Supermarket owner upset with $10,000 fine threat for opening on Good Friday
|CTVnews 21 Apr 2019 at 12:24|
The owner of a supermarket chain in Winnipeg says he doesnt understand why he was ordered to close his stores on Good Friday while a cannabis retailer remained open.
Its just weird that you can gamble on a holiday, you can buy weed now on a holiday, and you can drink on a holiday but you cant buy groceries on a holiday, Munther Zeid told CTV Winnipeg.
Zeid owns Food Fare, a chain of supermarkets with several locations around Winnipeg. He says he received a call from one store Friday morning informing him that a provincial worker was threatening to fine the store $10,000 and close it down if it attempted to remain open.
A confusing law
Manitoba legislation spells out six statutory holidays on which most retail businesses can not open to the public, including Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The province does make exceptions for businesses including restaurants, pharmacies, laundromats,gas stations and retailers that ordinarily operate with four or less employees.
Pharmacies being included is particularly confusing to Zeid, because large chain pharmacies carry many food products and face no restrictions on selling them on Good Friday.
Not included on the provinces list are cannabis stores with at least five employees. Zeid said he had sent most of his employees home and was about to shut down a fourth store for the day when he realized a nearby cannabis store seemed to be operating without any issues.
Thats kind of ridiculous," he said.
At that point, Zeid decided to leave the fourth store open. Although another provincial worker came by and asked for documents, he was able to remain open until his planned closing at 5 p.m. He said he saw thousands of customers come through his doors that afternoon.
The owners of the cannabis store declined to comment on this story.
Chuck Davidson, president of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce, told CTV Winnipeg that his organization wants the province to allow retailers to determine their own hours on statutory holidays.
Its a confusing law, he said.
You can go to a McDonalds or you can go get gas 365 days out of the year. Its very unique that weve treated retail differently.
Zeid says he plans to start a petition and talk to MLAs about changing the rules around which businesses can be open on Good Friday and other holidays.