‘Not All In This Together’

Restaurants Canada is continuing to call for a sector-specific support package to ensure foodservice businesses can bring more than 400,000 Canadians back to work.

Todd Barclay, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, said: “Unfortunately, we’re not all in this together. One out of every five jobs lost during the first six weeks of lockdown last year was from the foodservice sector. More than a year into this pandemic, one out of every three jobs lost is now from our sector.”

According to the April Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, more than two thirds (70.9%) of the 503,000 jobs still missing from the Canadian economy in the wake of COVID-19 are from the foodservice sector.

Factoring in the 80,700 employees who didn’t work any hours last month, there are still 437,500 fewer people working in the foodservice sector than there were in February 2020.

With a number of provinces prolonging or increasing dining restrictions as they continue to contend with the third wave of the pandemic, further foodservice job losses will likely be reported in May.

Olivier Bourbeau, Restaurants Canada vice president, Federal and Quebec, pointed out that: “Restaurants are key to feeding Canada’s recovery and bringing back nearly half a million jobs still missing from the economy, but only if they have the support they need to survive the road to recovery.”

Bourbeau continued: “The vast majority of foodservice businesses have been operating at a loss or barely breaking even throughout the entire pandemic, with nearly half consistently losing money for more than a year. They have been counting on the rent and wage subsidies to be the bridge they need to stay alive until dining restrictions are lifted and they can truly start to recover without the help of emergency support.”

In its latest survey, Restaurants Canada found that:

  • 8 out of 10 foodservice businesses have been operating at a loss or barely scraping by throughout the entire pandemic, with 45% consistently losing money for more than a year.
  • 7 out of 10 restaurant operators continuing to lose money expect they’ll need at least a year to return to profitability.

Said Bourbeau: “If restaurants are forced to contend with less and less from the critical wage and rent subsidies before they’re able to operate without them, many will have to give up and close their businesses down for good. They just won’t have the working capital they need to make the transition from survival to revival.”

Restaurants Canada is calling on the federal government to immediately introduce a sector-specific Restaurant Survival Support Package containing the following measures:

  • An exemption from the scheduled scale-back of the rent and wage subsidies for the highly affected foodservice sector, and an extension of these vital programs for restaurants until at least April 2022.
  • The option for any restaurants eligible for the wage subsidy to also apply for added funding through the Canada Recovery Hiring Program.
  • Partial forgiveness for all government-backed loans and an extension of application deadlines for existing programs.
  • Tax credits to defray costs of COVID-19 health and safety expenditures.

For more, go to www.restaurantscanada.org .