Bad Sunday

If you’d gone to the Atlantic Superstore on Easter Sunday, you’d have found the doors closed, but not for the reason you think. True, it’s a holy day for observant Christians but, unlike Good Friday, Nova Scotia law does not consider it a paid holiday. However, the law DOES require big retail stores to close, which means their employees, who are not unionized, can’t work and therefore don’t get paid.

For them, it’s Bad Sunday.


Confused? The link above is the government’s attempt to explain it, but it can be head-scratcher. It helps to remember this: government can force stores to close whether or not it’s a paid holiday.

The workers affected are in retail stores greater than 4,000 square feet (370 square metres). That means the most useful stores, selling goods such as groceries and hardware, are closed on Bad Sunday — with no legal requirement for holiday pay.

Many retail employees are not even aware of this because they’re on shift work, so the bosses simply avoid scheduling anyone for Bad/Easter) Sunday. That means the loss of an outrageous number of paid shifts, a loss obscured by the scheduling process.

Retail folks not doing shift-work, however, are well aware they’re getting docked and they don’t like it.

The unions don’t care because their members are covered by collective agreements and therefore exempt from this law. In addition to Good Friday, they typically get Easter Monday off with pay. Some of the larger non-union shops follow suit because management would rather not take a stand.

This is what the Nova Scotia government does with its non-union employees, most of whom are managers. The union long ago negotiated Good Friday and Easter Monday as paid holidays. Managers get the same deal without having to bargain for it.

Adding to the confusion is a long list of very specific exceptions to Bad Sunday. It includes taverns, prefabricated home sales and fish stores, to name a few. Detail lovers can find more here, under “Exceptions”.

As for consumers, well, they can get drunk on Bad Sunday, but they can’t buy a hammer.


6 thoughts on “Bad Sunday

  1. Wow I listened to your conversation with Sheldon MacLeod, First off the courts never struck down the Sunday shopping ban, this is clearly written on the courts web site – In order to put this entire matter in the proper perspective I will repeat, yet again, what this application is NOT about. It is not about any social or political considerations respecting the appropriateness of Sunday shopping; nor is it about the constitutional authority of the legislature to enact legislation dealing with Sunday shopping; nor is it about the protection of vulnerable retail employees being required to work on Sundays. This application is simply about the scope of the authority or power granted to the Governor in Council (Cabinet) to make regulations pursuant to the Act.
    Maureen MacDonald’s comments in the legislature. Yes, Mr. Speaker, there were people who were very happy that Sunday shopping was coming because that’s what they wanted and there were people who weren’t so happy, especially retail workers and small, independent retail shop owners, and corner store operators and certainly members of many Christian denominations. Also, we have to acknowledge that there were people who probably didn’t care at all, one way or another. But the thing that struck me about all of those different points of view was what the Leader of the Liberal Party said, and I completely concur with his remarks. The absolute confusion and the genuine concern that people all across the spectrum, in terms of their viewpoints on this issue felt, when the government made their incredible flip-flop on this very important issue and essentially hid behind Mr. Justice Richards’ decision and I think added to the confusion in the public. I wouldn’t say wilfully added because that would be impugning motive, which isn’t permitted here, Mr. Speaker, but certainly their position added to the confusion and perpetuated the idea that somehow the courts had struck down Sunday shopping in our province. That simply did not occur.
    The plebiscite we had was binding and the government went against our wishes and opened the doors up to Sunday shopping against our wishes.
    Rick Howe on the following day admitted he was wrong and that in deed the plebiscite was binding – . Mark Parent did an interview on You tube with me and also said that the plebiscite wasn’t binding – . To which the plebiscite was binding – it’s all on the government web site.
    The public was misled on this whole issue from the start. You claim if this went to the supreme court that it would have been struck down. Hello? You do not know the outcome no more than what I do. Can you predict when lightning is going to hit? We can look for any excuse we want to allowing these stores to be open 24/7. Far as Easter Sunday being a paid holiday, bring it on…all levels of government are being paid for it. So why not retail? I’m so darn tired of this inequality in the way retail workers are treated. All levels of government are off….over the holidays. Your comment shop til you drop? We are human beings too, dentist offices are closed…an essential service…my doctors office is closed an essential service..banks are closed, government offices, ,registry of motor vehicles , teachers are off and all levels of government. We are part of the community too! You speak of the unions and what they have…all the more reasons why legislation is needed to protect the workers, not screw them. Have you been in these stores? People are sent home all the time…YES all the time..WHY? If Sunday shopping was so profitable…why are we fighting for 15 dollars an hour? We would already have it..!! No one would be losing hours or sent home. These are the other days, I’m speaking of that the stores are open. The only reason business and government told us that if stores were open longer it would give people work was to suck and scam people in to accept this BS. Their is no extra money by being open another day, sales are just spread six days into seven.
    Valerie Payn spokeperson for the Chamber of Commerce admits that there is no extra money being made by being open on Sundays “Given that per capita expenditure (adjusted for inflation) has not increased it appears also that the opportunity to shop an extra day has not driven people to purchase what they don’t need any more than they did before, they can just do it at a time that is more convenient to them.”

    So it’s convenient to them?? How about opening everything on a Sunday, then people will sing a different tune. I’m tired of all the lies and the mainstream media that misled people about Sunday shopping in this province. The plebiscite was binding and the courts never struck down the ban. You are welcome to visit my blog –

    Tony Lohnes
    Save Our Sundays


    1. You are correct: the court simply ruled the government had overstepped its regulatory authority under the Act, which is an important difference from striking down the Act itself. I should not have relied on my memory while on the air. Thank you for straightening me out. BTW, I did state my belief that as to why Rodney MacDonald’s government didn’t appeal, but did not offer a legal opinion of my own.


      1. Your welcome, I’m happy that you acknowledged the truth, where so many people do not. I do wish you would have spoken about this on the air, Nova Scotians were misled and lied too, and the people should know the truth. Rodney MacDonald’s government didn’t appeal because they caved into what big business wanted. When you have a democratic vote, you honor it. Another reason they felt both opposition parties the NDP and the Liberals would vote against them and cause an election over Sunday shopping. It’s a simple solution, honor the binding plebiscite ! If we had to go to the polls, we could have held both opposition parties accountable. I take democracy seriously, we had a democratic vote. People died in wars to give us that right .The Rodney MacDonald government should have stood by us. If you remember years ago the Lords Day Act was changed to the Retail Uniform business Act. This was done so that the courts wouldn’t strike down any laws making stores close on Sundays or any holidays. The biggest problem with the Retail Uniform business Act, it was full of loop holes, that Pete’s did by separating his store into separate business’s so that he could open up on Sundays. When the Rodney MacDonald government opened stores up illegally their was a big fuss when the holidays went with the Sundays. The loop holes were fixed that retailers used to get around by opening up on Sundays. They fixed the loop holes for holidays, they could have done it for our Sundays and honored our vote. If we worried about every law that was passed by our political parties that could end up in a court room, we wouldn’t have any laws. The Rodney MacDonald government was catering to big business and what they wanted. It’s sad…retail workers deserve a lot better than this. In no way should we be treating our workers like this! Playing one occupation off against another was another successful win for big business and the media who carried out this propaganda for them . Why should someone at Tim Hortons work on Sundays , while Susan at the grocery store is off? So if you buy a new car, should we all have to go and buy one? These same comments made….weren’t comments like this ” Why should someone at Tim’s work on a Sunday ,while government offices, banks are off? All comments and guilt trips were directed at retail workers. My eyes are open, we were lied too, misled. The divide and conquer game went well for the corporations. If you do not have everyone with you and you’re divided , you do not have a lot of chance in winning. When other people talk about the minimum wage and inequality, having time off is no different. BTW one of the workers i spoke with today, told me the liquor stores were closed…government. Private liquor stores may have been open.


  2. Thanks for pointing this out, Turpin Labs. These machinations are complex! I’m glad you didn’t have to resort to using a spreadsheet to keep it all straight. So, people can get hammered on Bad Sunday, but they can’t buy a hammer. An interesting confluence of circumstances.


  3. You can buy a hammer the day before, like you would a can of corn. People deserve time off. BTW if you’re car is broken down you wouldn’t be able to buy that hammer, because you can not get your car fixed on Easter Sunday or any other Sunday. A holiday should be for everyone, including restaurants, call centers, Tim Horton’s . All levels of government are off, government offices are closed…and wait…wonder if you ordered that hammer through Amazon…don’t expect a letter carrier to deliver that hammer because they have Easter Sunday off and every Sunday off. So their are all kinds of ways looking at this. The media only promotes and pushes ways to suck retail workers into working, while the people who make good wages have it off. It’s all about inequality and retail is treated like this all the time. You can get hammered but you can not go to the dentist office…because they are closed. The right way to solve this is give all non essential services Easter Sunday off. Instead of playing one occupation off against another.

    Liked by 1 person

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