Canadian Province Passes Law Protecting Sabbath Observers

Jewish merchants who are Sabbath observers have been exempted from a new Provincial law that forbids most retail stores to remain open on Sundays. The new law, believed to be the first of its kind enacted in Ontario, went into effect Jan. 1. Its primary purpose was to restrain large supermarkets that have remained open on Sundays and national holidays. Certain small shops employing three or fewer people, are exempted.

As a result of representations by the Canadian Jewish Congress in association with the Seventh Day Adventists, an amendment was added to remove the Sunday ban from retail businesses that are closed for “a period of 24 consecutive hours in a period of 32 hours immediately preceding Sunday” which occupy a relatively small area and employ less than eight persons. Jewish retail shops operated by Sabbath observers largely fall into this category.

A proposal to add the words “for religious reasons” to the amendment was struck out on grounds that mention of religion in a Provincial law may render it unconstitutional. Only the Federal government is entitled to deal with religious matters in Canada.

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