RCC’s Ontario retail focus as the Legislature reopens in September - Retail Council of Canada
Coronavirus | Finance & Taxation | Ontario

RCC’s Ontario retail focus as the Legislature reopens in September

September 1, 2020

As the Legislature resumes and Ontario retailers concentrate on recovery, RCC will be continuing our advocacy in several areas, with a particular emphasis on:

Public health unit harmonization

Throughout the pandemic, on top of provincially mandated regulations, local health units have had authority to pass additional rules that apply to their jurisdiction. These rules have been varied, and some have been largely unrelated to curbing the spread of COVID-19. (For example, some health units forced retailers to post limits on milk purchases, other areas required dedicated staff to monitor parking lots, and cashier lines, even during low traffic periods. And, as for how masks are to be used, today there are 32 different rules in Ontario that have been mandated by the different local public health units). RCC continues to encourage Ontario to introduce legislation that will harmonize local health unit decision-making to ensure that businesses aren’t faced with store-specific operational plans to conform to unique rules.

COVID-19 liability

What is deemed the ‘best practice’ for retailers has shifted dozens of times over the last few months. For business owners who’ve done their best to adapt to evolving situations, we believe there should be a ‘good faith’ standard to mitigate liability associated with COVID-19, to prevent our members from dealing with unnecessary lawsuits.

RCC continues to encourage Ontario to introduce legislation that will create a ‘good faith’ metric for business, specifically related to COVID-19 liability.

Business supports

RCC will continue to encourage Ontario to think about various ways it supports businesses as they transition through recovery. These include: direct business support programs, making some of the initiatives that were temporarily adopted to render operations more efficient permanent (e.g. off-peak delivery). RCC is also pushing for the adoption of an ‘economy in recovery’ lens which will protect businesses as the government shifts some program costs from municipalities to businesses. For example, the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP) is nearing completion of shifting over $150 million in Blue Box costs; while industry is supportive of this transition, RCC will be cautioning government on putting measures in place to prevent additional ‘scope creep’ that could unfairly burden businesses.

Don’t see your priority listed here, or want to discuss other areas of Ontario policy? Reach out to your RCC Ontario team by emailing Sebastian Prins at sprins@retailcouncil.org.