On The Menu: An Open Letter To Doug Ford

Ontario Restaurants Need Data Transparency To Stay Open

In an open letter to Ontario Premier, Doug Ford, Ontario’s restaurants are calling for data to understand why they are being singled out with heightened restrictions as the province continues to respond to a second wave of COVID-19.

Arguing that restaurant dining rooms provide a safe alternative to private gatherings, Restaurants Canada and 44 leaders from Ontario’s foodservice sector are calling on the Premier for:

  • Clear and transparent data to understand what is driving government decisions related to dining restrictions.
  • Consultation with industry to address any concerns identified by the data.

Restaurants Canada president and CEO, Todd Barclay said that: “Restaurants deserve to see the data driving decisions impacting their operations and have a chance to work with government on solutions to keep their dining rooms open.”

Barclay pointed out that: “Since the start of the pandemic, foodservice operators have made major investments in new procedures, training, personal protective equipment and other means to ensure the highest levels of safety for their staff and patrons.”

And he continued: “Government should be doing everything possible to help them avoid the devastating consequences of indoor dining closures so they can continue contributing to the economic and social fabric of their communities.”

Restaurants Canada estimates that the indoor dining closures mandated in Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots have so far resulted in:

  • Sales losses of as much as 80% for full-service restaurants and more than 40% for quick-service restaurants.
  • Tens of thousands of jobs lost across the province, including 12,000 in Ottawa; 33,000 in Toronto; 14,900 in Peel Region; 8,800 in York Region

Indoor dining closures in Halton and Durham regions could mean another 8,500 job losses.

James Rilett, Restaurants Canada vice president, Central Canada, said: “Restaurants and the many small and medium-sized businesses that make up Ontario’s foodservice sector are a critical load-bearing pillar of the province’s economy.”

Rillett made it clear that: “Without transparent transmission data and further government support, half of all independent restaurants are at risk of closing within a year. This would not only be a terrible loss for communities across the province, but the many other businesses that rely on a thriving foodservice sector for their survival.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Ontario’s foodservice industry comprised approximately 38,000 establishments, contributing 4% to Ontario’s GDP and serving more than 9 million customers every day.

Restaurants also support a wide variety of other businesses across the province, indirectly supporting more than 110,000 jobs and typically spending more than $13 billion per year on food and beverage purchases, playing a critical role for Ontario farmers and the agri-food sector.

The industry association also asks that anyone who is interested in ensuring that restaurants receive the data they need to survive COVID-19 can send a letter to their MPP in support of the recommendations sent to Premier Ford by going to

Posted in COVID-19, News, Tourism Organizations, Trends & Research