Sept. 19 holiday creating 'fractious environment' on P.E.I., says business group

·2 min read
Virginia MacIsaac says Grand Senses Spa in Charlottetown has been busy rebooking appointments after deciding to close on Monday to observe the day of the Queen's funeral. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)
Virginia MacIsaac says Grand Senses Spa in Charlottetown has been busy rebooking appointments after deciding to close on Monday to observe the day of the Queen's funeral. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC - image credit)

The Sept. 19 one-time statutory holiday announced Tuesday has left many Island businesses scrambling.

The federal government announced Tuesday that this coming Monday will be a federal holiday to coincide with the state funeral for Queen Elizabeth II. The P.E.I. government followed suit, meaning businesses have to either close or give their employees extra pay.

Virginia MacIsaac, general manager of Grand Senses Spa in Charlottetown, said the decision put a lot of last-minute pressure on the business. They have decided to close, and have been busy rebooking appointments.

"If we stay open, there is a statutory holiday pay that comes into play, which does affect our bottom line," she said.

"Secondly, it's also what our community here on Prince Edward Island would — how they would view our business if we did stay open."

Businesses said the added pressure and expense could have been avoided with better planning and consultation.

"This is pitting employees and Labour Standards Act versus the impediments and the priorities of business in which to operate efficiently. I think that's wrong," said Blake Doyle, president of the Summerside Chamber of Commerce.

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

"We shouldn't have that conflict and I think it has created a bit of a fractious environment."

Until last year, September only had one statutory holiday: Labour Day.

Then the federal government introduced the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, marked on Sept. 30.

And with the one-time holiday announced Tuesday, P.E.I. will have three statutory holidays in just one month this year.

Unfortunately, it took the decision that will cost the most to businesses. — Louis-Philippe Gauthier

Louis-Philippe Gauthier, a vice president with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said P.E.I. could have followed other provinces and marked the day without making it difficult for business.

"The provincial government in P.E.I. had multiple options in front of it. Unfortunately, it took the decision that will cost the most to businesses."

Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC
Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC

Businesses that are choosing to stay open hoping it's worth it. With a cruise ship due in town, they don't want to miss out on customers, especially after a few tough years due to COVID-19.

"We just decided to stay open again because it's our busy season," said Jenna Greeley of Town City, a clothing and accessories store in Charlottetown.

"We couldn't really afford to take that extra day off, as we might like to."