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.

Also see RCC’s retail economic recovery plan 2021.

Recent News and Wins

The COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented situations for retailers of all sizes. RCC has worked tirelessly on your behalf to help you prepare, persevere, and adjust to the new reality.

Highlighted National Wins

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

  • Obtained several extensions to the CEWS program, first to September 2020 and later to June 2021.
  • Played a key role in convincing government to allow CEWS on a proportionate basis from July 2020 onward for all retailers who experience revenue reductions.
  • The primary business group securing “top-up” CEWS assistance of up to 25% (now up to 35%) – for the most negatively affected retailers.

Canadian Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

  • Pressed successfully for direct support to tenants through CERS, in preference to support flowing to landlords under the previous CECRA.
  • Worked successfully for the elimination of the initial 70% revenue-drop threshold in favour of a proportionate basis approach.
  • Achieved the removal of the $20 million enterprise cap and raised the monthly gross rent limit from a cap of $50,000 to the first $75,000, allowing more retail locations to qualify.

Highlighted Regional Wins

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

  • As a result of extensive conversations and meetings with the province, no retail store was ever obligated to close during the pandemic.
  • 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 achieved temporary relief on rules impacting deliveries and road use to enable members to deliver goods to their stores 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. These rules will remain in force until 45 days after the final extension of the provincial COVID-19 state of emergency.
  • 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

  • Advocated for Alberta retailers to be subjected to capacity restrictions of 25% (now 15%) 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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • With the recent 2nd wave, actively pushing 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.

  • 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

New Brunswick

  • 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

  • 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.

Be heard. Save money. Stay informed.

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