Winnipeg Meals Fares open on stat vacation, once more

The owner of a Winnipeg grocery store chain opened his doors on Canada Day despite having previously received a fine for violating the Retail Business Holiday Closing Act.

Munther Zeid told CTV News all five Food Fare locations were open Monday.

“We thought long and hard about it and we believe that we have the right to open,” said Zeid. “People deserve to have a choice of what they want to do on their holiday, our staff are given the choice to work on this day.”

The Retail Business Holiday Closing Act says Manitoba stores with four or less employees can be open on stat holidays, along with restaurants, liquor and cannabis stores, and businesses that provide essential needs.

Food Fare isn’t covered by the exceptions, but this isn’t the first time its owner has chosen to open doors despite provincial law prohibiting it.

On Easter weekend, Zeid received a $10,000 fine for being open Good Friday.

READ MORE: Grocery store owner fined $10K for opening on Good Friday

It was later determined he should not have been given a pre-set fine. That fine amount will now be determined during an upcoming court date.

“The fine has been eliminated, I still have a summons to appear in court but nothing has happened yet, the date of it hasn’t come up yet,” said Zeid.

READ MORE: Food Fare owner shouldn’t have been given pre-set fine: Police

Province pops by

As the store ignored the rules Monday, two workers from the province’s Employment Standards department visited the Food Fare in Silver Heights.

The province confirmed to CTV News that Employment Standards officers went to the business, saying it was “part of an ongoing investigation under The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act and The Employment Standards Code.”

“We asked them to leave the property, upon doing that they told us they could issue us a fine for a thousand dollars for every employee that we did not give names for, plus they could issue us another ticket for being open on the closing act days,” said store manager, Fouzie Zeid.

In an email to CTV News, a spokesperson for the province said:

“Food Fare is required to be closed on statutory holidays as stated in The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act because it doesn’t meet any of the exemptions that would allow it to be open as a retailer. Specifically, it doesn’t ordinarily operate with four employees or less (including the owner). Employment Standards has previously warned Food Fare for operating in violation of The Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act.

“The province recognizes Manitobans have diverse opinions about the rules for holiday openings for retail businesses. There are a number of different views on the topic and we’ll continue to listen to what Manitobans have to say, including small businesses, employees and consumers.”

Food Fare management and ownership CTV News has spoken with said they believe they should have the right to stay open and they will continue to do so until the law is changed.

Shoppers react

Shoppers who spoke with CTV News believe the store should have the right to be open.

One shopper said the public is served well at Food Fare and some people don’t have access to transportation to shop elsewhere, while another said in a 24-7 world, “impositions do not work.”

But a third shopper said while access to food is important every day, they’d prefer to see stores open fewer hours on holidays.

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