Manitoba Government House Leader Kelvin Goertzen says we are probably still months away from wide open Sunday shopping in Manitoba.

The provincial Progressive Conservatives introduced legislation last year to remove all restrictions on Sunday and holiday shopping, except for Remembrance Day. Goertzen explains this law would then place the discretion on individual municipalities, which could then make their own decision on whether or not to allow Sunday shopping.

Goertzen says Manitoba is all over the map when it comes to Sunday shopping. Some municipalities have had Sunday shopping for a long time, while other communities have remained dark on Sundays. Then, there are the hybrid locations that have a mixture of stores that are open and closed on Sundays.

"It really puts the power into the hands of the municipal councils to make that decision," says Goertzen.

According to Goertzen, whether a piece of legislation moves quickly or slowly depends on the opposition. He notes the Conservatives would have expected the Sunday shopping legislation to pass either in the June portion of the House sitting or as late as September or October. However, he says a couple of factors have prevented that from happening.

First of all, Goertzen says thanks to some stalling tactics, the NDP slowed down all legislation at the beginning of the session. And then COVID-19 hit our province, which interrupted the schedule of the assembly and interrupted bills as well.

"We are kind of in this unknown situation now where it is still possible that the bill could pass in October if there is the willingness by the opposition to pass it," he says. "Or it's possible it could be as late as next year."

Goertzen says it looks like October of 2020 is the earliest this legislation could pass, while the latest is October of 2021.

"It really depends on whether or not the opposition allows this and other pieces of bills to pass," explains Goertzen. "There have been pieces of legislation that have passed in this sitting, in fact, quite a number, but they do get to select which ones they want to prioritize and let move more quickly, this wasn't one of them."

Goertzen says all this does is cause uncertainty for businesses and municipalities who may have been planning for this. Yet, in reality, he says because of COVID-19, he has not been getting many calls related to Sunday shopping or fielding many questions.

"It's been a disruption for sure but they are dealing with other disruptions that are more significant," notes the House Leader.

Meanwhile, Goertzen says exactly what this bylaw will look like, could vary from one municipality to another. Even within a mall setting, a contract that a tenant has with a landlord could dictate how many hours they can be open.

"It really puts the decision making in the power of the local municipalities and then whatever arrangements are happening between the landlords and the tenants," he says.