Canada's largest private sector union is slamming the Ford government over a proposed plan to reduce statutory holidays for front-line retail workers.

Chris MacDonald, the assistant to the Unifor national president, told CP24 on Thursday evening that the provincial government is planning to cut the number of statutory holidays from nine to three, allowing many retailers that have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic to open on those days.

"It just comes out of nowhere for us. We had no idea that provincial government was going to weigh in on this issue," MacDonald said, adding that unions have been fighting for years with municipalities to keep these statutory holidays for retail workers.

While the province has been consulting several chambers of commerce and other groups about the plan, he said the unions were only told about it during a recent technical briefing.

"This just adds to the precarity of workers and the non-guarantee of jobs in this retail sector that they have," MacDonald said.

Unifor have more than 20,000 members in Canada working in the retail and wholesale sectors.

He noted that large retailers, including grocery store chains, have wanted to see these changes for a long time.

"Once they get used to opening on statutory holidays, we're going to see this happen, and we're going to see it become a permanent thing," MacDonald said.

"We're completely opposed to it."

Reducing statutory holidays means taking away the already only guaranteed time workers have with their family, he said.

"The problem is this is our family time," MacDonald said. "Our members have said, including single mothers, where do I get daycare on a statutory holiday? How can I take care of those things when these are the only guaranteed days that I currently have to be with my family?"

The statutory holidays in Ontario include New Year's Day, Family Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day.

The news comes after several grocery stores decided last week to end the $2 per hour premium that it was paying to its workers during the pandemic.

CP24 has reached out to the province for comment.