Manitoba passes new law, throws doors open to Sunday and holiday shopping

The Manitoba government has thrown aside the restrictions that limited when businesses could be open on Sundays and most holidays.

It proclaimed legislation Thursday that eliminates the current laws, which restricted retailers to operating from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The changes take effect this weekend — though current shopping restrictions around COVID-19 remain in place.

“Given the current public health restrictions in place to protect Manitobans, we want to provide flexibility to businesses and customers and allow more opportunity for curbside pickup and delivery options as well as longer in-person shopping hours to minimize crowds,” Finance Minster Scott Fielding said in a news release from the province.

“During this critical time for retailers across the province, we believe these updated laws will help many businesses with additional revenues as we head into the holiday season.”

Disposing of the Sunday restrictions was an election promise of the Progressive Conservatives. Legislation was introduced last year but the proposal died in September when the previous legislative session ended.

The province reintroduced the legislation in October and expedited it.

Bill 4, the Retail Business Hours of Operation Act, gives all businesses in Manitoba the choice to remain open later on Sundays and during statutory holidays. It also gives municipalities the authority to pass bylaws, should they prefer to keep some restrictions in place.

Manitoba last expanded Sunday shopping hours in 2012, when the opening time was changed from noon to 9 a.m.

“A majority of Manitoba’s business owners support these changes, and we want to give all businesses in Manitoba the choice to remain open later on Sundays and statutory holidays,” Fielding said about the newest legislation.

“Manitoba was the only western Canadian province to restrict retail business hours on Sundays and holidays and our government has been committed to modernizing our outdated and complicated shopping laws.”

The province will maintain current retail restrictions on Remembrance Day.