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The LGBTQ2S+ community is an integral part of Canada’s foodservice sector.

The LGBTQ2S+ community is an integral part of Canada’s foodservice sector. This industry serves as a significant employer for LGBTQ2S+ Canadians, providing first jobs, pathways to entrepreneurial ventures, and long-term careers in food and beverage. According to 2021 data from Statistics Canada, about four percent of the Canadian population, or around one million people, identify as LGBTQ2S+, with a quarter of them working in hospitality and retail. The community’s substantial impact on advancing the Canadian foodservice and hospitality industry is clear. Their professional and economic contributions have not only propelled the industry forward but also fostered a culture of inclusivity and creativity that benefits all of us. To learn more about flying the flag with pride, click here.

Over the May long weekend, the National Restaurant Association Show took place in Chicago. A small delegation from Restaurants Canada had the privilege of attending this premier event, where culinary leaders, entrepreneurs, and industry experts gathered to explore the latest trends and technologies shaping our industry.

We were fortunate to be present at the keynote dialogue featuring Chef José Andrés. It was truly an honour to listen to Chef Andres share his dedication to restaurants, their significance in communities, and the transformative impact of connections, alongside his extraordinary endeavours with World Central Kitchen.

Another highlight for me was participating in a satellite panel at the Women Leaders & Owners Reception by Let’s Talk Womxn (LTW) with Adrienne Trimble, Sysco VP, Chief Diversity & Culture Officer, and Rohini Dey, Ph.D., owner of Chicago’s Vermilion restaurant and founder of LTW, which offered rich discussions and valuable insights. Such experiences not only enhance our influence and understanding but also inspire our efforts at the RC Show to elevate and invigorate the Canadian foodservice perspective and landscape.

Last week, Restaurants Canada hosted an incredible Member Reception in Vancouver. The gathering was also the perfect opportunity to meet with regional members and our Board of Directors to celebrate local Restaurants Canada Award of Excellence recipients, originally awarded at the RC Show on April 10th:

Leadership Award of Excellence, sponsored by PepsiCo:

Susan Senecal, President & CEO, A&W Restaurants, Inc.

Culinary Award of Excellence, sponsored by Air Canada:

Chef Meeru Dhalwala, Lila

Legacy Award of Excellence, sponsored by Diversey:

Warren Erhart, President & CEO, White Spot

The original, full Award ceremony also recognized Chef Hayden Johnston of Toronto’s Richmond Station restaurant with the Emerging Leader Award of Excellence, sponsored by Groupex Canada and acknowledged Leaders in Environmentally Accountable Foodservice (LEAF) with an Environmental Stewardship Award of Recognition, sponsored by Too Good to Go.

In addition, in partnership with The Chef’s Table Society of BC, we honoured the incredible Chef John Bishop with a Lifetime Achievement Recognition.

In the past year, as I assumed the responsibilities of President and CEO at Restaurants Canada, I’ve frequently experienced deep gratitude and a sense of privilege. However, last week’s members reception in BC stands out as a particularly memorable moment. Being in the company of admired and incredibly talented hospitality figures and industry legends was a true honour.

Photos courtesy of Brad Kasselman.

The foodservice industry is British Columbia’s third-largest private sector employer and powers the regional tourism economy. Known for its vibrant culinary scene and innovative hospitality practices, the province plays a crucial role in shaping trends and policies that resonate across Canada. The region’s contribution not only supports local economies but also sets influential standards that enhance our national culinary identity.

Thank you to members who joined us at the Vancouver event. Your presence and engagement are what make our gatherings so special and meaningful. In-person connections like these are vital to the advocacy work we do, helping us to unite, share insights and collaborate more effectively for the advancement and prosperity of the restaurant industry. Your continued support and active participation are deeply appreciated as we strive together to make a positive impact.

We also extend our sincere gratitude to the JOEY Restaurant Group for their outstanding hospitality.


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

Richard returns from Ottawa next week and will resume regular communications.


From Jillian Rodak | Vice President, Sustainability

Second Harvest 2024 Food Loss & Waste (FLW) Survey

Calling all members! Please take a few minutes to fill out the food loss and waste survey for Second Harvest. This data is important to help us find ways to support your business as we work toward a minimal food waste industry.

Complete the English survey here. | Complete the French survey here.

Federal Plastics Ban Update

As a follow up to our previous note on the federal plastics ban, the Federal Court of Appeal is now scheduled to hear the federal plastics ban case on June 25th and 26th, a shift from the originally planned date of June 7th. As noted in a recent article, the Canadian Constitution Foundation has been granted intervener status and will be arguing that the federal plastics ban is outside the jurisdiction of Parliament’s criminal law power.

Saskatchewan: Province Approves Product Stewardship Program Plan

The Government of Saskatchewan has approved the product stewardship program plan submitted by Multi-Material Stewardship Western (MMSW) to meet The Household Packaging and Paper Stewardship Program Regulations, 2023.

MMSW submitted an initial program plan in September 2023. The ministry worked collaboratively with MMSW to address concerns and gaps identified by producers, municipalities and other interested groups. An amended program plan was submitted on April 12, 2024, and approved by the Minister on May 8, 2024. MMSW’s program plan is available on their website.

British Columbia: Ministry of Environment, Environment and Climate Change Canada shares waste prevention policy options with Restaurants Canada

On May 23rd, British Columbia’s Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Canada joined RC’s Sustainability Committee meeting to share the policy options outlined in the IC&I waste prevention discussion paper released in April.

We will be connecting with members and other trade associations over the month of June to collect feedback to shape our July 23rd submission.


From Maximilien Roy | Vice-President, Federal & Québec

Federal: Immigration and Regularization

Ottawa is working on a plan to help more individuals living in Canada without official status become permanent residents. This process, called “regularization”, would allow better inclusion of these individuals in the economy, reducing poverty across the country by providing them with the means to join the workforce and earn a decent living. The Prime Minister has already signaled that those who do not qualify for regularization may face faster deportation proceedings.

The details of this plan are expected to be announced before the House of Commons rises on June 21st and could have a positive impact on our industry’s urgent and ongoing need for more labour.

Stay tuned, we will keep you updated.

Federal: Meetings, Meetings, Meetings

We are hard at work, meeting with key political offices to advocate on your behalf.

Last week, we met with the Office of the Minister of Small Business, the Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Development, and the Office of the Minister of Finance to discuss EI premiums, among other files. As the foodservice industry is labour-intensive, incremental changes to payroll taxes can have a significant impact on your bottom line. Given the industry’s current turbulence, it would make a lot of sense to reduce them. This is why we are asking the federal government to reduce EI premiums in 2025, to help our industry in these dire times and sustain the more than 1.2 million jobs our industry creates.

Kendra Wilcox, Director of Policy to the Minister of Small Business, and Richard Alexander, Restaurants Canada EVP Government Relations & Public Affairs


From Jordi Morgan | Vice-President, Atlantic Canada

I’ve been on the road over the past two weeks meeting with politicians and officials in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Prince Edward Island Meetings

On May 22nd, Restaurants Canada met with officials from the Department of Workforce, Labour and Population to discuss issues around reductions in the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP).

RC is asking provincial governments to consider immigration policies aimed at matching new Canadians with positions in the foodservice industry. Both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have chosen to restrict hospitality and foodservice access to their respective federal PNP allocations. This is creating serious issues for restaurant operators who have come to rely on immigration as an import source of labour. We continue to engage at both the provincial and federal levels to find solutions.

While on the Island, RC PEI board member Kent Scales and I also met with Danny MacDonald, the CEO of the Prince Edward Island Liquor Control Commission (PEILCC). Work has begun on the next version of Restaurants Canada’s Raise the Bar report, examining beverage alcohol policy, regulation and cost across the country. There was some productive discussion with the PEILCC around regulatory modernization, inspection and compliance processes, and discounting. We’ve agreed to continue discussions to find ways to reduce costs and red tape for licensees.

Newfoundland and Labrador Meetings

On May 23rd, I travelled to St. John’s to meet with Newfoundland and Labrador Finance Minister Siobhan Coady. I was joined by RC Board Chair Jeremy Bonia in a wide-ranging conversation aimed at providing the Minister with an overview of the state of the industry and exploring areas to reduce compliance costs. Issues discussed included the commercial insurance tax, licensing costs, and the NL government’s new program designed to provide relief to employers dealing with skyrocketing minimum wage costs.

The government is also moving new legislation governing beverage alcohol in the province. The next steps will include redrafting regulations under the new Act and Restaurants Canada has agreed to feed into this process to streamline the province’s regulatory framework.

Nova Scotia Meetings

On May 27th and 28th, I attended the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia’s (TIANS) Annual General Meeting at White Point Beach Lodge.

TIANS is in the final stages of a new tourism strategy for the province designed to boost efficiencies and employment in the province’s $3.2 billion hospitality industry. At its height, tourism employed over 55,000 workers in the province, however 3,000 positions remain unfilled in 2024. Restaurants Canada is committed to working with TIANS to find opportunities for foodservice under the umbrella of tourism.

One interesting piece of discussion included a panel on Age Friendly Employer Certification, a program designed to attract and retain mature workers.


From Kris Barnier | Vice President, Central Canada and the North

Northwest Territories: Economic Update

On May 24th, Minister Caroline Wawzonek delivered an economic update, presenting a challenging economic outlook. The Minister pointed to the upcoming closure of the territory’s “world class diamond mines” and recent flooding and wildfires but noted that the government is trying to demonstrate fiscal restraint in an attempt to live within its means (and is still projecting a surplus in 2024-25.

Of note, the government reported that tourism numbers have nearly fully recovered from the pandemic.

Read the full Budget Address here and the February 2024 Fiscal Sustainability Strategy here.

Yukon: Identification Cards are Getting a Refresh

The Yukon government will begin issuing new, upgraded driver’s licences and general identification cards after May 31, 2024. Read more here.

Yukon: Government Announces Temporary Pause on Whitehorse-based Yukon Nominee Program Applications

The Government of Yukon has put a temporary pause on the intake of Whitehorse-based applications for the Yukon Nominee Program. The program will continue to accept applications for nominees in rural communities.Read more and access government contacts here.

Manitoba: Meetings and Community Events

I had the pleasure of visiting Manitoba again from May 20th to 24th.  While there, I participated as a newly elected board member in planning and other activities with Multi-Material Stewardship Manitoba (MMSM).

I also had the opportunity to visit with Manitoba restaurant operators and spend time with MRFA CEO Shaun Jeffrey to discuss strategic planning and attend two fantastic Winnipeg events that highlighted some of the city’s greatest and most fun dining experiences.

Restaurants Canada VP Central Canada and the North Kris Barnier enjoys a meal prepared by students at the Technical Vocational School – Winnipeg Division and attends Taste of the Blue Bombers event with MRFA CEO Shaun Jeffrey

We stopped in at Taste of the Blue Bombers, an event that showcases the amazing food and beverages that will be available this season at Bomber games. We also had the chance to enjoy an incredible meal prepared by students at the Technical Vocational School – Winnipeg Division. The dedication and talent of these student was absolutely amazing, and I was blown away by the experience. 

Manitoba: Province Announces Emergency Financial Support for Wildfire Evacuees

The government is offering modest financial support for families and individuals impacted by wildfire evacuations in the Cranberry Portage area. Get more information on eligibility and how to apply here.  

Ontario: Province Announces Next Steps in Alcohol Transformation

On May 24th, Premier Doug Ford and Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy outlined the path their government will take toward modernizing and opening alcohol sales in Ontario.

On wholesale pricing, which is key to our industry, the government announced that an interim wholesale discount of 10 per cent from the LCBO basic retail price for retailers will apply until 2026. A post-2026 wholesaler price that is consistent for all retailers will be determined by a formula that adds taxes, mark-ups and fees to a supplier’s set price. The government will continue to consult with stakeholders on the new model.

During meetings with Premier Ford, Minister Bethlenfalvy, and other cabinet ministers and staff, Restaurants Canada has actively been pushing for a review of wholesale pricing in Ontario along with further relief on alcohol pricing for restaurants and bars. The government’s commitment to a review of taxes, mark-ups and fees is a positive and welcome development. Restaurants Canada is engaged with the government on this initiative and will be a very active participant in ongoing provincial discussions.

Other key highlights of the Government’s Plan include:

  • On August 1, 2024, the up to 450 grocery stores that are currently licensed to sell beer, cider or wine will also be able to sell ready-to-drink beverages. These grocery stores will also be able to start offering consumers large-pack sizes like the 30-pack that is popular in Quebec.
  • After September 5, 2024, all eligible convenience stores will be able to sell beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.
  • After October 31, 2024, all eligible grocery and big-box stores will be able to sell beer, cider, wine and ready-to-drink beverages, including in large pack sizes.

Additional Information can be found here in the government’s news release. Please feel welcome to contact me directly with your questions, concerns, and comments.   


From Mark von Schellwitz | Vice-President, Western Canada

British Columbia: BC Farm Industry Review Board Approves Chicken Price Increase

As members know over the past six months Restaurants Canada has been advocating against a proposed BC Chicken Marketing Board live chicken price increase. Despite having no standing as a stakeholder in the BC Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB) price setting process, our advocacy efforts including our targeted “Chickan’t Afford Me Anymore” social media campaign ensured that our arguments opposing the price increase were heard by FIRB, the government, all MLAs, and the media.

On May 22nd the BC FIRB finally released their decision approving the proposed live chicken price increase that will be implemented over the next year. Following the FIRB decision, Restaurants Canada issued the following media statement voicing our disappointment with the decision that will add even more food cost increases to BC restaurants and consumers and has done media interviews on the decision including the following Global News chicken price increase story

While not successful at preventing a live chicken price increase, our efforts certainly raised awareness of the impact these decisions have on our industry and that foodservice is an important stakeholder that should have a say in these pricing decisions, as our industry purchases 40 per cent of all chicken produced in British Columbia. Moving forward, we reiterated our request to be included as a stakeholder in future FIRB price-setting processes.

Vancouver Member Reception & Awards Presentation

Adding to Kelly’s comments above, I would also like to thank the more than 100 BC Restaurants Canada members, board members, industry partners and guests who attended and contributed to the very successful May 27th BC Restaurants Canada member reception and industry awards presentation. We appreciate your support in celebrating RC Leadership Award of Excellence winner Susan Senecal, Culinary Award of Excellence winner Meeru Dhalwala, and Legacy Award of Excellence winner Warren Erhart.

Attendees also appreciated that Restaurants Canada and our partners at the Chefs’ Table Society of BC recognized former Restaurants Canada board member and iconic BC restaurateur John Bishop for his lifetime of achievement as a celebrated BC restaurant industry leader who transformed BC’s restaurant industry pioneering local and fresh west coast farm-to-fork cuisine combined with his commitment to elegant, personalized table service. In recognition of John’s lifetime of achievement, Restaurants Canada and the Chefs’ Table Society of BC introduced a new John Bishop Scholarship Fund to help young chefs and restaurateurs improve their skills and become future restaurant leaders. Members interested in contributing to the John Bishop Scholarship Fund should contact me at

Restaurants Canada issued a press release, Restaurants Canada Serves Up Recognition, highlighting the local Award of Excellence winners and John Bishop’s lifetime recognition scholarship fund award. It was a personal highlight for me to see so many BC members help celebrate these outstanding award-winning BC restaurateurs I have had the pleasure of working with over the years.

British Columbia: 2024 Minimum Wage Increase in Effect

On June 1st, British Columbia implemented its 3.9 per cent minimum wage increase from $16.75 to $17.40 per hour.

The increase, announced on February 26,2024, is consistent with BC’s indexation formula tying minimum wage increases to the rate of inflation.

Now the highest provincial minimum wage in Canada, the latest adjustment follows several years of larger-than-inflation minimum wage increases and labour policies that have significantly raised labour costs for the industry.

British Columbia: BC Coalition for Affordable Dependable Energy (BC CADE) and BCRFA Release Study on Cost to Convert Restaurants from Natural Gas to Electricity

On May 29th, the BC Coalition for Affordable Dependable Energy (BC CADE), of which Restaurants Canada is a member, and our colleagues at the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) issued a press release announcing the results of a detailed study by consulting firm Pacific Solutions on the cost of converting an existing Vancouver restaurant from natural gas to electricity calling for municipalities to drop early implementation of natural gas bans in new buildings.

The study concluded that it would cost the average restaurant $800,000 to convert from either natural gas or renewable natural gas to electricity. The release is generating considerable media coverage. 

While Mental Health Awareness Month may have just passed, the responsibility to prioritize mental health is ongoing throughout the year for all of us. We encourage all operators to continue promoting mental health awareness and supporting their teams consistently, not just during designated months. Discussing mental health openly is key to breaking down stigma. Our teams are our greatest asset, and it’s vital they understand and can access the support tools available.

On this note, I would like to remind Ontario operators to download the Smart Serve Cares Campaign Toolkit mentioned in my last update. Smart Serve Cares is a timely campaign that aims to bring much-needed awareness to the significant mental health and substance use challenges faced by those working in hospitality. This breakthrough collaboration between Smart Serve Ontario, Not 9 to 5, a Canadian non-profit dedicated to mental health education and advocacy for hospitality professionals, and GreenShield, Canada’s only non-profit health and benefits company, will provide essential and free mental health services to individuals holding an active Smart Serve certificate.

If you weren’t able to attend, I encourage ALL leaders to watch the virtual workshop: Supporting Workplace Mental Health for You and Your Team presented on May 30th with Not 9 to 5’s Hassel Aviles. It’s a crucial watch with fantastic information: As leaders, we can’t pour from an empty cup. To make a substantial impact on workplace mental health, we must first prioritize our own well-being. Join us for a virtual workshop with Hassel Aviles, Founder of Not 9 To 5, as she guides you through the importance of self-check-ins for leaders and equips you with the resources needed to create a workplace that prioritizes mental wellness for you and your team.

Available here, on demand.

Yours in hopes of great weather and a strong and vibrant summer season,

Kelly Higginson