mills?
Mr Mills: It must be difficult for the so-called other people. I thank you for your presentation. I have listened to you and I have made note of all that you had to say, in particular about the people who do not like to work on Sundays. Thank you, sir.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr Mills. Further questions? No? Mr O'Connor.
Mr O'Connor: I think maybe what Mr Mills was trying to get you to share a little bit more with us was the slippage aspect.
The Chair: I am sure you could have done that if he had asked the question.
Mr O'Connor: As a retailer, could you just expand on that a little bit, because I just cannot figure out where the extra money is coming from yet.
Mr Hayhurst: I just understand that when we were basically forced into opening on Sundays last year -- actually, I held off for two months. Some of the stores opened on July 6, I think it was, last year when they were able to, and some did not start until September, and there were a few that did not open at all. There were still a few right in the city of Toronto that did not open at all on Sunday when we were allowed to open there last year.
Basically, what happened was that the Saturdays, where traditionally you do $8,000 or $9,000 an hour, would slip back to $6,000 or $7,000 an hour, and therefore you would be down $20,000, and then you would do $20,000 on Sunday. It seemed to happen that way consistently. The Sunday sales changed a little bit as we got into December. Naturally, they went up a little bit towards Christmas. But we had some Saturdays -- I will give you an example without trying to divulge too much here. The NDP will probably tax us if I tell them how much we did on Saturday.
Mr Poirier: The Minister of Revenue ain't here.
Mr Hayhurst: Oh, good; okay. The day before Christmas in l989 we did $132,000. That same day before Christmas in 1990 we did $86,000. Those were both Saturdays, the day before. It was a huge difference. Here is a Saturday two weeks before Christmas, $85,000 versus $128,000, and then on the Sunday we did $32,000. If you add $85,000 and $32,000 together, I do not think they come to $128,000. They still do not make it, and there are a lot of extra costs involved in opening that Sunday, so my profit is lower.
Mr O'Connor: Who is your major competitor?
Mr Hayhurst: We have many major competitors: Home Hardware, Beaver Lumber, the muffler stores, Sears, Eaton's, Zellers. Depending on what category you are talking about, we have all kinds of major competitors. We do not have one particular competitor, we have many.
Mr O'Connor: So fairness in market share is the --
Mr Hayhurst: Yes. Market share is what we are striving for in each individual category.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Hayhurst. We are adjourned until 1:30 this afternoon.
The committee recessed at 1212.
The committee resumed at 1403.
SOUTH ASIAN ACTION CENTRE
The Chair: I would like to call our committee back to order. Our first presenter is Mr Mohammed Kazim Khan, who represents the South Asian Action Centre.
Because of timing problems, Mr Khan, we are unfortunately limited to a quarter of an hour. Please use that time for your presentation. The members of the committee, I am sure, will have a lot of questions for you, so if we can have some time left over after your presentation of that quarter-hour, it would be appreciated. Feel free to start whenever you wish to, and if you wish some water or whatever, please feel free to get that as well. Go ahead, sir.
Mr Khan: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Mohammed Kazim Khan. I am representing South Asian Action Centre.
South Asian communities consist of people from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Iran. In these countries, Muslims, who are in great numbers, observe Friday as a holy day and Sunday as a working day. Gradually other people started observing Friday as a holiday and Sunday as a working day since they used to live in Muslim-dominated areas, and this became a regular practice. People go to mosque, mandir, temple, or girjaghar on Friday.
When these people came from their country to Canada, they brought their tradition to this country, and all shopping centres belonging to south Asian people used to close on Fridays and open on Sundays, not from today, but from the inception of their business. So far, since all these shops used to close once in a week, it was okay with the law.
Although many times representatives tried to get India Bazaar, situated at Gerrard Street East and Coxwell, recognized as a tourist area, their requests were ignored. This is another sad part of it, that even though India Bazaar is complying with all the requirements to be recognized as a tourist attraction area, it is not graded as a tourist area. This is the best example of hypocritical practice in Canada.
Regarding the proposed Bill 115 part I, subsections 4(6) and (7), which say council shall hold public hearings and council is not required to pass the bylaw even if tourism criteria are met, this is ridiculous. Once a law is passed, a standard is set, and even if somebody fulfils the criteria, still council is not required to recognize it. We feel it is discriminating, and a window is kept purposely so that people like us can be refused, and we cannot do anything further because subsection 4(8) says council's decision is final.
Clause 4(9)(a) and subsection 39eb(2) are also creating trouble for our people in maintaining standards, since any employee can refuse to work on Sunday any number of times and nothing can be done.
We feel that unnecessarily we are forced to forget our culture and accept a Christian culture. Sunday is a holy day for Christians, not for Muslims, and not for any other religion. Thousands of people are working from Monday to Saturday, and then they come to India Bazaar to get their cultural requirements on Sunday.
Passing this bill is illegitimately trying to force that these people should not get south Asian costumes, and then slowly forget the whole culture. We are all against it. This is a planned murder of our culture.
We recommend that through the bill, cultural attraction places should be allowed to open for seven days automatically and no fees or taxes should be charged to penalize for maintaining cultural needs. No steps should be taken to instigate employees to avoid Sunday working.
Thank you very much.
Mr Daigeler: Thank you for your presentation. I notice that you indicate, rightfully so, that Friday is a significant holiday for Muslims, but you are arguing, really, for seven days' open shopping. Could you tell me what the current practice is in the Muslim religion with regard to Friday? You would work on Friday as well?
Mr Khan: Those people who want to go to mosque, who want to strictly observe religion, have to go to Friday prayers at one centre, which is the closest one. They have to go there. It takes about one hour for praying or something, and that is why many people close on Friday.
Mr Daigeler: So the majority of Muslim operators would be closed on Friday, so that would not necessarily be the same as what you are arguing. You are arguing for seven days open that would include Fridays. What I am trying to get at is that you seem to be arguing from a commercial perspective rather than from a religious perspective or a cultural perspective, because if you are coming from a cultural perspective, I think you should say, "Well, we should have the right to be closed on Fridays."
Mr Khan: Okay. If it is closed on Fridays, then all the Muslims can go, and even if it is open for seven days, routinely people can be given off and they can take this thing. And those people who do not want to go to mosque, they can come to work, so it should be kept open for the people who want to go on Friday. But it should not be complied that they should close on Friday since it is fulfilling the tourist needs.
Mr Sorbara: I am sorry I did not hear all of the presentation but I agree strongly with your view that to suggest that Sunday be the common day of pause is for a significant portion of the Ontario population somewhat of an affront and somewhat, might I go so far as to say, an insult.
I also think you make an extremely good point in the second last paragraph of your submission where you criticize that portion of the bill that says a council can refuse to grant an exemption even after a public hearing has voted in favour of it. But would you not agree with me that the best way of dealing with this is simply to invite the province, through this committee, to stop trying to pick the winners and losers on Sunday shopping and allow those storekeepers who look forward to opening on Sunday to open on Sunday without further administrative or bureaucratic burden?
Mr Khan: As I say, the law is already enforced. I do agree with you that it is bad without taking the public hearing. It was already in force. People who are opening on Sunday are getting a ticket, even though they have been opening for the last 20 years, since the inception of India Bazaar. People used to open on Sunday and close on Friday. Now they are getting a ticket and a summons. I do agree that it is a hypocrisy.
Mr Sorbara: That is a special burden on them, because for religious reasons they do not have enough time in their day to maintain their stores open on Sunday. Is that not the case?
Mr Khan: Exactly, yes.
Mr Sorbara: And so they have to close two days while other stores are closed one day, and even other stores do not have to close any days because of the tourist exemption.
Mr Khan: Exactly.
Mr Sorbara: Would you describe that as a fair and equitable system?
Mr Khan: I would not. Also I would like to say that suddenly the people from south Asian countries face a ban that they cannot do their shopping because the stores are closed.
Mr Sorbara: Would you say that the proposal that the government --
The Chair: Mr Sorbara, I am sorry. Mr Carr and Mr Murdoch.
Mr Sorbara: You caught me in midsentence. Congratulations.
The Chair: You actually had a couple of minutes more.
Mr Sorbara: I just wanted to ask you whether you would think that the bill the government is proposing is consistent with its views about equity and fairness to all Ontarians that it is trying to achieve in other of its programs. We talk about equity as between different peoples --
Mr Khan: Through the bill we are not getting equality. That is why we are here.
Mr Carr: I was just wondering, with some of the businesses that you say are closed on Friday, presumably some of them are open. Would they be getting people who are not of the Muslim faith to work Friday or do they have some --
Mr Khan: Yes, or those people who are not very strict in their religion. They can be employed. If they have employees, they would choose to work on Friday.
Mr Carr: Is it a large percentage that would still close on Friday, or is it that because of economic necessity they have opened, or is it pretty much adhered to that they will not open on a Friday?
Mr Khan: The larger number want it open.
Mr Carr: On a Friday.
Mr Khan: The customer and the public want it open.
Mr Carr: So even if you were an owner and wanted to take the day off, they would get somebody who is non-Muslim to work or whatever and then they would go and somebody else would work during that day.
Mr Khan: Yes.
Mr Carr: That is much easier to do than it is with Sunday shopping where there is --
Mr Khan: Yes, it is much easier.
Mr Carr: Yes, because you have a vast majority of the population that would be prepared to work on Friday.
Mr Fletcher: I agree with your statement and presentation. If this government were bringing in this law strictly on religious grounds, I would be in full agreement, but we are not. I think the thrust of this legislation is one purpose, and that is to protect working people. That is why changes have been made. I do not think it has anything to do with the way this government treats any group of people. It is a blanket piece of legislation and, as I say, the major thrust is to protect working people. I think that is why the common pause day is the piece of legislation it is. I know you do not see it that way, but I know that is what the ministers said when they were here. It is to protect tourism and working people, and that is the major thrust of it. It is not on religious grounds or cultural grounds that this law has been made.
Mr Khan: I am sorry, I did not get your question. Can you put it in simple words?
Mr Fletcher: It was not a question; it was a statement.
The Chair: Do you have a question?
Mr Fletcher: No. I was just making a statement on that.
Mr Lessard: Do you agree in principle with the concept of a common pause day; that is, having the right of employees not to work on one particular day of the week?
Mr Khan: I do not agree. That is what I mentioned in the bill under clause 4(9)(a) and subsection 39eb(2).
Mr Lessard: Your objection, as I understand it, is that there should not be a right to refuse to work on Sunday because your religion observes a different day. That is what I am asking, whether you agree that people should at least have one day, even though that day might not be Sunday. Maybe you would have a different day. Do you think people should have that right to have a day off?
Mr Khan: One rule cannot made for everybody. There are different types of people, people of different opinions, people of different religions. Some people are religious.They have to do certain things to belong to the religion, but still they do not follow the religion; like, they have to meet the relatives on Friday, even though they do not go to prayer. So there should not be one day it should be closed.
Mr Lessard: But you do not think employees should have a right to refuse to work on Friday, for example?
Mr Khan: No, I do not agree with that. If the establishment is open for seven days, somebody has to work on that day. Yes, once or twice, it is okay, they can refuse, but not for any number of days. That is what I say.
Mr Lessard: Not one day a week. They should not be able to refuse at least one day a week.
Mr Khan: No.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr Khan. It was a very interesting presentation.
Mr Khan: I think some of the committee have some questions.
The Chair: No, we have run out of time, unfortunately. We have people waiting. Thank you very much for your presentation.
The Chair: We have a representative now from Corso Shoes. You have basically seen what the process is. Could you identify yourself.
Mr Ferri: My name is Vince Ferri and I am the operator and owner of a shoe store in the Beaches area.
The Chair: As you know, you have a quarter-hour for your presentation and, as you have seen, committee members will have a number of questions for you, I am sure. Please feel free to start when you wish.
Mr Ferri: I have been the operator and owner of a small family shoe store in the Beaches area. We became a victim of circumstances through the Sunday shopping situation where we are in an area that is a tourist area but not designated. Unfortunately, in the last six years we have been getting charged on a regular basis and made to feel like criminals, even though we are only trying to survive. It is a vital situation to us.
During the nine months we had Sunday shopping, it seemed we never had any people coming in to protest that we were doing something wrong or they could not spend time with their families. On the other hand, we found that families were coming in with their children where we provide a service for them and it seemed to be a leisure time for them to enjoy shopping and be together for the first time.
My point is there seems to be a sense of discrimination, where I have been caught in a situation where I am in a tourist area but not designated. On the other hand, retail seems to be the only sector where you cannot work Sundays. If I were to get a job at Harbourfront or Chinatown, I could work Sundays. That would be fine.
Shoppers Drug Mart, for example, can sell shoes on Sunday and we cannot. I have been informed recently that we would be able to sell shoes on Sundays by obtaining the front space of a store. A vendor permit allows us to get tables outside and put shoes on it and sell them, but not by opening the door to the public. I question this a lot. I would like to perhaps get some answers if it is possible, whether we are really doing something totally wrong here or we are only trying to survive and bring food to our tables if we can.
Nine months' Sunday shopping means we bought much more inventory than previous years. We are stuck with this inventory now. We do not know how to turn it over, and it seems that we are still getting charged. There does not seem to be any changes, and we were never notified six months before the new legislation came into effect. We were never told, "Come January, the new legislation will change and that means you are going to have to close and we ask you to buy less inventory or play accordingly." That came within two weeks' time, basically, and we had to take the consequences.
That is basically what I have to say, that it seems the government would rather see us collecting welfare than operate a small family shoe store. This consists of 800 square feet and is based on a husband, wife and son operation. If anyone can give me some answers, anything, I would appreciate that.
Mr Sorbara: Sir, have you ever gone to the Chinatown area, the Dundas-Spadina area on a Sunday?
Mr Ferri: Yes, I have.
Mr Sorbara: Would it surprise you if I were to tell you that the vast majority of people who are shopping down on Dundas in the Spadina area on Sunday are typically Chinese Canadian residents who live somewhere else in Metropolitan Toronto? Would that surprise you?
Mr Ferri: No, it would not surprise me, but that would not take away my right for me to shop down in Chinatown if I wanted to or to work in Chinatown if I wanted to.
Mr Sorbara: So you would agree with me then that the vast majority of people who are shopping in the Chinatown area on Sunday are certainly not tourists; they are just typical Ontario residents who like to go down there on Sunday.
Mr Ferri: Yes, I would have to agree with you.
Mr Sorbara: Are you asking from this government anything more than the right to be able to run your store when you want to run your store and how you want to run your store?
Mr Ferri: Yes. At the same time I would like to ask this government simply to leave up to us when we think it is fair to take the common pause day and spend that day with our family. Whether it will be Monday or Tuesday, we should be entitled to that, rather than taking away our business just to say, "We want you to stay closed on Sunday, regardless of what happens."
Mr Sorbara: Is that the view of most of the other retailers in the Beaches area?
Mr Ferri: In the Beaches, there are over 200 stores in operation. There are only about 10 stores that are practically closed on Sundays. The stores are closing down because of the Sunday shopping. They are being replaced with so-called handicraft. There is such a confusion in the law about this. Officers who come down and charge us on a regular basis cannot identify what handicraft is all about. We have been trying to get informed in this and it seems that it is legal to sell any briefcase that comes from South America, but a pair of shoes simply made --
Mr Sorbara: A pair of shoes made in Canada cannot compete.
Mr Ferri: -- cannot compete with that, or a belt that is made here. So there has been a confusion, and not even the officers themselves can seem to answer the questions. They have been coming down and sitting with us. They are totally lost, not knowing what they are doing.
Mr Sorbara: I take it that you belong to associations and have an association with a number of other shoe store operators in the province. Is that the case?
Mr Ferri: Yes, we do.
Mr Sorbara: Is it their view as well that they should be able to manage their stores and open their stores when they see fit?
Mr Ferri: I firmly believe that no one should be forced to work on Sundays or vice versa, but I do believe that if it is vital in the matter where it is a family operation and such a small store, we are not forcing anyone to work. We are not saying you have to work, by all means, or we are not asking the shoppers who come and shop either. It was their consent, it was their approval, it was their vote that they want us to be open. That is why they come down. That is why they are there to shop.
Mr Sorbara: Can you just describe to the committee what happens when the police officer comes into your store on Sunday to charge you? Is he excited about the notion that he has apprehended a violent criminal or a serious criminal in Ontario?
Mr Ferri: Basically, this is what happens. They have a list of names of the stores they regularly see every Sunday, and if anybody else has been there for the last two or three months, recently opened, they do not even look at the stores. So they have maybe 10 or 15 stores that are regularly open Sundays and trying to survive, and these are the ones. They have a list in the divisions and they come down and that is what they do.
Mr Sorbara: So you are saying they just work on a list of regular violators rather than actually find out who is open in violation of the law.
Mr Ferri: That is right, yes.
Mr Sorbara: That is interesting.
Mr Carr: Than you for taking the time away from your business to come down here and present. I appreciate it very much.
One of the concerns had been with regard to employees and how that would be handled. How many employees do you have and how do you handle that with them so that they do not have to work if somebody, for religious reasons or whatever, does not want to work on Sunday? How do you handle that with your staff? Would you hire new people? Would you work it out with them? Would you force them to work? How many do you presently employ and how would you work that out if Sunday shopping was allowed?
Mr Ferri: As I said earlier, it is a family operation, so it is strictly family, but we did have part-timers coming in. These were students who really wanted to work on Sundays so they could make some money for their tuition for school and education and so on. There seems to be such a drawback coming in on a regular basis: "Can we work, can we work?" Unfortunately, we cannot open. If we stay open, we get charged and we do not know what these charges will be like. We are getting charged, but we do not know yet. They could be very stiff fines. The store volume is very little. For example, if we make $1,000 in a day and we get charged $5,000, you are talking about -- so this is one of the reasons we are so off balance.
I believe that during the week we do give days off. Rather, it is Monday or Tuesday. On the other hand, Sundays we never open in the morning; we work from one to five. These are the hours. So anyone who practises his religion does have time to go to church or to do whatever he does.
So this is an afternoon basically together. We find that it is entertaining and leisure for a family to be able to shop. If they can drink on Sunday, if they can gamble on Sunday at the racetrack, if they can do just about anything else -- when I say drinking, they can practically drink on the sidewalks and the patio. Kids are being exposed to that. You tell me if there is something wrong with buying a pair of children's shoes? Can you honestly say there could be something wrong with that?
Mr Sorbara: You want them to vote with their feet.
Mr B. Murdoch: How many square feet would your store be, then?
Mr Ferri: It is 850 square feet.
Mr B. Murdoch: Is there no way you could have your area designated as a tourist area?
Mr Ferri: We are going through an application. The business improvement area has applied, but unfortunately in the last six years it has not seemed that we are getting anywhere. We do meet the criteria and everything else, but again, I think that is discriminating, if someone can work in the Beaches, even though I have that particular case, and not work in Agincourt and not work in different parts of Toronto.
Mr B. Murdoch: Yes, I hear what you are saying there. To solve your immediate problem, have you paid any of these fines they levy?
Mr Ferri: We have paid a few of them and we have a few coming up now.
Mr B. Murdoch: What do they run?
Mr Ferri: They vary from $200, before to $500. Last year we had three or four fines which were indefinitely dismissed by the judge, after nine months' Sunday shopping. They came up again now in May and these fines consist of $2,000 each, which I am facing now.
Mr B. Murdoch: I just wanted to know that. Okay.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for being here today. How many employees do you have?
Mr Ferri: It is husband and wife, and son part-time. We have one full-time.
Mr Fletcher: You said you belong to certain associations and groups. Are you a member of the Canadian Shoe Retailers' Association?
Mr Ferri: Yes, we are.
Mr Fletcher: So you are familiar with their stand on Sunday shopping and the surveys they have done.
Mr Ferri: I am familiar with their standards, yes.
Mr Fletcher: We had Sharon Maloney, who is the president of that association, testifying a couple of days ago that the Canadian Shoe Retailers' Association is against Sunday shopping and Sunday working.
Mr Ferri: I do not think she is familiar with my particular case, though. I think she is -- I heard her comments about it, yes.
Mr Fletcher: You do not agree with their stand on that.
Mr Ferri: No, I do not, in my particular case. In general, we find it has never been any problem. There are more people upset now after the non-Sunday shopping than there were before. There was never protesting; there was never any people complaining about that. I find it hard to believe that everything seemed to be so smooth, then all of a sudden it is discriminating because everybody else can work on Sundays, any lawyer can work, a doctor can work, a taxi driver and everybody else, practically, except the retailer. He should have a choice.
Mr Fletcher: Is there anyone else who has questions here? As far as the legislation is concerned, it does not say they cannot work on Sunday.
Mr Ferri: It does not say they cannot work?
Mr Fletcher: No.
Mr Ferri: But they could work at Harbourfront or Chinatown.
Mr Fletcher: If they are applying for a job, and they work Sunday, they have the right to work Sunday. But they also have the right to refuse Sunday. It is not one or the other, it is both. People are free to work. All that is really holding you up right now is the tourist designation. Is that right? So really there is nothing wrong with the law except maybe the tourist --
Mr Ferri: No. What I see wrong with the law right now is, first of all, as you see the tourist designations. If we were to get the tourist designation I will be one of the fortunate ones, perhaps, to survive. Without the Sundays I cannot survive. I do not have much time left. Whether it would gel with it or close down, one or the other. My business is 30% to 35% done on Sundays. Basically the strongest days of the week are Saturday and Sunday. That is when we get the most traffic.
Mr Fletcher: What about Monday and Tuesday?
Mr Ferri: They are very quiet. I would rather close Monday, if I had to choose a common pause day. It should be up to us to choose.
Mr Fletcher: So you are not really opposed to a common pause day?
Mr Ferri: No, I am not.
Mr Fletcher: And you are not opposed to people having the right to refuse to work on a Sunday?
Mr Ferri: No, I am not opposed to that either.
Mr Fletcher: So what it really comes down to is the tourist designation.
Mr Ferri: Tourist designations, and the choice of people who want to work on Sundays should be allowed.
Mr Fletcher: The people have that right to work if they want to.
Mr Ferri: But how can they work if the stores are not open?
Mr Fletcher: Is that my time?
The Chair: Thank you very much, sir, a very interesting presentation.
LABOUR COUNCIL OF METROPOLITAN
TORONTO AND YORK REGION
The Chair: We now have a presentation from the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto. Good afternoon. We have about half an hour, and you can divide that time any way you wish to. Typically, it is about half for your presentation and half for questions. I am sure many of the committee members will have questions for you. Before you start, and please do so when you feel comfortable, would you please give your name into the microphone.
Ms Wall: My name is Brenda Wall and I am executive assistant to the president of the Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto and York Region. I had hoped today that an executive board member, Brother Jay Nair, from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union-Canada, would be with me, but at the last minute he was unable to do so.
I would like to just read through our presentation which as you see will be very much in support of what the United Food and Commercial Workers brief was as well.
The Labour Council of Metropolitan Toronto and York Region is pleased to have an opportunity to appear before the standing committee on administration of justice to present our views on this very important matter of Sunday shopping and working.
I should apologize that our president, Linda Torney, is on vacation at the present time and could not be available for these hearings, but she sends her greetings and her message through this deputation.
We represent over 180,000 members in 400 union locals throughout Metro and York region, and as such we are one of the four largest central union bodies in Canada. One of our major affiliates in this region is the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, and we fully support their efforts and views with regard to this issue of Sunday shopping and working.
We appreciate the government's action in bringing forward legislation aimed at establishing and enshrining a common pause day in Ontario and placing restrictions on both Sunday shopping and Sunday work. However, although an important step forward, the proposed legislation does not yet guarantee a common pause day for workers and their families in Ontario.
Our main concerns are similar to those expressed by our affiliate, UFCW, and they are the intent of the Retail Business Holidays Act; the municipal option; drugstore openings on Sundays; enforcement of the legislation, and the definition of a "retail business."
In this presentation we will put forward our labour council's views on these and other concerns related to this issue. Our primary message to the standing committee on administration of justice is to listen to the voice of the workers and families who will be most affected by these decisions around Sunday shopping and working, namely, the United Food and Commercial Workers.
First, the intent of the Retail Business Holidays Act: We are pleased that the proposed legislation includes the recognition of the need for and importance of a common pause day; it represents an important step forward for workers and citizens in Ontario. However, the wording put forward around the common pause day principle is not strong enough, in our opinion.
In the proposed amendment to subsection 4(2), it says, "The council in passing a bylaw under subsection (1) shall take into account the principle that holidays should be maintained as common pause days." This wording is far too general and would not ensure that the intent of the RBHA is consistently followed.
Instead, we would like to see the wording strengthened and the amendment to subsection 4(2) regarding municipal powers to read as follows:
"The council, in passing a bylaw under subsection (1), must maintain the principle that holidays are to remain as a common pause day; that is, to ensure that they remain days on which most businesses are not open; days on which most persons do not have to work."
The legislation implemented by the previous Liberal government provides that municipalities have full control over the decision to allow stores to open on Sundays or other holidays. However, in this way the will of individual municipal councils predominates; there are no regulations, no criteria and no principles to guide them in the making of decisions. In this kind of system, the government has no way of stopping wide-open Sunday shopping and working.
In the proposed amendment, the decision-making process would remain in the hands of municipalities, and regulations and criteria of the tourist exemption are set out in sections 1 and 2 and subsection 4(1). These exemptions are so broad as to effectively restrict no one. We believe the amendments as proposed would lead to wide-open Sunday shopping and working.
We recommend that a new set of viable tourist criteria, regulations, be established by the affected stakeholders, including representatives of retailers, unions and government. Our full recommendation is as follows. In our view, the recreational, entertainment and cultural pursuits of tourists, as well as the goal of enshrining the common pause day, can both be accommodated by the law. To accomplish this, we recommend it be changed to reflect the following:
The new subsection 4(1) to read:
"Notwithstanding section 2 and subject to the provisions of clauses 4(1)(a) and 4(1)(b) below, the council of a municipality may by bylaw permit retail business establishments in the municipality to be open on holidays where it is essential to meet the educational, cultural, leisure and recreational needs of the tourist; and,
"(a) only retail business establishments in which the total area used for serving the public or for selling or displaying to the public in the establishment is less than 4,000 square feet; and,
"(b) the number of persons engaged in the service of the public in the establishment does not exceed four."
The government must establish a committee of the affected stakeholders that will prepare and recommend a new set of viable tourist criteria, regulations. The stakeholders should include, as we said, the retailers, unions and government.
According to the amendment, the tourist criteria as proposed would not form part of the legislation. However, we recommend a new set of viable regulations established by the stakeholders mentioned above be integrated into the legislation.
Subsection 4(8) must be modified to state, "The council's decision may be appealed by any interested party to the tourist exemption board."
Third, drugstore openings on Sundays: Under current legislation, drugstores must dispense drugs and the principle business must be the sale of goods of a pharmaceutical or therapeutic nature for hygienic or cosmetic purposes. No other goods are allowed for sale with the exception of sundries. However, in many cases up to 80% of sales in these stores consist of products of a non-pharmaceutical nature. The system is being abused and we are asking for actions which will prevent this abuse.
To compound the problem, the absence of a restriction on the number of employees working on a Sunday or holidays allows some drugstores to dedicate extra help for the benefit of sales of these non-pharmaceutical products.
The UFCW and the labour movement are very concerned about these practices, and we recommend the following changes to clauses 3(2)(c) and 3(2)(d) of the present act be amended to read as follows:
"The total area used for serving the public or for selling or displaying to the public in the establishment is less than 2,400 square feet.
"The number of persons engaged in the service of the public in the establishment does not at any time exceed four, including the pharmacist, who must be present in the establishment during business hours."
In the Metro Toronto area, for example, there are currently many drugstores with a square footage of 2,400 or less that provide ample opportunity for the local population to receive needed medication or other prescription products, particularly in cases of emergencies.
The real reason for drugstores to remain open on Sundays is to allow the population the opportunity to fill prescriptions and have access to needed medication. We believe this recommendation accommodates this most basic need without allowing the abuses of the current system to continue. When we talk about the abuses, we are talking about stores that are open and really function as supermarkets rather than as drugstores for the needs of the population. Many of their sales are for goods that are available in regular kinds of supermarkets, and we want to restrict this kind of activity.
Enforcement of the legislation: At the present time the act provides for maximum fines of $50,000 upon conviction for illegal Sunday openings, and municipalities or the Attorney General of Ontario can apply to the Supreme Court of Ontario for an injunction to close an establishment that is opening illegally. What is difficult to comprehend is that there are no minimum fines.
The labour council supports the principle of a minimum fine. The fines proposed under the suggested amendments, however, are far too low. The amount of the proposed minimum fines, $500 for the first offence and $2,000 for the second offence, will in no way deter retailers from opening on Sundays.
Under the proposed legislation, too, there will be no change with regard to who can apply for an injunction. Hence, there remains the same problem of little enforcement and no action taken against offenders continuing. Therefore, we recommend the following.
The proposed amendment of the minimum penalty be modified to include, "For first offences, the minimum fine for conviction be $10,000 and for subsequent offences, the minimum fine for conviction be $20,000."
Subsection 8(1) to be amended to read, "Upon the application to the Supreme Court by any affected or interested party, the court may order that a retail business establishment close on a holiday to ensure compliance with this act or regulation under this act."
Fifth, the definition of a "retail business." Under the current act there is a problem regarding the definition of a "retail business." As a result, giant stores in the guise of membership clubs, such as price clubs, are allowed to open on Sundays. The proposed amendments do not deal with this problem and, as a result, club warehouses could continue to operate on Sundays.
To prevent circumvention of the act by establishments such as price clubs, clauses 1(1)(b), 1(1)(c) and 1(1)(d) of the present act should be amended to read as follows:
"(b) `Retail business' means the selling of goods or services by retail to any member of the public, including a member of the club or co-operative or any other group of consumers.
"(c) `Retail business establishment' means the premises where a retail business is carried on. Any space or stall in markets, particularly in covered markets and `flea markets,' shall be considered to be a retail business.
"(d) `Principal business' means that portion of business which accounts for 80% of the retail business establishment's gross sales."
General comments: Our labour council is very concerned that this issue be treated separately from the whole issue of cross-border shopping. Sunday shopping and working has nothing to do with cross-border shopping in our view. In Ontario as elsewhere, Canadians are going to the United States in record numbers. This is happening in provinces which have had Sunday shopping and working for several years; for example, British Columbia.
The reasons for the rapid growth in cross-border shopping are many and varied. However, they are mostly related to federal Tory economic policies, including the high level of the Canadian dollar, high taxes, the introduction of the GST, the promise of cheaper goods and easier border transit put forward by the federal government to boost the Canada-US free trade agreement, and reduced confidence in Canada because of Tory policies.
As well, Canada has been hit by a serious recession with many thousands of workers being thrown out of work because of the free trade agreement. This has obviously affected people's ability to afford the basic necessities of life. Wide-open Sunday shopping and working will therefore not solve the problem of cross-border shopping.
Second, there should not be a confusion between the establishment of a common pause day and the development of tourism. With the acceptance of the above recommendations, we believe that the recreational, entertainment and cultural needs of tourists can be met quite well without allowing wide-open Sunday shopping and working.
In conclusion, the most important principle for us is the principle of a common pause day for workers and their families. The UFCW estimates that just by counting their members and families, two million people in Ontario would be affected by Sunday shopping and working. If we add to this the many thousands of workers in other establishments who are members of our affiliated unions, we represent a major part of the population in this province.
As an important community within this region and within this province, we would ask that labour's views on this issue be listened to very carefully.
The amendments proposed by the Ontario government are a step in the right direction. However, in our view they would fail to ensure that the goal of a common pause day is met, and in fact would jeopardize its realization for workers and their families and the general population of this province.
We are asking that you accept the recommendations put forward in this brief, for we believe that by doing so you would be enhancing the lives of workers and their families and at the same time enshrining the important principle and practice of a common pause day in Ontario.
Mr Daigeler: We had several witnesses come before us and say quite strongly, "I have the right to work on Sunday and I should be able to work on Sunday." I must say I personally was a little surprised at that, but that seems to be the direction in which we are moving in North American society, knowing that in Europe, perhaps before the recession, the debate was mostly on shortening the workweek. There has been tremendous debate to have a 35-hour workweek rather than the 40-hour or more workweek. Are you aware from your labour context, whether there is any effort to reduce the workweek? Is that one of your goals, the hours to be worked by the workers?
Ms Wall: As you know, we are a central body, and for many of our unions, of course, this is something they have been trying to negotiate for many years. But that is not at the expense of current jobs and not at the expense of a living wage. Recently employers have given in to unions that have negotiated fewer hours on the basis of extending the work in different plants and so on, extending the shifts and those kinds of ideas. So yes, it is still a principle of having more time for leisure and a lesser-burdened workweek.
Mr Daigeler: But you would not say it is a key labour demand at the present time.
Ms Wall: It is one of the labour demands but we do not want, instead, thousands of part-time jobs where people do not have the opportunity to make a decent living. That is unfortunately what has happened. In the recession of 1981-82, many thousands of workers lost their jobs. By 1988-89, we had this so-called full employment in Toronto, 3.8% unemployment, that disguised the record numbers of part-time, low-wage work in Toronto.
That is not talking about people who work in unionized establishments, including food establishments and retail establishments. That means those who are in the McDonald's type of establishment or the so-called high-tech, which is low-wage office sector. Those are the jobs that are not well paid, that are part-time and are exploitative for many women in this region.
Yes, it is a general principle, but we want to make sure first of all that there is full employment, that there is quality employment and that people are working in decent conditions. If they are not forced to work on Sundays and even if you say we can have, as has been suggested, legislation around right to refuse work on Sundays, that is still a difficulty because there are all kinds of intimidation tactics employers use at this point to coerce people into working. That is not a complete answer either. The answer is to enshrine the common pause day and make sure everybody has that right.
Mr Sorbara: I have a brief series of questions. You say you have 180,000 members. Of those 180,000 members, how many would be involved in the retail sector, approximately?
Ms Wall: I do not have the figures exactly in this region.
Mr Sorbara: Ballpark?
Ms Wall: Ballpark figure? Let's see. The UFCW has estimated it for that region. Members and families of the UFCW are estimated, so I would say that almost half of that would be in Toronto. That is almost one million people of members and their families who are working in that sector in this region.
Mr Sorbara: Actually what I wanted to know was what percentage of your 180,000 members of your 400 locals are retail workers, but if you do not have it that is okay. It would be safe to say, however, that of those 180,000 members of the Metro labour council, the majority of them would be from industrial unions, and primarily the CAW is the largest union in Metro. Is that not right?
Ms Wall: No, I believe that the United Steelworkers, the Canadian Auto Workers and UFCW and the retail unions would be the major ones. That is discounting the public sector. Approximately half of our membership would be from the public sector, so that is about 100,000 and then 80,000 split among those unions, so you are looking at a chunk of workers.
Mr Sorbara: I take it that General Motors and its colleague motor companies are the largest employers in the Metro area and have the largest unionized workforce.
Ms Wall: Actually the Ontario government is the largest employer.
Mr O'Connor: The UFCW has 75%. That is from her brief.
Mr Sorbara: I am sorry, but that is around the province. We were just talking about Metro right now. I notice that in your brief, just before the heading on page 2, "Municipal Option," you are arguing that we should pass a law providing -- I am reading from the second point -- that Sundays, the common pause day, be a day "on which most persons do not have to work." Is it the principle of the Metro labour council that industrial establishments like General Motors and Ford and other manufacturers and other employers in unionized workplaces ought not, for the most part, to be open on Sundays?
Ms Wall: As a labour council we support --
Mr Sorbara: We just need a yes or no as to whether or not it is a policy.
Ms Wall: It is not a yes or no question; I am sorry.
Mr Fletcher: Ler her explain it in the way she wants.
Mr Sorbara: I am just wondering if you have a policy position on that, if the Metro labour council has passed a policy position on that.
Ms Wall: Our policy is here, as written. Our policy is to support the common pause day from Sunday shopping and working. Obviously there are exceptions to the rule. When unions negotiate their own conditions with the employers because of all sorts of other reasons, that is up to them. But in fact you are wrong in terms of the numbers of CAW members and auto workers. When the GM Scarborough plant is closed down, there will be virtually no GM workers in this region. The biggest region is Oshawa. That is not part of our municipality.
Mr B. Murdoch: One of the questions is, you talked about the common pause day and it being on Sunday. What about the other groups that maybe do not want Sunday for the common pause day? Have you considered that? How would you handle that?
Ms Wall: There are other groups, and as somebody else mentioned before, there are other individuals. Naturally, if the general ideology or myth that is being passed around is, "You should have Sunday shopping. You should have cross-border shopping. Open up this province so that you, as an ordinary citizen, have the right to consume every day of the week," if that is the mythology that is being put forward and the flavour that is pushed on us by the federal government and this whole country, then naturally there are going to be people who are swayed by that argument.
But as for a few individual exceptions or groups that think they should have the right to be open, that is an exception to the rule. I believe that for the good of working people and their families and the general citizens in Ontario, this is the best model. There may be people who are interested in making money in the retail sector. There may be those like the drugstores that want to really be supermarkets and not just cater to pharmaceutical and medication needs.
Mr B. Murdoch: There is a whole issue around just the common pause day, what day it should be. Are we going to say it is Sunday, or are we going to say it is Friday or Saturday?
Ms Wall: For the majority of the population Sunday is still considered a common pause day. Of course there are exceptions and we appreciate the reasons for people wanting it to be on other days. People have their religious or other reasons, but those are very few exceptions. I think we are talking about something which is good for the majority of citizens. I am talking about working people, the poor, the oppressed, families at a different level. I am not talking about those who want to make money in this country and open their businesses to anyone and try to make money.
Mr B. Murdoch: I do not think that is what it is about.
Mr Carr: The question I have relates to your membership, and I think Mr Sorbara touched on it. You have auto workers and steelworkers. I think it would be safe to say the vast majority of them are still subject to working on Sundays. What do you say to some of your members who may have to work when they say, "Here you are fighting for the retail workers and yet I am a Canadian auto worker and I have to work." What do you say to those people?
Ms Wall: I believe the whole labour movement is standing behind the United Food and Commercial Workers on this position. I talked before about certain individual local unions or master agreements with companies. That is up to the union themselves to choose that.
We had a discussion last Thursday night at our executive board on this issue before we put forward this statement. The Canadian Auto Workers are represented there, and the Steelworkers are represented there, two of each of those unions, a majority on our board, and they were all in favour of passing this statement.
In principle the trade union movement as a whole is supporting the UFCW and our position on this. What unions negotiate locally is a completely different matter and for various different reasons. We are not making judgement upon them. This is an acceptance of a position in principle and we want to stick to this and see that it is enforced properly.
Mr Carr: The next question is with regard to page 3 where you want to change the square footage. On the one hand you say you would like to have a common pause day, but then you say to get around it we are going to basically discriminate. I suspect you are probably not a lawyer, but that is going to leave it up to a lot of challenges and will discriminate against different-sized businesses for no other reason than the square footage of their facilities. I was wondering if you could explain the rationale behind that, why you would discriminate against different companies or groups?
Ms Wall: At the moment there are about 60% of drugstores that fit into this 2,400 square feet and those are the ones that are primarily drugstores. I do not believe it is discrimination. I believe it is just trying to get some consistency in the system.
The original reason for allowing drugstores to open on Sundays was to ensure the population had access to medication and prescriptions and so on. I have children and I often need to get prescriptions from the hospital or drugstores on a Sunday and in the evenings. That opens it up and allows that kind of thing for people, but there has to be a limit. I think over the years it has stretched and now something like 90% of the drugstores in the province are over 4,000 square feet, which is a big area. If you walk into those big drugstores, they are not drugstores for the reasons they were set up for, for opening on Sundays. They are supermarkets, and 80% of their goods are supermarket kind of goods. You will find in some small areas there will be the medications and the prescription drugs, and sometimes you will not even find the pharmacists there, "Oh, he'll be in at 2 o'clock," or "He'll be in at 3 o'clock," or something like that. That is criminal, to us. The original reason for setting it up is for the population to have access to the medication and we want to keep to that, and if there have to be some limits somewhere, you have to set those limits. Otherwise, it will stretch and stretch and then you will have every supermarket open on Sundays and, "Oh, by the way, we have this little section that sells drugs and medication."
Mr Fletcher: Thank you, Brenda, for the presentation. Just a couple of points. Who do you think this piece of legislation is going to benefit the most?
Ms Wall: I think it is going to benefit working people and their families and the majority of the population in this province. That, to me, is the most important part of the population. If we open it up to the system we have south of the border, there are no limits to the exploitation of working people and the breakup of the kind of family life and social life of the community. I think in this way we can preserve that kind of society.
We have prided ourselves in Canada in being different. We have prided ourselves in supporting working people and their families in the past, and social programs, and I think this is a very important kind of social program, in a sense, as well. It stops people from being exploited seven days a week, and no matter how you get around it, it is happening, people are being forced to work.
Mr Fletcher: That leads into my next question. There is a need to protect workers? You do see a definite need for that?
Ms Wall: There is definitely a need to protect workers, and it is not going to be just through the right to refuse. That has not worked well enough in the health and safety field. You have to have the legislation which creates an effective common pause day so that there is no Sunday shopping and working and there are very few exceptions where people have to have access to things that are necessities.
It is stretching out the dollars. It is even encouraging people to spend more than they have. I do not think it is a healthy kind of attitude, and just in terms of the economy of this country, as I said before, it has nothing to do with the cross-border shopping; it has everything to do with protecting the rights of working people and their families.
Mr Fletcher: Good. I was glad to hear that the UFCW and the CAW could agree on something. It is nice to hear.
Ms Wall: Very much so.
Mr Mills: My colleague Mr Fletcher asked many of the questions that I was about to ask. I thank you for your presentation, and in summary, I would just like to thank you for the wonderful reasons that you have for the cross-border shopping in your general comments. I think they are very succinct and very apropos. Wonderful. Thank you very much.
The Acting Chair (Mr Cooper): Thank you very much for your presentation, Ms Wall.
Mr Sorbara: Is there any more time?
The Acting Chair: No, there is not.
CANADIAN LORD'S DAY ASSOCIATION
The Acting Chair: The next group will be the Canadian Lord's Day Association. What we have been doing is that you are allowed half an hour, and you can divide that time up any way you wish. You can either make a full half-hour presentation or you can make a brief presentation, then divide the rest of the time up among the caucuses for questions and comments. Would you please identify yourself and then proceed.
Mr Fraser: My name is Donald Fraser and I am here on behalf of the Toronto auxiliary of the Canadian Lord's Day Association. The Canadian Lord's Day Association is a Canada-wide association of people who desire to uphold the sanctity of the Lord's Day, also called the Christian Sabbath or Sunday. Maybe we are few, as Mr Sorbara mentioned, but we are still there. We have members in many areas of the province of Ontario and I am here to speak on behalf of our members in the Toronto area.
The issue: Many will say we are living in the 1990s, of which Sunday shopping is a part. Yes, we are living in the 1990s, but no, Sunday shopping does not have to be a part. There are many who value the day of rest when commerce stops and people can have a quiet day, the purpose of this day being to worship God and to rest our bodies.
Our interest in making a presentation to this committee is twofold: (1) to encourage the present government to stand strong in the maintenance of a common pause day, as was suggested by the lady preceding myself; and (2) to express our opinion regarding the proposed legislation, Bill 115.
We would encourage this government not to be intimidated by big business. Over the past two days, I have read media reports about the presentations large retailers have made to this committee. The overwhelming theme of their presentations has been the great financial opportunities they have missed since stores have been closed on Sundays.
I do not believe these losses are solely related to this issue. I believe the timing of the introduction of the GST and the period of open Sunday shopping from June 1990 to March 1991 are closely related. Thus, I believe that the numbers being presented are not a true indication of market reaction to Sunday shopping.
Another argument which is often proposed regards the issue of cross-border shopping. Yes, there are stores open in New York state on Sunday, but if you ask most cross-border shoppers the main reason for their journey, it is because of price.
We as an organization do not believe that bottom-line profitability is a reason for wide-open Sunday shopping. I would quote from the Bible where Jesus in the gospel of Mark said, "What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?"
We appreciate this government's consideration of the wellbeing of retail employees who would otherwise have to work on Sunday. We encourage you to proceed with this legislation protecting the Lord's Day as a day of rest.
We applaud the proposed changes to the Employment Standards Act. The removal of the reference to "reasonableness" is a very positive step and will ensure the right of retail employees to refuse work because of religious convictions.
Our major concern relates to the giving of the power to municipalities to determine compliance with the tourism criteria. This leaves the door open for local governments to declare large sectors of their jurisdictions as tourist areas and thereby permit another form of wide-open Sunday shopping.
Our preference is to see all retail establishments closed on Sunday, even in such areas as Toronto's Chinatown and Harbourfront. We believe the law should apply fairly to all. This includes such specialty retailers as the various retailing clubs which are operating in this province.
We would recommend that the provincial government would decide which areas are designated as tourist areas. Presentations by retailers would be made through local governments, which would in turn apply to a provincial board for approval. Through this method, the provincial government would be able to ensure that this legislation is applied in its intended manner.
In conclusion, our organization supports the principle of this legislation. Our primary concern relates to the general nature of the tourism criteria. We suggest that the provincial government retain the power to designate exemptions to the Retail Business Holidays Act.
Mr Poirier: In the beginning of your statement you said that we listened to big business and whatever, and yes, we saw the opinions of big business, but in the last few days we have also heard a lot of the opinions of very small, family-oriented business, where people wanted to work. As the owners of the business, they were describing to us in great detail how a lot of people wanted to work as employees in those small family businesses. We also saw surveys and people who said they wanted to shop in fair numbers on a Sunday.
You seem to be a very religious man, since you are quoting from the Bible. I presume that is your personal life. I respect that very much. If you want to spend all day Sunday to worship the Lord and do whatever you want that your religion calls for, I have no qualms or quarrels with that, but why would you want to impose that common day on other people who may not share that opinion with you, people of other religions, students who want to work, consumers who want to shop? I do not think people should work seven days a week, but why Sunday? What happened to plural Ontario? What happened to the other opinions? Could you respond to that?
Mr Fraser: Yes. Part of that, as you have mentioned, is my strong Christian beliefs. Being a strong Christian, I would like to see that everybody would believe the same way as I do, and I would like to see that it would not have to be legislated to have a common pause day; rather, that it would be a situation where everybody would of their own accord take one more day off, namely, Sunday, the Lord's Day, as we call it.
Mr Poirier: But what if their Lord's Day is not Sunday? That is your Lord. How about their Lord?
Mr Fraser: Because of our beliefs, we believe that it is in the best interests of society in general to have the day that Christ rose from the dead, that he appointed as the day of worship. We believe it is best for society in general to have that day as the common pause day.
Mr Poirier: Is that what you tell your Jewish and your Muslim neighbours and friends?
Mr Fraser: That is correct, yes. That is part of living a Christian witness, I believe, and expressing our opinions on these issues to our non-Christian neighbours or Christian neighbours who worship in a different manner than ourselves.
Mr Poirier: I presume you know they would not agree with you.
Mr Fraser: Yes, I do understand that.
Mr Poirier: How about those Christians who do worship the Lord on Sunday but still work on Sunday? What do you think of those Christians?
Mr Fraser: That is actually a great problem that we see within the Christian church. Part of the objectives of our organization is not only to make presentations to government, but also to make presentations to other Christian groups who we believe are very lax in their keeping of what we believe is the way Christ meant the day to be kept.
Mr Poirier: So I presume that according to your Christian belief, to shop or to work on a Sunday and not respect the Lord's Day would be a sin.
Mr Fraser: That is correct.
Mr Sorbara: We have a few things established, that the Toronto and District Labour Council supports the government's legislation and the Canadian Lord's Day Association supports the government's legislation. That is an interesting coalition.
I just want to say to Mr Fraser, referring to the sentence in his submission, "Our preference is to see all retail establishments closed on Sunday," I am not sure if he will believe this, but I want to tell him that my preference as well is to see all retail establishments closed on Sunday, or some other day that we could agree on, if we could agree on that. That would be in some respects my first choice. If society as a whole could agree with that, it would be wonderful. I have a particular envy for the state of Israel, where there is common and uniform agreement about what day shall be a common pause day.
But is there not now some acknowledgement within your organization that the very makeup of the province of Ontario, the fact that we are a multireligious society and also a secular society, the fact that some are required to observe another day and some do not care to observe any day, is there not room in your philosophy to understand that, given the dynamic of this wonderfully diverse society called Ontario, we do not have the right any more to force upon an individual the requirement to stop doing what he is doing, based on the preferences of an important minority?
Mr Fraser: No. In response to your question, we might be considered a very traditional organization in that sense, but no, we do not believe that because we are in a pluralistic society everybody should be accommodated. We believe in God's laws and we believe that God's laws apply to everybody whether they believe in them or not. That is the standpoint we come from.
Mr Sorbara: Then you would take the position, and I think the district labour council was almost about to take the position -- or I was inviting it to take the position -- that General Motors should stop manufacturing on Sunday as well. They want most workers not to work. You would prefer the closure of a General Motors, you would prefer the closure of the service sector, you would want to prohibit the use of banking machines, things like that, on Sunday as well.
Mr Fraser: Our organization would agree with you on that, except for certain works of necessity in which we believe, such as hospitals --
Mr Sorbara: Keeping the lights on.
Mr Fraser: -- and, as they were saying, a certain number of drugstores for the prescription of absolute necessities. Yes, that is what our organization believes.
Mr Sorbara: You support the government's legislation, save and except that you would like the tourist criteria to be even stricter?
Mr Fraser: I would like to see the government take control of that situation. I do not think the municipal option is a correct situation because it just leaves too many varied people interpreting the legislation and it leads to a very wide range of decisions.
Mr Sorbara: Why in Ontario should we have facilities that cater to tourists on Sunday and not to our own citizens? You support the tourist exemption.
Mr Fraser: Actually, the true position of our association with regard to many tourist attractions is that many of them should be closed on Sunday. The majority of the members of our association do not attend tourist attractions, such as Canada's Wonderland, on Sunday.
Mr Sorbara: But should there be tourist shopping? Should a boutique in Yorkville be allowed to open under a tourist exemption, under legislation that you would support?
Mr Fraser: No.
Mr Sorbara: So you would not have any tourist exemptions.
Mr Fraser: No, that is correct.
Mr B. Murdoch: Just to carry on with this, surely as a true Christian you must have regard for the beliefs of other religions.
Mr Fraser: I have regard for the beliefs of other religions. I would like that they would come to the beliefs of Christianity.
Mr B. Murdoch: But in this way you would almost force them with a law. Is this what our country would come to with a law that said if you are not a Christian, then you must take Sunday as a holiday?
Mr Fraser: No. There are certain aspects of society that, in order to have law and order prevail, certain laws must be legislated.
Mr B. Murdoch: Yes, certain laws with law and order, but this is nothing to do with order. This would be their God. You speak of your God who wanted Sunday as our day. I come from a Christian area. There are very few other religions in my area, but I still think they would want to respect the laws of another God that Muslims believe in and people like that. Sunday is not their day. This is a law we are talking about, and they would be breaking the law then.
Mr Fraser: Yes, and they may break the law without its being legislated, by their choice, if they do not have a retail establishment, by doing some other kind of work.
Mr B. Murdoch: But in their religion it is not breaking the law, so it gets pretty dicey here when we start to pit one religion against another because of a common pause day.
Mr Fraser: We believe that for uniformity within a country there are certain prevailing religions -- I should not say "prevailing religions." There should be certain laws that should prevail. We believe that this country is based on Judaeo-Christian laws. Being based on that, that is how we have had Sunday as the day of rest until today.
Mr B. Murdoch: So basically, Canada or Ontario has not become a multiculture then. We are still basically a Christian country.
Mr Fraser: We are established on Christian principles.
Mr B. Murdoch: I know we were established that way, but we have, over the past 100 years, become a multiculture.
Mr Fraser: I realize that, but we believe that because we are multicultural does not mean we should give up our Christian laws just because other religions have come into our country.
Mr B. Murdoch: I do not think anybody wants us to give it up. Sunday would be there, but there also may be Saturday or Friday, as we have heard today from some other people. But I will not belabour that.
The other thing that concerns me is about tourism. I know North York was mentioned, but let's take my area of Grey county where almost our main industry now is tourism. One of its biggest days is Sundays. Are you saying that our little shops, our boutiques, our antique shops should all be closed on Sunday? That is probably half their business. Are you saying they should all be closed?
Mr Fraser: We believe that yes, those shops should be closed.
Mr B. Murdoch: Okay. Would you be prepared then to pay the bill to support the people who will not have jobs? There is going to be massive unemployment in the tourist areas, which would be in Grey-Bruce and Muskoka, a lot of places like that. These people will not have jobs. They will not be able to survive. Would your group be willing to put money towards --
Mr Fraser: I disagree with you on that point, because people do not come only for a weekend. There is a lot of traffic on a weekend, but there is a lot of tourism. Today, there are many people purchasing in boutiques up in Muskoka and Grey-Bruce. For years and years those people were not unemployed. We do not believe it has changed just because it has changed very recently.
Mr B. Murdoch: It did not change very recently. It has been changing over the past number of years. As I said, half their business will come on Sundays. They will come in here and tell you that, and they are not making a fortune, so half their business is going to be gone. They are not going to be able to make a living. You do not have the answer for them. Our answer is that they be allowed to be open on Sunday. If your organization has an idea that they should be closed, then it has also got to have an idea of how it is going to support these people.
Mr Fraser: If they are closed, I am sure that people are interested in what those boutiques have to offer and will come on another day and purchase things, because many of these boutiques were not open in the past on Sundays.
Mr B. Murdoch: I hope we do not have to find that out, because it would be disastrous if they were closed.
Mr Fraser: And they ran businesses successfully in the past.
Mr B. Murdoch: That is a long time ago. It has changed. Obviously, you have not been into the areas of late. Anyway, that is fine.
Mr Carr: My question is along the same lines. Here you have the retail workers. How would you take us back in those other industries; for example, hotels and airlines and so on? What would be your recommendations for those areas? Presumably, they should not be working. How does your organization see that going? How would you make it so that those groups now do not work on Sunday too? Would you leave them the same or are you attempting to do something for the vast majority of the people who are now working on Sundays who would not be protected?
Mr Fraser: We believe that not everything can be legislated. That is obvious. You cannot legislate everything to be closed. With regard to hotels, people, if they come on a Friday and stay until a Tuesday, obviously there is going to be -- and we consider much of that work as work of necessity for the maintenance of people's wellbeing. With regard to travel, in the various businesses I have worked in as a sales representative, I have never travelled on a Sunday and most of the members of our association make it a point to avoid travel on Sunday. It would be an ideal situation that we would desire to have in this country and around the world, to not have travel on Sunday, and many recreations.
Mr Carr: Baseball games, movies and things like that.
Mr Fraser: Correct.
Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. Let me just repeat something I said to another presenter. This legislation is not here because of anyone's religious beliefs or anything else. It is here to protect workers and also to do something about tourism. It has nothing to do with religion or culture. Since I did touch on the tourist exemption, exactly what is the problem with the tourist exemption that you see?
Mr Fraser: Our main problem is that we realize that the ideals we have will never -- I should not say "will never" -- will not be legislated by any legislation that this government may pass. We believe there will probably be a tourist designation as there stands in the law at present and we would like to see the government maintain control of that designation.
Mr Fletcher: The provincial government?
Mr Fraser: That is correct.
Mr O'Connor: I want to thank you for coming here today. I know it is very awkward and sometimes a little bit frustrating, especially when committee members, though we are not necessarily experts at everything ourselves, sometimes ask questions in an area that perhaps you are not an expert in anyway. I think perhaps one area that you do like to focus on is the needs of people. In that area, then, do you think there is the need for some protection of workers, so that they have the right to refuse work on Sundays?
Mr Fraser: I believe that very much and I talk from personal experience. A gentleman in our church who is a manager of a jewellery store was not forced to work on Sunday, but he felt he would lose his job if he refused to work on Sunday. This law does provide some sort of protection for him. We applaud that.
Mr O'Connor: One of the other members mentioned earlier about the auto workers working on Sunday. I found that really curious, because having come from the auto manufacturing industry and having worked there for a number of years -- 11, as a matter of fact -- I probably could count the times I have been requested to work on a Sunday on one hand.
Mr Carr: The St Thomas plant goes seven days a week.
Mr O'Connor: So not all auto workers can be painted with the same brush. In fact, that was in the largest auto manufacturing plant in all of North America. In St Thomas it could be a little bit different. We cannot say necessarily all. I am glad you see that protection is necessary.
One area that you talked about was the leadership role, provincial and municipal. Do you feel the province should definitely take a leadership role in this and make sure that legislation goes forward making sure that there is some protection for the worker?
Mr Fraser: Yes. We believe that the past Liberal government was negligent in the way it formed the legislation. It was not a leadership role. Instead, it was passing the buck to the municipalities. The problem is that you get so many, many different people taking control that you get so many different controls. It just is not uniform. We would like to see some uniformity here.
Mr O'Connor: Again, I thank you for coming and I hope we did not put you on the spot too much by asking you questions in perhaps areas you are not an expert in.
Mr Mills: Thank you, sir, for coming and your presentation. I would just like to remind you that we do have a Sabbatarian exemption in the current legislation. I am sure that you are aware of that, are you not?
Mr Fraser: Sabbatarian exemption?
Mr Mills: Yes, there is that. I would like to also say I am very pleased, as a member of the government that is presenting this legislation, that your organization supports it in principle, and for that I thank you, sir.
Mr White: I have one small question. My understanding is that the history of the act -- as you know, it was the Lord's Day Act, and that has been the tradition for countless centuries, but in the last 20 or 30 years there has been a shift from the preservation of Sunday as the Lord's Day to the preservation of Sunday for a common pause day for families, for recreation. That is why the emphasis, of course, on tourism.
Other groups that have presented have been with us for four generations as well, like the People for Sunday Association of Canada. They started off with a religious bent, but now they have come to a strong support for a common pause day. You, on the other hand, are maintaining that strong religious bent. You do not have any kith and kin with the idea about the common pause day?
Mr Fraser: That is correct. We believe that we are the only association in Canada that stands for the Lord's Day, Sunday, on a purely religious basis from the Christian principle. We are associated with the Lord's Day Observance Society in the United Kingdom.
The Acting Chair: Mr Fraser, I would like to thank you on behalf of the committee for your presentation.
ENDS CLOTHING STORE
The Acting Chair: Our next presenter will be from Ends Clothing Store. You will be allowed half an hour for your presentation. You can either make a half-hour presentation or split it up, because people from the committee have questions and comments. Could you please introduce yourself and then proceed.
Mr Weisfeld: My name is Harold Weisfeld. I have a couple of stores in the Beach called Ends. I have been in business since September 7 1982. You will have to excuse me because I am a bit shaky. I probably have more fines than Paul Magder. It is a very, very tough time for me. I have about $300,000, $400,000 in fines. I have been open every Sunday for nine years and I will fight it right to the end. I have here a list of 25 different situations which are not exactly the regular situations that you are hearing from other people, and I am going to start from the beginning.
First of all, I have a Travel Ontario book that was written by the Minister of Tourism and Recreation for Ontario, Queen's Park, written by the NDP. If you will refer to page 52 there is a picture of the Beach. I only have two or three copies. I will just hand them out. If I go from one thing to another, it is just the way I have written it down.
First of all, I employ 17 people. I have four stores -- two in the Beach, one at College and Bathurst and one at Bayview and Eglinton. I do not open Bayview and Eglinton or College Street because it is not necessary. I am in the discount business. I was a sculptor most of my life and at the age of 38 got into the clothing business because I could not make a living as a sculptor. The business has been very good to me. The first five years were very difficult. The last three or four years have been fabulous, except for the Sunday-opening situation.
Since I am in the discount business, between myself and probably five other gentlemen in Canada, we are probably sourcing more merchandise for the majors, for Eaton's, for Simpsons, because we do wholesale. I never really was in wholesale, but when Sunday-opening came up I started to get very frightened and said, "I have to find another avenue."
I was with the president of a huge company the other day, in Buffalo, and he was trying to make a decision whether to open up in Ontario or Buffalo. As for trying to compete with the States, we really do not have a chance because the gentleman who was with him was a member of Parliament -- or I do not know what you actually call them -- in the state of New York and he said to him: "Wherever you want to open up in Buffalo, we'll make it a duty-free zone. Wherever you want. You want to open up in Tonawanda, Lackawana, wherever you want." That basically means that if he brings $25 million worth of merchandise into Ontario, within one year, if it is in bond, if he has a 20% duty, he has to pay 20% on that $25 million. What the gentleman in the States was offering him is that he can bring in his $25-million worth of merchandise and as he picks from it over a 25-year period that is when he pays his duty. So if he sells $100,000 worth he pays the duty on $100,000 worth.
As for us trying to compete by saying, "Well, let's get eight percent from the people bringing it over the border," the American government will give the storekeepers the kickback. They are more business oriented.
Why the government has picked one sector of business, retail, as the devil, I have no idea. They have not picked any other business sector but retail. There could be a man at College and Bathurst sitting on the third floor in a computer company making a million dollars a year, but because he is not exposed to the retail, everyday people, you do not know what he does; he might be open seven days a week. I do not think it is fair. There is discrimination in a policeman coming into my store and giving me a ticket, and I am saying, "Could you please explain to me why the woman three doors away is not getting a ticket yet we are buying at the same place?" "Well, she is only carrying three items of the same goods." So what does that mean? Maybe she has 60 others in the back. What does it mean that she is carrying only three?
The police have such confusion over what a craft is and what a craft is not, but it is our livelihood. They are singling us out in such a way that if a person tells them a good story, he does not get a ticket. If the right policeman is on duty on the right day, you do not get a ticket -- and this is my livelihood. People say, "What if people do not want to work on Sundays?" Well, what about the person who works at Shoppers Drug Mart or a craft shop? What is different between him working on a Sunday and the guy who is working for me on a Sunday? He has a different way of thinking so he will work on a Sunday and will not be forced into it?
I have lists of at least 100 kids who go to the University of Western Ontario, University of Toronto, your kids, nephews, nieces, begging to work. If everyone is paying $6 an hour, I am paying $10 an hour. Comes the end of the weekend and business is good, I am giving them $200 bonuses. I have a very successful business and I am afraid of what is going to happen, so I am fighting as I know best. Unfortunately the rest of the Beaches will not stay open because they are frightened, so I have become a martyr and I hate it. I despise it.
I had to ride my bicycle three hours this morning just to calm down for this meeting. It is a very gut-wrenching experience. Out of 300 businesses in the Beach, 82 have either gone out of business or switched locations because of high rent. I have proof of everything I am telling you,. You must understand that the Beach is a group of people who could not make it in the corporate environment. They could not put on a suit. They found an alternative lifestyle. We have jazz festivals. We have a whole great thing going on there and all of a sudden we are starting to hate each other. This one tells on this one, and this one tells on this one and it is getting crazy. And unfortunately it is big money.
I do 40% to 50% of my business on a Sunday. I declared my corporation agnostic and I close Mondays, but my basic religion is that I am Jewish, and it makes me sick to my stomach that I have to go to this level to do it. I will play it right to the end, and not because of stubbornness but because I have to make a living. I have Vietnamese working for me, Chinese, I have every ethnic group working for me and they are constantly frightened when the police come. When I started in the Beaches I was paying $800 a month. I have moved to a better location, bigger space and I am paying $7,000 a month. I do not mind paying $7,000 a month because I am making the money. I am in a volume business and I have to keep the game going.
If I close that seventh day, the whole puzzle falls apart. Ninety percent of the kids or people who work in the Beach in retail are from the Beach. You will not allow us a vote on it. Everyone thinks it is too much of a hotbed. I have spent so much time with politicians, from Paul Godfrey because he was my baseball coach as a kid, right down to Paul Christie, Tom Jakobek -- no one wants to get involved. No one wants to start.
As for employees wanting to work Sunday, as I say, I have lists and lists. They are begging to work Sundays. If they do not want to work Sunday, there is no problem. Now let's just talk about the small businessman, the small grocer who becomes intimidated and has convinced the government that he cannot make a living if the big guy is open. My girlfriend's father was vice-president at Labatt's and one of the things he told me is that the big corporation makes so many mistakes that is the only way the small entrepreneur can survive.
Why do I as an individual want Eaton's on one side of me and the Bay on the other side of me? Because by the time they make a decision you can make 20 other moves. If you go to Bloor and Bay you will start seeing winter goods in the stores, and I am sure if you have never been in the garment business you have always wondered why they are selling winter in summer and summer in winter. Because they cannot move fast enough and thank God they cannot. That is how small businesses, if they move quickly and they are on the ball, can make it work. It does not matter how smart the corporation is, they cannot move as fast as the small guy. I am sure the man from Eaton's started off as a pedlar and then opened a retail store and has evolved to a big position.
You are not allowing us to grow. I, myself, am 47 years old. I really am happy with what I have. I am not looking to build an empire of 20 stores. If I had my choice, I would have just one store. Things happen, things evolve: you start with one store, you end up with two. I have reached my peak and I just want to keep it where it is. As I say, I employ 17 employees and we are like a happy family there. But the big problem is their fear and my fear. Every Saturday at two or three in the morning, like clockwork, I throw up, the fear starts and it is becoming gut-wrenching with the whole community.
There is a woman who has a place in the Beach -- her husband was a lawyer, fell in front of a subway three years ago, got killed. Her only support is her little store. You have to close Sunday, well, she does $2,000 on a Sunday and $300 on a Monday. A lot of the businesses that have gone out of business in the Beach were established ones that had been there 60 and 70 years. It is now reaching the point that it has now become a Subway Submarine, Mr Submarine, Mr Donut, it is getting that way. So this great place, near the lake, whether there were Sunday openings or not, would always have people. They had people for 20 years. I have been living there 18 to 20 years and they always had people. Now it is becoming chicken chalet, it is becoming what we did not want it to become.
As for the discount business, and as for people trying to figure out how to make their business work, the real key is to do what the customer tells you, not what you want. You have a house and you have it up for $300,000 and it does not sell. It does not mean that the purchaser is a son of a gun. It means that is what the marketplace is telling you. When I have 40,000 people come into my store on a Sunday, they are telling me they want me to be open, I am not telling them.
I am sorry, just one more. If you were to close all the stores in the Beach, it would probably affect 1,500 people, directly and indirectly. Prices have got exorbitant there. It is wild as far as doing business.
One thing I just want to close with is to just give you a little idea about retail. If you have never been in small business, retail always appears to be the easiest game to get into, but it is really the hardest game to do. You go out, you pay your first month's rent, your last month's rent. You get an individual to give you merchandise, you convince him to give you 60 days and then you are in business. Then it starts.
The nonsense from a physical, from a robbery point of view is so gut-wrenching. Saturday, the jazz festival, a kid comes with a ketchup bottle and sprays 160 shirts; 14 years old, smiles at us. A man takes a dog into the store. I said, "Please don't put the dog in the store." "Hey, no problem." It goes to the bathroom. It cost $12,000. I had to tell everyone to get out of the store for three hours.
There is so much violence in retail that you cannot imagine. You see what is going on in the Beach now. Everything is being kept quiet. Some kid was nearly murdered. It is getting wild there and we are trying to keep it cool. We try not to keep it on the front page. We have to have a Sunday opening to keep our game going.
I cannot tell you what a great community we had six or seven years ago with storekeepers, and now everyone is hating everyone. Police are coming up to me and I am saying to them, "Tell me about the other storekeeper." He goes to the other storekeeper and says, "The only reason I am coming down here is because Harold told me that I had better come down and give you a ticket." The nonsense is getting wild. That is all. Shoot, if anyone has any questions.
Mr Sorbara: I just want to see if I understand correctly what you are saying is happening in the Beach in Toronto. Are you telling me that the pressure that retailers are under is resulting in stores closing and then the new tenants that are replacing those stores are the Mr Submarines and the McDonald's and the other chain stores which can of course open on Sunday?
Mr Weisfeld: Not only they can open Sunday --
Mr Sorbara: They are taking over your Sunday market.
Mr Weisfeld: They are not only taking over your Sunday market -- that is business -- but they are bringing in 300 people who have a lot of money from another country. They do not speak English and they want to put their son into a business and they take him to a Second Cup. He really cannot make it and the woman has put $250,000 into a business. They brought her there on a Sunday when there were 50,000 people; all of a sudden she sells three cups of coffee on a Monday. The buyback is you can only sell it back to the franchiser. Then he has another 500 waiting there to put in another $250,000, so they are the only ones who can afford to pay these big rents.
I am not complaining about the rents. What I am saying is, if you are not giving us seven days, the little comic book shop, the little this cannot exist, because we are paying rent for seven days and there is big action there. The jazz festival must have had 100,000 people there.
Mr Sorbara: You have said that you paid $300,000 or $400,000 in fines.
Mr Weisfeld: I have a $17,000 fine that I got about a year and a half ago that I am appealing. I have approximately another 60 tickets. If they gave me full tilt at $50,000 a ticket, it could be $400,000, $300,000, $200,000.
Mr Sorbara: Why is it, do you think, your store is visited every Sunday by Her Majesty's loyal police force?
Mr Weisfeld: Why? Because I have more exposure. If you would see my store, I have things outside. There is more exposure to the street than other stores and my price is right. Today it is price and item; that is all it is. If you have the right price and the right item, it happens. If I buy an item for $3, I am not putting it out for $12. I am putting it out for $3.50 and selling hundreds.
Mr Sorbara: Are the police looking at your prices or is some other storekeeper saying, "You've got to close that son of a gun down?"
Mr Weisfeld: Oh, well, the jealousies start to go mad. I am selling something for $3 and another storekeeper came in two years ago and is selling it for $12. Is he going to be angry?
Mr Sorbara: You are not planning to close on Sundays, is that right?
Mr Weisfeld: I cannot. I have tried to figure out every way. It will not happen. I will have to close the other three stores, because I can only buy at that $3 price because I am buying 5,000 at a time.
Mr Carr: I want to thank you for taking the time away from your business and coming here and presenting your story. Sometimes it is very difficult when it is so personal and you put so much into it, and for that we thank you.
One of the criteria put forward has been the tourism criteria. There are many who have looked at this law who say that a place like the Beach would surely qualify. My question to you is whether you have had a chance to look at the tourism criteria and what you plan to do as it goes before council to help ensure that the area does get the tourism exemption. Have you given any thought to that?
Mr Weisfeld: John Winter from John Winter and Associates, who is representing the Beach, is putting surveys and paraphernalia together. My feeling was, obviously, it was for the better, but now the games start. I mean, there might be three people in the whole Beach who do not want it and they might scream loudly. I am praying that this new tourism situation will help us out, but am I putting effort? I have spent $50,000 on effort -- with surveys, with finding out that 82 people went out of business -- constantly, every day, not from the BIA but from my own personal funds.
Mr Carr: One of the problems is sort of a time lag from the time this committee gets done with it and it gets proclaimed and then goes to the municipal council. In your estimation, for a lot of these business, how close is it? Will they be able to survive until council is able to deal with it?
Ms Weisfeld: As Barry Agnew said yesterday, you have not seen anything yet. Okay, I am in the discount business. It is the first time I have ever seen in my life that there were no goods available, where you say: "Oh, my God, things are bad. There must be thousands of people sitting with manufactured items that they can't sell." There are no goods available, because I deal with the biggest broker in Canada, which is Steinberg, and a division of Steinberg. There is nothing to buy. There is no manufacturing going on.
When Eaton's would order 2,000 of an item, the man would bring in 2,500, so he had 500 extra. They order 2,000, he brings them 1,500 now. They are not relying on the Eaton's and Simpsons to do this any more because Eaton's and Simpsons are opening their own buying offices there and are cutting it so to the corner that there is no room for that distributor.
So what is happening now is, for example, if anyone has ever shopped in my store, I used to get a lot of Arrow shirts on clearance. I might sell a $65 shirt for $22 and just hundreds of people came. Now it does not exist any more, because they are opening their own retail outlets. That is what is happening. So you have the manufacturers going exactly the way they did in the United States. They are going direct to the public. They are saying, "I don't care if I get the order."
Mr Carr: One question regarding the employees: One of the concerns that has come up is with regard to individuals who do not want to work for religious reasons or want to be with the family and so on. I think you mentioned most of them are students. You have a list that is long, these people who do want to work. So in your opinion, there would never be the need to force any of the people who may work on another day.
Mr Weisfeld: If a person does not want to work, he has a reason not to. First of all, this is like a family. Although there are 17 of us, it is like a group of people who want to work. If they do not, there is never once -- because I would not want it done to me. I am not looking to have a big business. It is big enough as it is. I am not looking to tell a person, "If you don't work Sundays, you don't get any work for the rest of the week." If he cannot come in, he cannot come in, and you can take every employee and ask that.
Mr Carr: Thank you and good luck.
Mr B. Murdoch: How many square feet would your store be?
Mr Weisfeld: I have one 375 square feet and one 5,000.
Mr B. Murdoch: So the one 5,000 might not fit the criteria that some labour --
Mr Weisfeld: I will chop it in half; I will make it 2,000. I will do what I have to do. I will shut a door.
Mr B. Murdoch: Well, labour has some problem with the bigger stores. They think exploitation of some of the labour people, and that is probably a good concern that they should have in the bigger areas.
Mr Weisfeld: Suppose you had a 5,000-square-foot craft shop. Would that apply?
Mr B. Murdoch: I am not sure. Well, right now we are at 7,500 feet, so we are all right.
Mr Weisfeld: You know what I am saying? In other words, supposing it was in the criteria but it was 7,500 or 10,000.
Mr Sorbara: If you sell drugs, you can be 7,500 square feet.
Mr Weisfeld: Right.
Mr Sorbara: Do you sell drugs?
Mr Weisfeld: No.
Mr B. Murdoch: These are legal drugs. He already has enough fines; he does not need more. I just want to know the size and find out what we are dealing with, because there are two problems here.
The Chair: Do you have the square metres down?
Mr B. Murdoch: Yes. We will go on. Let somebody else have a question.
Mr Mills: On behalf of the caucus of the government, I would like to thank you for attending here today. Your comments have been very interesting. Maybe I should take up riding a bicycle. You said it relieves your frustration and you had to ride for three hours before you came here. It is unfortunate you thought your appearance here was so upsetting.
Mr Weisfeld: It is frightening.
Mr Mills: It is very easygoing and I hope you have enjoyed yourself here.
Mr Weisfeld: We try our best. When I sat before the court and they gave me a $17,000 fine, I sat there for 21 charges, and three people sitting in the docket chained to each other -- and one had just raped a 93-year-old woman -- are sitting there laughing at me.
Mr Mills: We are not chaining people here yet. Thank you very much.
The Chair: Any further questions? Thank you very much, Mr Weisfeld.
Mr Weisfeld: Thank you.
The Chair: We are adjourned until 8:50 in Collingwood tomorrow.
The committee adjourned at 1556.