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Canadian foodservice is certainly in a class of its own.


If it’s true there is no education without adversity, Canadian foodservice is certainly in a class of its own.

Last week, we paused the regular CEO Note for an important update on the status of Restaurants Canada’s advocacy for an extension on the CEBA loan repayment deadline and to urgently request that members act now to save our industry by calling their local MP. Even though the House has now risen for the summer, we will not take our foot off the gas. You will continue to see efforts to engage the media and public to ensure the government understands the impact of the deadline and is motivated to take urgent action, keeping restaurants top-of-mind and calling on Minister Freeland to extend the CEBA loan deadline. 

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to spend three days in Ottawa meeting with operators and attending the Tourism HR Canada | RH Tourisme Canada board meeting. Tourism HR Canada is dedicated to cultivating and investing in a world-leading Canadian tourism and hospitality workforce by facilitating and enabling human resource activities that support a competitive, dynamic and resilient industry. The work they do is critical to making hospitality a desirable and sustainable career choice, and it is an honour to serve on their board of pan-Canadian sector leaders to help accelerate the attraction and retention of the top talent the tourism and hospitality industry needs to grow and thrive.

Continuing to engage in consistent, impactful and productive dialogue with key government representatives at the federal and provincial levels is a central component of Restaurants Canada’s government relations strategy. In Ontario, Tracy Macgregor, Vice-President, Ontario, and I were able to spend some time at Queen’s Park for meetings with various ministries to brief on and discuss the myriad challenges facing our industry. During a meeting with Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, we had the opportunity to share insights and ideas on how he and his team can support the foodservice industry. We were also able to share our message with Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport. 

Please take a few precious minutes to fill out the Restaurant Outlook Survey. To help inform our briefings and ensure we accurately represent the pulse of the industry, we need real member insights. Your first-person perspectives give a sense of urgency and resonance to the data Restaurants Canada’s Research team develops and amplifies the story of the people behind the numbers.  

Finally, I wanted to share a valuable tool recently created by the federal government. The Business Benefit Finder helps businesses source and discover a variety of active government programs, grants and other supports. This is an important, useful tool for all businesses, but most crucially for independent small businesses that may not be aware of current and available government resources, programs and opportunities they may be eligible for. 

Changes at Restaurants Canada 

Oliver Bourbeau Departs
On June 28th, Olivier Bourbeau moved on from his role as Vice-President, Federal and Québec. We are grateful for the time and energy he dedicated to his role and wish him the very best as he embarks on a new, Québec-based opportunity.  

Richard Alexander Promoted to New Executive Leadership Role
In light of the growing roster of priority federal files, the need for dedicated, proven leadership for the government relations team was recognized. Restaurants Canada is excited to announce Richard Alexander has been promoted to the position of Executive Vice-President, Government Relations and Public Affairs, where he will strengthen and support Restaurants Canada’s advocacy commitment and strategy.

Richard was appointed Vice-President, Atlantic Canada in June 2022. Since that time, he has led Restaurants Canada’s lobby and education on the Federal Court of Appeal’s decision regarding EI and CPP obligations on gratuities. He also secured hiring support from the four Atlantic provincial governments for our industry. 
For 17 years prior to joining Restaurants Canada, Richard was the Executive Director of the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council, where he ran multiple award-winning advocacy campaigns, and achieved many lobbying successes, including an $83 million reduction in Workers’ Compensation Premiums for employers and public sector pension plan reform.
We are looking forward to having Richard join us in Toronto, working out of our head office by September of this year.

Transition Plans are Underway
Over the summer, Restaurants Canada will be looking to fill the positions of Vice-President, Atlantic Canada and Vice-President, Québec & Federal Affairs and has enlisted external supports to see us through this period, assisting with fall planning and pre-budget submissions.

Federal Updates 

from Richard Alexander, Executive Vice President, Government Relations & Public Affairs

British Columbia Ports Strike
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) went on strike at British Columbia ports on July 1st, impacting more than 30 ports including Vancouver and Prince Rupert, the first- and third-busiest ports in Canada.  

The negative impacts of this strike are already impacting the Canadian economy, prompting the issue of a statement by Restaurants Canada President and CEO, Kelly Higginson.

On July 2nd, Restaurants Canada issued a press release asking the federal government to act immediately and pass back-to-work legislation and is working with a large coalition of business associations on this matter, including the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. 

On July 5th, the coalition issued a joint letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A Restaurants Canada follow-up letter to the Prime Minister is also in development.  

Federal Tourism Growth Strategy Announced
Restaurants Canada participated in, along with other tourism industry associations, the consultation on Canada’s new tourism strategy, announced on July 4th. 

The strategy focuses on five areas: investing in Canada’s tourism assets; embracing recreation and the great outdoors; partnering to grow Indigenous tourism; attracting more international events; and improving coordination through a federal ministerial council.

Joint Interchange Tax Letter Issued to Deputy Prime Minister Freeland
On May 18th, the federal government announced that small businesses with under $300,000 in Visa sales volume and under $175,000 in Mastercard sales volume will qualify for a lower fee. Unfortunately, credit card assessment fees would become taxable, and the tax is retroactive. The tax is paid by credit card processing companies, but it is feared that this cost will be downloaded to small businesses.  

Together with the CFIB, on July 5th, Restaurants Canada issued a joint letter to Christa Freeland for no taxation of assessment fees and no retroactivity. 

Updates from the Prairies and the North

 from Jennifer Henshaw, Vice-President, Prairies and the North

Advocacy and Outreach in the Prairies
Earlier this week, Jennifer Henshaw travelled to Winnipeg for a number of productive meetings with key government representatives including senior provincial government officials at Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries, senior staff from Minister Andrew Smith’s and Minister Kelvin Goertzen‘s offices, and Premier Heather Stefanson‘s Director of Policy & Strategic Initiatives. 

While in the city, Jennifer also attended a summit on the impacts of crime hosted by the Manitoba Restaurants and Foodservices Association (MRFA).

Along with provincial counterpart Shaun Jeffrey, President and CEO of the MRFA, and Brad Kramble, President and CEO of Salisbury House Restaurants of Canada, Jennifer met with Wab Kinew, Leader of the Official Opposition, Mark Wasyliw, Economic Development, Investment and Trade Critic, and Malaya Marcelino, Labour Critic, to discuss the foodservice industry’s operational challenges and key pre-election policy priorities.

Western Canada Updates

from Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice-President, Western Canada

Advocacy Efforts in the West
At the end of June, Restaurants Canada the BCRFA met with BC Premier David Eby and Brenda Bailey, Minister of Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation to follow up and reinforce Restaurants Canada’s recommendations for cost relief given the current debt and profitability crisis facing the foodservice industry. 

The Premier acknowledged the industry’s current challenges and committed to working with us on some long-term sector-specific cost relief options. The BC Government also supports our proposed CEBA repayment schedule and has written to federal small business Minister Ng in support of Restaurants Canada’s CEBA repayment schedule recommendation. Minister Bailey also promised to raise the CEBA issue in a meeting with Minister Ng this week.
Pre-Budget Submission for British Columbia
Restaurants Canada submitted its Pre-Budget Submission for British Columbia on June 16, 2023. 

Thank you to the members who provided valuable input and to those who filled out Restaurants Canada’s surveys to provide the information and data we need.

Prominent US Chains Show Confidence in Alberta Market
Crumbl Cookies & Chipotle Mexican Grill are expanding in Alberta, beginning in Calgary. Mark von Schellwitz applauded the move in the Calgary Herald, noting that the favourable tax conditions and low liquor prices make the province attractive to chains. “Alberta’s actually one of the usual places that U.S. chains expanding to Canada go into first because it’s probably got the most competitive tax and regulatory environment that’s the most similar to what they’re dealing with in the states that they’re operating in. So, not surprised at all.” 

Update on Edmonton’s Single-Use Item (SUI) Bylaw Compliance Concerns
On June 12th, Restaurants Canada and the Retail Council of Canada (RCC) issued a joint letter to the Edmonton Mayor and Council outlining operational compliance concerns related to Edmonton’s Single-Use Item (SUI) Bylaw, which came into effect July 1st. Follow-up meetings were held in late June, where concerns were presented in detail to City officials who acknowledged the concerns, particularly those related to on-premise reusables and bag fee confusion. The delegation was assured by Council that, initially, compliance will be education focused, with an intent to track small business formats that will be unable to comply. The City has also had conversations with RBI on reusable cup supply issues that may lead to delays in implementing the reusable cup provision of the bylaw. Restaurants Canada, RCC and City representatives plan to regroup in early September to discuss any compliance issues that are identified over the summer. 

For additional information, please visit the City of Edmonton Single-Use Item website which includes the bylaw and access to additional bylaw information including a SUI Bylaw Guide

Wishing everyone a prosperous summer season,


Kelly Higginson