P.E.I. businesses hope extra sales make up for extra wages on unplanned stat holiday

·2 min read
Julia Campbell, co-owner of the Anne of Green Gables Store and JEMS Boutique, says the government’s decision to make the day a stat holiday will hurt businesses' bottom lines.  (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)
Julia Campbell, co-owner of the Anne of Green Gables Store and JEMS Boutique, says the government’s decision to make the day a stat holiday will hurt businesses' bottom lines. (Steve Bruce/CBC - image credit)

Many businesses chose to remain open on the one-time statutory holiday Monday, even though it meant paying extra to staff.

Last week, the province announced Sept. 19 would be a stat holiday to mark the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, leaving businesses little time to prepare.

But with tourists still around with money to spend, closing for the day was not the best option for many P.E.I. restaurants and seasonal businesses.

"It's difficult to shut down all business, even though it is a historical important event," said Coady Campbell, manager of the Water Prince Corner Shop in Charlottetown.

"But we'll get through it. It's just another challenge. We've been through many the last couple years."

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

For employees working Monday, it meant a bigger paycheque — up to two and a half times their usual wage.

Robyn Murphy, who works at JEMS Boutique, said she's happy for the extra pay, though as a parent, she'd trade it for a day when schools and daycares aren't closed.

"I know a lot of friends who are not in the best predicament for sure with this situation, with schools being closed and daycares being closed. It's a struggle for a lot of people."

Julia Campbell, co-owner of JEMS Boutique and the Anne of Green Gables Store, said the government's decision to make the day a stat holiday will hurt businesses' bottom lines.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"We felt it was a very frustrating decision. But there's nothing we can do, except keep our doors open today, and hope the traffic we have in here counters the loss of wages we'll have."

Many in the construction industry felt they couldn't take the day off either, though the general manager of the  Construction Association on P.E.I. estimates Island companies will pay an extra $4 million in wages for the day.

"Industry is just so crazy busy.," said Sam Sanderson.

Steve Bruce/CBC
Steve Bruce/CBC

"We need every available minute we have to work on the projects. Every project on the go was pre-bid long before this holiday was announced, and the expenses were not budgeted for. So every project is taking a big hit today."

There is another statutory holiday coming up next Friday, Sept. 30, for the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Because it's an annual holiday, businesses and workers said they will at least be able to plan ahead for that one.