Advocacy

Since 1963, Retail Council of Canada has been fighting unapologetically for every retailer, every retail issue, and every retail job across Canada. We always have your back, and we are proud that you are a part of the strongest voice, the strongest promoter, and the strongest advocate for retailers across every region. Our strong advocacy work pays close attention to concerns that may add cost, affect reputation, establish precedent, and support the growth of Canada’s retail industry.

NEW: Also see RCC’s Federal Budget submission 2022.

Recent News and Wins

Highlighted Regional Wins

RCC has representatives who advocate for retailers on regional issues across Canada.

  • Argued against new Online Marketplace Services tax which created significant inequities for B.C.-based retailers and restaurants, which ended in a committee’s report recommending that the new tax be reviewed.
  • Provided retailers with advance warning on highway and rail closures and reopening in order to help supply route planning during the 2021 B.C. flooding emergency
  • Coordinated with other business associations and Port of Vancouver to involve and engage Transport Canada to alleviate supply chain impact. Also worked with Deputy Premier in regard to messaging on supply chain shortages and importance of kindness to front-line retail workers.
  • Working to inform the B.C. government’s expansion of extended producer responsibility to include mattresses, foundations, pressurized containers and semi-hazardous products.
  • Secured labelling flexibilities for products needing to be temporarily sourced from the United States during the emergency and negotiated an arrangement that granted Canadian motor carriers and drivers transiting essential goods through the U.S. revised border crossing protocols.
  • No retail store was ever obligated to close during the pandemic, as a result of extensive conversations and meetings with the province.
  • Successfully advocated for improvements to the wording of an amendment to workers compensation legislation that clarify the probability of transmission of communicable viruses in any class of workplaces must be higher than in the public-at-large.
  • RCC worked to clarify, and simplify compliance with, the requirement from the Provincial Health Officer for businesses to have and post a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan.
  • Early in the pandemic, RCC worked with members and non-members to inform the B.C. government on the strength of the retail supply chain early in the pandemic and ensured limits on sale quantities for certain grocery, household and cleaning products were not imposed.
  • RCC successfully advocated that certain health care products, including incontinence aids, and canes, were exempted from PST.
  • RCC achieved relief of requirements for sales to First Nations individuals and sales of certain products to require either signatures and/or viewing and recording numbers from identification cards belonging to the customer. That relief is set to expire 45 days after the last extension of the COVID-19 emergency, but RCC is working to achieve a permanent change to facilitate access for these customers to eCommerce and curb-side retail.
  • RCC and other business stakeholders successfully advocated for the delayed reporting and remittance for the Employer Health Tax, Provincial Sales Tax, hydroelectric power, vehicle insurance and workers compensation assessments early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alberta

  • Effectively advocated to push back on Wave 4 COVID-19 related restrictions, including considerations to add Proof of Vaccination requirements in Alberta.
  • Secured Government reappointment to the board of the Alberta Recycling Management Authority at a critical period when the province is rolling out its framework for extended producer responsibility. This initiative is anticipated to transfer hundreds of millions of recycling costs from taxpayers to industry and retailers.
  • Hosted an exclusive RCC member event with Premier Jason Kenney that provided a unique opportunity to directly ask the Alberta government about its support of the retail sector.
  • Advocated for Alberta retailers to be subjected to capacity restrictions of 25% rather than shuttering businesses based on essential vs. non-essential definitions.
  • Directly influenced the expansion of the “essential retail” definition, to ensure most Alberta retailers had the option of remaining open during Spring 2020.
  • Ensured Alberta introduced eviction protection as an incentive for landlords to work with retailers.
  • Built mutually valued relationships across Alberta’s government to allow for quick response times to member 411 and 911 issues.


Saskatchewan

  • Effectively advocated to push back on Wave 4 COVID-19 related restrictions, including considerations to add Proof of Vaccination requirements in Saskatchewan.
  • Ensured retail employers were incorporated into the new Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program designed to address hard-to-fill positions, including low and entry level positions.
  • Pushed for refinements to COVID-19 retail guidelines for Saskatchewan that reduced costs and improved operating flexibility for apparel, grocery, and other sectors.
  • As part of RCC’s election advocacy, secured a commitment by the governing Saskatchewan Party to maintain PST and the predictable CPI linked minimum wage model.


Manitoba

  • Realized the Manitoba government funded COVID-19 sick-leave program for eligible retail workers impacted by the illness during the pandemic.
  • Successfully achieved the inclusion of most Manitoba retail workers in a government essential worker risk recognition collective benefit of $60 million or $1, 377/employee.
  • Directly influenced the expansion of the “essential retail” guidelines, and subsequently the updating of operating requirements to ensure safety, however lower cost, and operating constraints.
  • Achieved and participated in the introduction of a Bill that will allow retailers to establish their own Sunday and Holiday hours in Manitoba.

  • Integral in instigating an Ontario Energy Board (OEB) consolation on new methods to price power to retail stores. Early research from the OEB suggests the alternative models of pricing could mean an average savings of 10.7 per cent on energy costs for businesses.
  • Supported the distribution of rapid test kits through RCC’s pharmacy and grocery members, in addition to ongoing advocacy to see COVID-19 restrictions reduced.
  • Worked with the Ontario government in 2021 to demonstrate research findings that confirmed minimal virus transmission within retail stores. These findings lead to earlier reopening and reduced restrictions.
  • As a result of RCC advocacy, licensed grocery stores can now offer curbside pickup of beer, wine, and, cider, and are able to sell alcoholic products from 7am to 11pm. Stores can now also cross-promote beer, cider, and, wine with some non-alcohol products.
  • Advocated for provincial level harmonization for a variety of topics, including masking.
  • Ensured retail restrictions made sense. This included working to exempt employees from store capacity calculations, and modifications to screening guidance for staff and third-party visitors.
  • Following an RCC-led push on municipalities to exempt retail and restaurant delivery vehicles from noise by-laws, and a subsequent Ontario-wide emergency order, RCC successfully delivered legislation enacted in September 2021 that permanently exempted all Ontario retail/restaurant/DC deliveries from municipal noise by-laws and encouraging off-peak deliveries.
  • Lobbied for changes to the Ontario Blue Box Regulation, including exemptions for food-protection products, changes to the rule creation threshold, and the scope of eligible sources, such as parks and public spaces.
  • Supported the development of the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO), Circular Materials. RCC continues to act as the Secretariat to ensure producers have an industry-led, not-for-profit option.
  • In 2nd COVID-19 wave, actively pushed province to remove non-essential vs essential restrictions and allow all retailers to open with capacity limits.
  • Worked with the majority of Ontario’s 34 Public Health Units to push the removal of fines from a retailer when customer fails to wear/remove mask.
  • Secured moratorium on evictions for unpaid rent as well as deferral of provincial and municipal taxes & other regulatory burdens.
  • Secured 24-hour truck delivery in Ontario allowing for expanded hours, shorter delivery times and reduced fuel consumption.
  • Served members as trouble-shooter/intervenor with local health authorities, police and bylaw enforcement to ensure reasonableness of approaches during the crisis and to avert tickets for infractions. In Ontario, this meant frequent conversations with enforcement, and provincial governments, keeping many business’ curb-side sale operations open, as well as Ontario-based distribution centres.
  • Worked with governments and local authorities to protect curb-side activity during pandemic. In Ontario, this included actively pushing definitions with SOLGEN to allow many retailers to operate curb-side throughout Stage 1. As Ontario provides additional clarity over its “Second Wave” rules, RCC continues to push a narrative supportive of curb-side, and preventing further shutdowns of bricks-and-mortar retail, in contrast to other service industries.
  • Protecting retailers against frivolous COVID-19 lawsuits and insurance premium increases by pushing for a “best effort” duty of care for compliance with health laws. In Ontario, a bill is currently in committee which, if passed, will enact protection.
  • Worked with governments to keep merchants open for as long as possible within public health constraints at the outset of the crisis and to re-open early in the recovery period, relative to other service industries. In Ontario, this meant delaying original restrictions, and keeping the first ‘essential business definition’ broad in scope. It meant several changes to what types of retail construction projects were ‘essential’, as well as timely reopening of garden centres, to save the commercial season.
  • Obtained reasonable rules for dressing-room use and for quarantining of tried-on apparel and footwear.

  • Advocated to remove the establishment of a public health rating in Bill 99, an act to amend food product safety.
  • Pushed to allow for consultation in 2022/23 for a draft regulation modifying the current food regulation before the final regulation is sanctioned in 2024/25.
  • Supported the repeal of the Act Respecting Stuffing and Upholstered and Stuffed Articles in the Bill 103 (Red Tape Bill).
  • Persuaded the Ministry of Agriculture in 2021 to set up a system that will ensure and facilitate access of inspection reports to impacted retail locations and their respective head offices.
  • Provided member and RCC commentary on proposed regulatory amendments for the recovery and reclamation of products, such as batteries, appliances, electronics, and more.
  • Negotiated with all governments to ensure COVID-19 related closures, circuit breakers, capacity restrictions, and inspection blitzes either did not impact or had a light impact on RCC members.
  • Convinced the Quebec government to increase the salaries of employees earning less than $2,000/month by $400 while CERB was available to keep them on the job.
  • Advocated for the reopening of all non-essential businesses during the 1st wave and the complete reopening on Sundays.
  • Lobbied aggressively to keep non-essential retailers fully open during the 2nd wave (until Christmas) informing members about the best practices to follow to comply with public health instructions while maintaining open communications with the Quebec government, mall owners, retailers, and media.
  • Advocated strongly to allow for curb-side pick up for non-essential retailers during 2nd wave.
  • Pressured by the RCC, the Committee on Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) announced the development of a certification program to produce non-medical masks.

  • Successfully pushed the Atlantic provinces to take harmonized actions to combat COVID-19. This included rules surrounding government inspections, mandatory non-medical mask wearing and the creation of an Atlantic Bubble to provide retailers with access to additional customers.
  • Succeeded in giving most Atlantic retailers the choice to remain open during the 1st wave of COVID-19 and giving all retailers this choice during the 2nd wave.
  • RCC effectively worked with each province during the first wave to ensure that provincial lists of ‘essential retailers’ were as broad as possible. eg: electronics retailers, office supplies, discount stores, etc. could remain open.  For the retailers that had to close, RCC was able to ensure that they could all engage in delivery and curb-side pickup.
  • RCC succeeded in ensuring that the rules surrounding mandatory non-medical mask wearing are harmonized between each Atlantic Province.
  • RCC engaged in significant media to promote the need for Atlantic Canadians to support retailers in their local communities.
  • RCC succeeded in securing load priority for food and pharma products on Marine Atlantic between March and October 2020.
  • RCC fielded daily calls from retailers (members and non-members) who were desperate for assistance in navigating various govt programs to access relief funding, etc.
  • RCC was one of the first industry associations to pitch the idea of an Atlantic Bubble.  The bubble was a huge success and allowed businesses to access additional customers.
  • RCC succeeded in having each OHS / WCB division commit that businesses only needed to show that they engaged in best efforts re customers wearing masks, maintaining physical distancing, etc. (eg: there needs to be some individual responsibility).  RCC also succeeded in securing a commitment that each of these OHS / WCB inspectors would focus on education instead of fines for most infractions of the COVID rules.
  • RCC effectively fought off ignorant opinions by politicians (especially in Newfoundland) who were publicly alluding that while local milk producers could not sell their product, grocery retailers were unnecessarily limiting the amount of milk that customers could purchase.
  • Played a significant role as each province’s Public Health Division drafted retail rules for operating in a COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Ensured that the rules for operating in a COVID-19 pandemic were generally easy and straightforward (eg: During the first wave, RCC ensured there were no hard limits on the number of people allowed in a store, hours of operation, etc.).  The main rule was simple – maintain 2 metres squared of physical distancing.
  • Successfully pushed back against inspectors who were not inspecting in a coordinated fashion (eg: Public Health Inspectors and OHS Inspectors were interpreting the COVID-19 rules differently).  Worked with each Atlantic Province to ensure that each inspection division worked in a harmonized manner.

Nova Scotia

  • No retail was forced to close in NS during the pandemic
  • Continued to work with the NS government and relevant RCC members on loosening the rules regarding the sale of beer, wine, and ready-to-drink products.
  • Worked with the Department of Environment in its pre-consultation as it looked to develop new extended producer responsibility programs for batteries and lighting while adding items to the existing EPR program for electronics.

New Brunswick

  • Collaborated with RCC members, the New Brunswick government, and the Encorp Atlantic Board of Directors to move forward with a plan to modernize the province’s Beverage Containers Program. This is the first step in a more ambitious plan which will likely result in an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for beverage containers by 2023.
    • Advocated for changes to New Brunswick’s draft PPP (Packaging/Printed Paper) regulations that benefitted RCC members. RCC continues to work with Recycle NB and RCC members on developing a common interpretation of the finalized regulations that will benefit the Producer Responsibility Organization (PRO) and RCC members.
  • Averted a 2021 trucking blockade in New Brunswick by negotiating with both the truckers and the New Brunswick government. The truckers were upset over COVID-19 related rules that would have kept truckers in an ongoing state of home isolation when they were not working.
  • RCC succeeded in convincing government to delay its consultation regarding the implementation of a PPP program, due to the pandemic.
  • Atlantic Bubble Border Checks: During the first wave, the border checks into NB were becoming unruly with massive delays.  RCC convinced the government to create a dedicated lane for commercial traffic to ensure free flow of goods.  RCC eventually convinced the government to abandon the border checks all together for its border with NS and PEI (the bridge).
  • RCC succeeded in getting the single use plastic bag bans for Greater Moncton delayed from April 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020. 

Newfoundland & Labrador

  • During the storm of November 2021 and resulting washout of TransCanada Highway and throttling of the crucial Port-Aux-Basques harbour, RCC Atlantic worked daily with Marine Atlantic, the Premier’s Office, and Emergency Measures Office to successfully open the much smaller and seasonal Marine Atlantic dock in Argentia (east coast) during the two-week highway shutdown. RCC continues to coordinate with the Red Cross, various levels of government, transportation companies, and members to ensure that retail products are provided to people during times of need.
  • Obtained vaccination exemptions for retail employees from the Newfoundland and Labrador government. Because of RCC’s efforts, many of the employees who work in pharmacies – located inside of mass merchant retail stores – do not have to be vaccinated to continue working. RCC was also successful in delaying the start of the mandatory vaccination mandate from early Fall 2021 to December 17, 2021.
  • Gained amendments from the Newfoundland and Labrador government regarding its sugary beverage tax. RCC secured exemptions for several beverage products while also extending the original four-month implementation timeline to twelve months.
  • RCC succeeded in getting the single use plastic bag bans for Newfoundland & Labrador delayed from April 1, 2020 to October 1, 2020. 
  • RCC successfully thwarted suggestions by both governments to not allow customers to try on apparel in-store / to force retailers to quarantine apparel (tried on by customers) for 72 hours.

Prince Edward Island

  • RCC succeeded in convincing government to delay its consultation regarding the possible ban of various single use items due to the pandemic.
  • RCC successfully thwarted suggestions by both governments to not allow customers to try on apparel in-store / to force retailers to quarantine apparel (tried on by customers) for 72 hours.

Resources

RCC members have access to a wide variety of resources to help retailers stay informed.

Weekly members only town hall briefings with access to experts, the latest COVID-19 information, and our government relations team who are there to answer your questions.

Always stay informed on the latest information and regulations affecting your business with our Retail policy news and COVID-19 updates bi-weekly newsletter. 

Our #VoteRetail election resources give you answers about where parties stand on key retail issues in your region and ways to get involved.

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