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CEBA: What to do next.

As we near the end of the year, the sensation of accelerating time urges us to contemplate our journey, applaud our accomplishments and anticipate fresh starts. While the arrival of the new year typically sparks resolutions for self-improvement and renewal, those in the Canadian restaurant industry find themselves amid a four-year-long process of reimagining and reinventing, with no end in sight.

As you all are aware, the federal government has not yielded to the urgent pleas and first-person case stories from Restaurants Canada and the many other associations maintaining relentless CEBA advocacy pressure. If you haven’t already done so, I entreat you to join our letter writing campaign to Minister Chrystia Freeland. Our goal is to reach 100+ letters by Christmas Day. Please read EVP Government and Public Affairs, Richard Alexander’s section for more details.

By now, you have likely heard the Federal Government’s Single-use Plastics (SUPs) Prohibition Regulations were put into question after the Federal Court found the Order underpinning the regulations as unreasonable and unconstitutional and quashed the Order declaring it invalid and unlawful. While we await the government’s expected appeal of this decision, we advise that members who distribute, sell, supply or use the six categories of single-use plastic products subject to the regulations should continue to comply and not make any changes to their existing compliance plans.

We are continuing to communicate with contacts at Environment and Climate Change Canada and will continue to advocate on behalf of the industry regarding these regulations and changes. We will keep you posted as we learn more. In the meantime, have a look at the resources we have available on preparing for the ban and other regulations across the country.

Richard Alexander, EVP Government and Public Affairs and I headed back to Ottawa dark and early on December 12th to meet with Opposition Shadow Minister of Small Business, Brad Vis. The discussion was excellent and suggests support for capping the federal alcohol excise tax may be building.

That evening, Richard Alexander, Maximilien Roy, VP, Quebec and Federal Affairs, and I attended the annual Liberal Caucus holiday party. We were able to engage in several discussions with many familiar Liberals discussing our current policy needs and how we hope to work together to find meaningful solutions for our industry as well as share an interesting discussion with former Governor of the Bank of Canada Mark Carney. 

Image One, from left to right: Maximilien Roy, VP, Quebec and Federal Affairs, Kelly Higginson, President and CEO, and Richard Alexander, EVP Government and Public Affairs of Restaurants Canada; Image Two, from left to right: Cindy Woodhouse, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and Kelly Higginson, President and CEO of Restaurants Canada

I was also able to personally congratulate Chief Cindy Woodhouse who was elected as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) at the beginning of December. 

Back at head office, plans for RC Show 2024 in Toronto April 8-10th are reaching fever pace. This year’s theme is Level Up, and Garland Canada Culinary Competition is back, bigger than ever.

The Garland Culinary competition is a wonderful opportunity for members to consider elevating a culinary star from their operation by encouraging and supporting their registration in the competition. Competing on the culinary stage at RC Show is an incredible experience for emerging chefs, with the power to advance careers and put their restaurants and menus on the map. Applications close January 12th at 11:59 pm and the competition’s diversity and inclusion mandate holds space for 50% of the competitors to be women and prioritizes BIPOC culinary talent. You can get the full Garland Canada Culinary Competition details here.


From Richard Alexander | Executive Vice-President, Government Relations & Public Affairs |

Restaurants Canada Aggressively Lobbies Ottawa
Urgent advocacy efforts related to the CEBA loan extension deadline and other industry supports reach the 11th hour.

Restaurants Canada was in Ottawa three times over the last month, including November 20–22 and 27–29, for an 11th hour push on CEBA and to explore other supports for our industry.

The Federal Government has given a hard NO on CEBA. We need your help and strongly urge you to act today.

Our letter writing and social media campaign is getting a good response from the industry, but we need your help. If you haven’t already, visit our website and send a letter to Finance Minister Freeland and your MP:

Part of our lobby in Ottawa was to ask the Federal government to look for other ways to provide relief for the industry. We presented the Feds with three immediate inflation-fighting options:

  • Freeze the alcohol excise tax at the current level and forgo the 4.7 per cent planned increase.
  • Reduce or freeze EI premiums for the coming year.
  • Provide carbon tax rebates for the industry.

In the event your business is deemed ineligible for loan refinancing, you can contact your financial institution or call the CEBA call centre to get clarity:

CEBA Call Centre | TF: 1-888-324-4201

Federal Alcohol Excise Tax Campaign

Restaurants Canada is planning a national campaign to persuade the federal government to abandon the planned increase.

Restaurants Canada, together with industry partners, is in the planning stages of a campaign to convince the Federal Government NOT to go ahead with the planned 4.7 per cent Federal Alcohol Excise Tax increase. It is unconscionable that, given the state of the restaurant industry, the federal government has not yet altered their plans to increase this tax, and we must act soon.

We are considering an “on-site” or contextual campaign approach, promoting the issue to customers as they visit restaurants. Plans are still in their early stages but watch for an update in the new year. 

Restaurants Canada Launching new GR & PR Strategies in the New Year

The new strategies will focus on select policies with potential to decrease operator costs and relieve inflation.

RC’s growing Government Relations team is putting the finishing touches on new Government Relations and Public Relations strategies for issues at the federal and provincial levels. These strategies target select policies that have the potential to reduce costs for operators and provide relief from inflation. We have also revised our position on immigration and, together with industry partners will be driving this issue forward shortly. 

The goal with these new strategies is to have consistent and constant advocacy across the country for the next six months; advocacy that is timed in each region to maximize our impact and amplify each team member’s voice. The team is very excited to get moving on these new strategies and this new approach that will enable us to do more.


From Maximilien Roy | Vice-President, Federal and Quebec |

International Students
Restaurants Canada’s advocacy pays off but will continue as federal government announces an extension to the waiver on 20-hour-per-week off-campus work limit.

Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada Marc Miller announced an extension to the current waiver on the 20-hour-per-week limit for international students to work off campus: It is now extended to April 30, 2024.

This is good news on a policy file Restaurants Canada has advocated for. We will continue to push for a permanent increase to this 20-hour-per-week limit to help fill 100,000+ job vacancies the foodservice industry is facing.

Temporary Foreign Workers
Flexibility added to the federal Recognized Employer Pilot program.

As you may recall, the Recognized Employer Pilot program aims to streamline the temporary foreign worker hiring process, particularly for employers who use the program frequently. One of the eligibility criteria is that, to hire temporary foreign workers (TFWs), an employer must have received at least three positive LMIA decisions in the last five years, which was an issue for many foodservice operators who were impacted by the pandemic and did not submit an LMIA during that period.

The federal government has amended the pilot to account for employers who were impacted by COVID-19 policies. You may still be eligible if you received:

  • at least one positive LMIA in 2022 or 2023, and
  • 2 additional positive LMIAs in any of 2023, 2022, 2019, 2018, 2017 or 2016

To apply, simply submit an LMIA application as usual and make sure you choose the option to apply for the REP at the same time. Service Canada will then validate your eligibility and enroll you automatically. 


From Jordi Morgan | Vice-President, Atlantic |

New Brunswick Private Sector Paid Sick Leave

Restaurants Canada delivers submission opposing the proposed increase in paid sick leave for private sector employees.

The New Brunswick Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour (PETL) asked for feedback on the addition of between five and 10 days of paid sick leave for private sector employers in the Employment Standards Act.

Restaurants Canada has delivered a submission to the Minister indicating our opposition to such an action noting many restaurants and other foodservice businesses are not in any position to absorb additional costs, especially now.

CEBA Loan Repayment Deadline

Restaurants Canada sends letters to Newfoundland and Labrador MPs.
The CEBA loan deadline of January 18th continues to loom large. We are still fighting the battle to extend CEBA and, in addition to the national campaign, have written letters to Members of Parliament in Newfoundland and Labrador to meet with us to discuss options.

Atlantic Media Appearances
Interviews with Atlantic VP Jordi Morgan on critical industry issues.

Since joining Restaurants Canada, I’ve had the opportunity to participate in extended media interviews on the CEBA issue, inflation, and labour shortages on both the Todd Veinotte Show on CityNews 95.7 in Halifax (December 8th at 10 am) and with host Tim Powers on VOCM’s Open Line in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Nova Scotia EPR for PPP Program Portal is Open

Information has been shared with members to determine whether they are required to register.

Nova Scotia’s Extended Producer Responsibility Program for Packaging, Paper and Packaging-Like Products (EPR for PPP) continues to move forward.

Restaurants Canada has sent information to our members about the online portal, which is now open. Foodservice businesses with EPR obligations need to create an account and register by January 1st.


From Tracy Macgregor | Vice-President, Ontario |

Ontario Pre-Budget Submission
Call for recommendations from Restaurants Canada members.
It is that time of year again… when we begin work on our fiscal wish list. Pre-budget consultations kick off at the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs this week ahead of the spring budget. While we have previously submitted a list of initiatives to the Minister of Finance that would provide relief for the foodservice sector, we will be prioritizing and working with partner organizations to ensure that our pre-budget submission outlines the state of the restaurant industry and a summary of priority recommendations.

Restaurants Canada will submit ahead of the February 1st deadline. If you have any specific recommendations you would like to bring forward, please reach out to me in the next few weeks.

City of Toronto Restaurant Single Use Plastics Proposal
Restaurants Canada and the ORHMA request opportunity to provide feedback and consultation.
Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA) are collaborating to provide our concerns to the City of Toronto regarding proposed regulations around single use plastics that may present challenges to the foodservice sector. View our letter here.

Grow Your Business Online Grants Available
Restaurants Canada provides dedicated page to make it easy for eligible restaurants to apply.
The way Canadians do business has changed, and more business is being done online than ever before. In

an effort to support business and communities across the province, our partnership with the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, with the support of Government of Canada, provides access to the Canada Digital Adoption Program’s Grow Your Business Online Grants.

For smaller, consumer-facing businesses, including the foodservice sector, Grow Your Business Online Grants can help operators adopt e-commerce technologies. It is imperative for today’s foodservice operators to develop and implement e-commerce capabilities to remain competitive.

Eligible expenses through the grant (to a maximum of $2,400) include improvements to your current e-commerce platform (online reservation tools or ordering systems, electronic payments, new plug-ins), new subscription fees/costs, back-office software solutions for tracking/managing product inventory or fulfilling orders, software to track sales, offer discounts or establish a loyalty program, creation of customer data-bases, cyber security software to protect customer data (Norton, McAfee, Panda etc.), website search optimization (SEO), and more.

Restaurants Canada has a dedicated application page for foodservice operators to ensure you receive support and advice to help you access the grant. 

Ontario Announces a More Open Marketplace for Alcohol Sales by 2026
Restaurants Canada welcomes the news and looks forward to intensifying pricing and taxation discussions with government.
On December 14, the Ontario government announced that beginning no later than January 1, 2026, consumers will be able to buy beer, wine, cider, coolers, seltzers, and other low-alcohol, ready-to-drink beverages at all participating convenience, grocery and big box stores across the province. 

Some highlights:

  • The Master Framework Agreement (MFA) will not be renewed after it expires on December 31, 2025.
  • The Beer Store and LCBO will continue their retail operations in Ontario’s new marketplace.
  • The Beer Store has agreed to continue to run the province-wide recycling program for alcoholic beverage containers until at least 2031.
  • Ontario will provide a range of transitional and time-limited supports to Ontario-based producers to help with the transition to a more open marketplace.
  • The LCBO will be the exclusive wholesaler for all retailers, bars and restaurants selling alcohol.
  • The Beer Store has agreed to maintain its primary role in the distribution of beer to retailers, bars and restaurants until at least 2031.

Restaurants Canada welcomes the government’s commitment to meet with industry partners and stakeholders on priority transitional issues including licensing, wholesale pricing and taxes, mark-ups and fees. We will continue to press the need for wholesale pricing for our industry to ensure a more competitive environment that enables restaurants to thrive.


From Jennifer Henshaw | Vice-President, Prairies and the North |

Restaurants Canada meets with Manitoba Lawmakers
Discussions focused on the impacts of crime on restaurants and increased funding for business security upgrades.

Last week, Restaurants Canada, the MRFA and the CFIB met with Manitoba’s new Minister of Justice and the Attorney General to discuss the impacts of crime on Manitoba’s business community with a specific focus on the restaurant sector and advocated to expand and add additional funding to the NDP’s campaign commitment of $2.5 million in rebates for security updates like alarms, doorbell cameras and motion sensor lights ($300 rebate per business).

Manitoba Policy and Advocacy Discussions

Meetings with Manitoba Government officials on policy, liquor pricing discounts and 2024-25 budget priorities are ongoing.

We have also had several productive, policy-focused discussions with senior staff throughout the new Manitoba government. In January, I will be meeting with The Hon. Glen Simard, the new Minister responsible for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries on the need for a meaningful liquor pricing discount on all types of alcohol for licensees. I will also be in Manitoba to meet with The Hon. Jamie Moses, the new Minister of Economic Development, Investment, Trade and Natural Resources, as well as The Hon. Adrien Sala, Manitoba’s new Minister of Finance, to present Restaurants Canada’s 2024-25 Budget priorities.

Saskatchewan Advocacy Efforts Continue
Restaurants Canada expresses concerns related to the timing of the provincial minimum wage hike and the proposed increase in employer-paid sick days.

In Saskatchewan, Restaurants Canada continued advocacy work on several key policy files. Most recently, I wrote a letter to Carla Beck, Leader of the Official Opposition in Saskatchewan on behalf of our members to express our concerns and provide feedback on a number of sections in the Saskatchewan NDP’s Bill 613, The Saskatchewan Employment (Fairer Workplaces, Better Jobs) Amendment Act, 2023 including the proposal to push next year’s seven per cent minimum wage hike from October to January and the proposed introduction of 10 employer-paid sick days. While this is the opposition’s bill, and therefore is unlikely to pass, as the Saskatchewan Party has a majority, it is important to raise our industry’s serious concerns with the poorly timed bill and the complete lack of consultation with any relevant stakeholders.

From Mark von Schellwitz | Vice-President, Western Canada |

Alberta: Calgary Single-Use Items Bylaw
Restaurants Canada has resources to prepare members for implementation January 16, 2024.
On November 22nd Restaurants Canada hosted a webinar with the City of Calgary providing members with a presentation on Calgary’s Single-Use Items Bylaw which was passed last January and will be implemented on January 16th.

To help you prepare for implementation, more information on Calgary’s new Single-Use Items Bylaw can be found at here.

Alberta MLA Reception and Tourism & Hospitality Immigration Stream Update
An announcement on implementing the AAIP Tourism and Hospitality stream is expected in January.

From left to right: Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada VP, Western Canada and Muhammad Yaseen, Alberta Minister of Immigration and Multiculturalism

On behalf of Restaurants Canada, I was pleased to participate in the November 29th Alberta Hotel Association’s Christmas MLA reception where I had the opportunity to touch base with several Alberta MLAs and Ministers including Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Muhammad Yaseen. The following day I also met with Minister Yaseen’s office to discuss the final approval and implementation of the Alberta Advantage Immigration Program’s (AAIP) new Tourism and Hospitality Stream. An announcement implementing the new AAIP Tourism and Hospitality stream is anticipated in January 2024.

Alberta Passes Alberta Taxpayer Protection Amendment Act
Restaurants Canada’s recommendation and key campaign promise honoured by the provincial government.
As the Alberta Government concluded its first legislative session since the May election, it fulfilled a key affordability campaign promise and Restaurants Canada recommendation by passing Bill 1 the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Amendment Act which prevents the Alberta Government from introducing or increasing business or personal taxes without first having a referendum on the proposed new tax or tax increase.

BC Single-Use and Plastic Waste Regulation Amended
The amended regulation significantly pushes out the provincial ban on PVC cling wrap, but the ban on single-use shopping bags and foodservice accessories comes into effect December 20th.
On December 1st Restaurants Canada welcomed the news that the BC Government amended the Single-Use and Plastic Waste Regulation in response to Restaurants Canada member concerns and questions. Members will be relieved that the amended regulation significantly delays the ban on PVC cling wrap which is widely used in foodservice until July 1, 2028.

Other parts of the regulation including shopping bags, food service ware, and the ban on oxo-degradable packaging provisions, are also delayed and will be implemented July 15, 2024. However, it is important to note that the federal government’s single-use plastic shopping bag ban will still be implemented on December 20, 2023, and municipal single-use item bylaws will remain in place.

Other regulation provisions will still come into effect on December 20th including foodservice accessories (utensils, stir sticks, straws, lids, condiments, napkins, chopsticks, splash plugs, napkins, wet wipes, and garnishes). Effective December 20th these accessories will need to be provided by request or made available through self-service stations. Plastic single-use utensils, stir sticks, and chop sticks etc. are banned December 20th and must be replaced with wood or fibre utensils. Please see the updated Disposable Food Service Accessories Factsheet for more information.

If members have questions about the regulation, please email 

BC Legislature Passes Bill 48 – Labour Statutes Amendment Act
Restaurants Canada remains concerned about cost implications related to the legislation’s enhanced delivery driver employment protections.
Further to a previous CEO note update regarding the BC government’s November 16th App-Based Delivery Driver Protection Press Release highlighting the legislative changes that would soon be introduced, on November 20th, Bill 48- Labour Statutes Amendment Act was introduced providing the legislative framework to add app-based delivery driver employment protections. The legislation was quickly passed and received Royal Assent on November 30th.

Restaurants Canada continues to be concerned with the potential cost implications of the legislation and continues to consult with the Ministry of Labour on developing detailed app-based driver employment protection regulations flowing from the new legislation.

Apply for BC’s Securing Small Business Rebate
Applications for rebates for vandalism-related repairs and prevention measures for small businesses are now being accepted.
Further to previous updates on the Securing Small Business Rebate Program announced last summer, applications for the Securing Small Business Rebate program are now being accepted. The program allows businesses to apply for up to $2,000 for repairs due to vandalism and up to $1,000 for prevention measures retroactive to January 1, 2023.

The rebate program is being administered by the BC Chamber of Commerce and members can apply for the rebates here.

BC: Vancouver City Council Approves Initial Hospitality Working Group Recommendations
Restaurants Canada and Hospitality Working Group partners applaud the removal of some of the barriers to hospitality industry liquor licensing.
Since participating in the Vancouver Hospitality Working Group announcement with Vancouver Mayor Sim and Council last summer, Restaurants Canada participated in several meetings with City Council and staff to develop recommendations to reduce hospitality industry liquor licensing red tape.

Our work culminated in several of our initial recommendations being included in a November 29th Policy and By-law Updates Regulation of Liquor Establishments Including Distance Requirements report to Council. The report makes nine recommendations to modernize and reduce liquor licensing red tape to better align with provincial liquor policies, including changes on seating, dual licensing, distance requirements, and hours of operation.

On December 13th City Council’s Standing Committee on Finance and Services met to discuss the report and its recommendations. After listening to several speakers both against the recommendations (mostly health advocates) and in favour (including Restaurants Canada and our hospitality industry partners), Vancouver City Council approved the recommendations, a significant victory for licensees.

The Hospitality Working Group continues to work with City staff and Council on additional recommendations we hope to have implemented in 2024.


With holiday events and bookings hopefully filling tables, I hope everyone is able to make time for themselves and the people who support us, inspire us and keep us moving forward at work and at home. Personally, while the menu may not quite achieve Garland Culinary Competition standards, I am looking forward to some holiday cheer and time spent with our head office team at our holiday potluck event this Thursday.

It probably goes without saying, but if you’re looking for any last-minute holiday shopping ideas, there’s nothing better than the gift of a local restaurant experience. Even better, you can join the growing roster of restaurants taking part in the grassroots Pay it Forward” initiative and grow the initiative in your community. Tracy Macgregor, V-P Ontario, has been fielding many media inquiries about the thoughtfulness and community support exhibited by these restaurants, particularly at the end of such a tough year for the industry.

The trend began with a handful of Eastern Ontario restaurants offering customers the opportunity to “pay it forward” by purchasing a meal ticket for a person in need. The purchased meal tickets are then placed on a board in the restaurant so that anyone who needs a meal can walk in, take a ticket and give it to a server to receive a free meal, no questions asked.

The ways restaurants continuously show up for their communities should warm our hearts and inspire all of us. 

Warmest wishes to all and may your tables be filled with joy, your kitchens with delight, and your hearts with the spirit of giving. Thank you for all that you do to make this industry and every moment so special.

Kelly Higginson