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The Q2 2024 edition of The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report has dropped.

I hope everyone was able to get out and enjoy their local Canada Day celebrations and that the restaurants in your cities enjoyed a much-needed bump in business.

Q2 is live now!

The Q2 2024 edition of The Quarterly Canadian Restaurant Intelligence Report has dropped. This latest Restaurants Canada Intelligence release marks a pivotal moment as we continue to empower our members with crucial insights and forecasts essential for navigating today’s dynamic market landscape. At its core, the Q2 Quarterly Report offers unparalleled data-driven analyses and strategic insights tailored to guide your business decisions. We urge all operators to leverage this comprehensive resource to gain a deeper understanding of market trends, identify growth opportunities, and benchmark their performance against the wider industry. By investing in these powerful tools, Restaurants Canada aims to bring informed decision-making and sustainable growth within reach for everyone.

We’ve experienced a demanding first two quarters of 2024, which comes as no surprise to many of you. Running a restaurant has never been more costly.

The foodservice industry has faced numerous challenges in recent years, but what stands out in the Q2 Report of 2024 is the one-two punch of weaker consumer spending coinciding with operating costs reaching an unprecedented high.  

The first half of 2024 has been difficult as the combined impact of fewer visits and high operating costs are hitting all at once. Traditionally, this industry operates on slim profit margins, and the record-high cost of food, insurance, and a decline in discretionary funds in the pockets of consumers, is causing extraordinary strain.  

That’s why our focus on advocating for smart policies related to cost relief measures is crucial, and why we’re seeking your support for our latest campaign and policy proposal to lower EI premiums.

Follow the story:
National Post | Restaurants Canada Q2 Report: Costs Soar, While Traffic Trails Off

Restaurants Canada launched our Lift the Strain campaign two weeks ago. 

Please take two minutes to visit Lift the Strain now and send a letter to your Member of Parliament requesting a reduction in EI premiums. We’ve streamlined the process so that your letter will be automatically directed to the appropriate MP based on your address. Your support is crucial to this initiative! MPs need to hear directly from constituents like you—business operators who are contributing to their communities and the Canadian economy—about the importance of reducing EI premiums.

As a community, we are one of the largest private employers in Canada, impacting communities nationwide. By collectively advocating for this reduction, we can ensure our industry’s voice is heard loud and clear in Ottawa. The campaign is supported by prominent organizations like the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, along with the Tourism Association of Canada, and highlights the economic benefits of reducing EI premiums as outlined in Professor Ian Lee’s report, “On the Precipice – Help is Needed.”  

Restaurants Canada Regional Vice-Presidents, along with local operators, are already meeting with MPs to rally support for our cause. Your participation in sending a letter will strengthen our campaign and increase the potential to achieve lower costs for our industry. Act now by visiting  Lift the Strain and sending your letter today.

Let us all acknowledge the influence—the power of this sector! If you’ve ever wondered about the impact your hard work, dedication, and perseverance has on your community and the broader economy, know that the foodservice industry plays a vital role in Canada’s social and economic fabric.  This is the reality we will persist in advocating and sharing with all government levels.


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

Can you take two minutes to help reduce your costs to operate?

Take two minutes to visit Lift the Strain now and send a letter to your MP asking for a reduction in EI premiums.

We have prepared the letter that will automatically select your MP based on your address. We just need you to visit Lift the Strain now.

Why your help is needed.

Governments are beset by requests daily from interest groups across this country. To move our request to the top of the pile, we need to generate urgency around the issue—that is where you come in. MPs must hear from their constituents about the need for a reduction in EI premiums. Groups that stay silent or passive don’t get what they are looking for in this political climate.

We are a community of 97,000 restaurants that make up the fourth-largest private employer in the country, touching almost every community in Canada. Our numbers represent a tremendous opportunity. Think of the impact our campaign would have if every member sent a letter. It would be impossible for government to ignore our industry and your challenges.

The campaign.

Two weeks ago, we held a press conference in Ottawa to release a report by Professor Ian Lee of Carlton University titled, “On the Precipice – Help is Needed.” The report outlines the need to reduce EI premiums and underscore the positive outcomes such a move would have on our industry. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada have all signed on to the campaign.

Restaurants Canada’s Regional VPs, together with local operators, are setting up meetings with MPs in their ridings to ask them to champion a reduction in EI premiums on our behalf in Ottawa. The more letters they receive, the more likely it is for MPs to become champions. 

Send your letter now and let’s lower costs for our industry. Visit Lift the Strain now.


From Jillian Rodak | Vice President, Sustainability

Ontario: Guelph Single-Use Bylaw Review

On June 4th, the City of Guelph reviewed Phase 2 of the city’s Single-Use Items by-law. During the meeting, city council added an amendment that would require businesses to accept a customer’s clean, reusable food container for orders made in-store. Our RC team, alongside two RC members, met with the Mayor of Guelph, city councillors, and city staff the following week to discuss the amendment and share the health, safety and operational implementation considerations associated with this approach. The vote to pass Phase 2 of the by-law, including the amendment, took place on June 25th and was passed with the following amendments:

  • Mandatory acceptance of re-usable beverage and food containers at drive-throughs and/or for delivery has been exempted
  • The city is going to launch additional consultations into re-usable containers and will report back before March 1, 2025.

Edmonton: Shopping Bag Fee Hike is Now in Effect

As a reminder to our members operating in Edmonton, the increased fee for shopping bags took effect on July 1st.

The fees have increased to $0.25 cents for paper bags, and $2.00 for reusable bags. This fee increase is part of the city’s Single-use Item Reduction by-law that took effect in 2023. The purpose of bag fees is to encourage customers to reduce waste by bringing their own bags, while also helping businesses supplement associated costs. For more resources, the City of Edmonton has a section on the Single-use Items Businesses and Events page that includes new tools developed with the help of several quick service restaurants.

Toronto: New Emissions By-Law in the Works

The Environment and Climate Division at City of Toronto has been directed by city council to draft a new by-law that will set emissions standards and limits for all existing buildings in the city.

Existing buildings are Toronto’s largest source of GHG emissions (56 per cent of total community-wide emissions)—mainly through natural gas use for space and water heating.

RC has been engaged to be part of the special-use buildings advisory group to consult on areas of the by-law where exceptions may be necessary; for example, buildings that have unique energy needs. The city is undergoing a technical analysis, engagement, and consultation process to develop the by-law until November 2024.

National: Canada’s 2030 Nature Strategy Released

At the federal level, Minister Guilbeault announced the release of Canada’s 2030 Nature Strategy and introduced Bill C-73, an Act respecting transparency and accountability in relation to certain commitments Canada has made under the Convention on Biological Diversity (the Nature Accountability Bill).

The Nature Strategy outlines a path for Canada to achieve its commitments under the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (KMGBF), which was adopted by Canada, alongside 195 other countries, back in 2022. The Strategy largely adopts the 23 targets “as-is” from the KMGBF across a range of areas including pollution and biodiversity, ecosystem restoration, species recovery, etc., with the overall goal of halting and reversing biodiversity loss. We will continue to monitor progress on this Bill and will keep you informed as updates become available.

Restaurants Canada: Monthly Policy Tracker Now Available

RC is now sending a monthly policy tracker to keep members informed of sustainability policy updates across the country (and in key regions globally). If you are not receiving the tracker emails but would like to be included, please reach out to me at:


From Maximilien Roy | Vice-President, Federal & Québec

National: ‘Tis the BBQ Season – for Members of Parliament

The House of Commons adjourned for the summer on June 19th, so expect political leaders to hit the trails during this BBQ season and your Member of Parliament to be in your riding. And since you master the BBQ like no one else, we encourage you to reach out to your local MP and share some of the issues our industry is facing. That’s right, no rest for the wicked at Restaurants Canada!

  1. Send them a message on EI Premiums: Fill out this form to send a message to your Member of Parliament, asking them to support lower EI premiums to lift the strain on small businesses—and keep more money in the pockets of employees. It literally takes a minute to complete and can make a huge difference in our advocacy efforts. 
  2. Having a hard time filling open positions? Share your story with us: It always helps to have a genuine situation or personal story to explain to policymakers how difficult it is to recruit the necessary staff to run a business. Help us better advocate on your behalf by sharing your experience with us. Email them to me at:

Restaurants Canada will be busy this summer, meeting with MPs from all political parties to discuss lowering EI premiums and asking for a matching and training program to help reduce labour shortage in our industry.

Quebec: Planning for the New Public Signage Requirements

Starting June 1, 2025, exterior public signs displaying a registered non-French mark will also have to be accompanied by French text within the same visual field, and the French text will have to be “markedly predominant”. Specific guidelines from the OQLF are expected in the coming weeks, which we will share with you, so stay tuned.

As you plan for this change, know that the OQLF may grant extensions on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule of thumb, the OQLF only considers these extensions for businesses that can demonstrate they’ve been taking steps toward compliance ahead of June 1st, 2025. Demonstrating a bit of goodwill often goes a long way.

Not sure if your new public sign meets the requirements? The OQLF informed us that businesses can send a draft of the public signage design for the OQLF to confirm its compliance with the new criteria. You must file a request using their general information request form, or make your request directly to your OQLF advisor, if you already have one.


From Jordi Morgan | Vice-President, Atlantic Canada

Atlantic: Immigration Update

There are many employers in Atlantic Canada foodservice operations frustrated by the changes to the Provincial Nominee Program in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. However, these frustrations are not isolated to those provinces, as immigration logjams and red tape are common issues.

We have been consulting with provincial departments and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to find ways to streamline processes and develop new resources for foodservice employers dealing with labour issues. IRCC has a dedicated team in Atlantic Canada, and one of their outreach officers provided the following information to help respond to questions or concerns from businesses in our sector:

The team at provide free support for employers who have questions about federal programs. They also have a team dedicated to supporting inquiries from Atlantic Immigration Program (AIP)-designated employers, who can answer both AIP and non-AIP related immigration questions, including being able to verify the case status of their employees (with the employees’ authorization). The email for those employers is:

We are continuing to work on your behalf to find immigration and labour availability options through government agencies. If you missed it earlier this month, you can check out IRCC’s largest virtual job fair, the Destination Canada Mobility Forum, for French-speaking and bilingual candidates with training and experience in hospitality, culinary or other occupations in the tourism sector.

Nova Scotia: Workers Compensation Board (WCB)

I have accepted a role on the Board of the Office of the Employer Advisor (OEA) in Nova Scotia.

The OEA is set up to help employers navigate the complexities of WCB claims. WCB is going through a review process under the new CEO, Karen Adams. Restaurants Canada met with Adams in early May to discuss the impact of new provisions being adopted around psychological injury in the workplace.

Atlantic: Beverage Alcohol

In preparation for the development of the next edition of Restaurants Canada’s Raise the Bar report on beverage alcohol, I will be meeting with senior Ministers and officials from the finance departments and liquor corporations across Atlantic Canada to discuss the potential for modernizing regulations and reducing costs for licensees.

New Brunswick Finance Minister, Hon. Ernie Steeves and Restaurants Canada VP Atlantic, Jordi Morgan

Last week, I met separately with both New Brunswick’s Finance Minister Ernie Steeves, and Prince Edward Island’s Finance Minister Jill Burridge. Both hold positions as the Minister responsible for their respective Liquor Corporations.


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

Northwest Territories: Government Seeking Input on Proposed Meat Processing Safety Regulations

The Government of Northwest Territories (GNWT) is seeking feedback from the public and stakeholders on the proposed Meat Processing Safety Regulations. Input received from public and stakeholder engagement conducted from December 2021 to February 2022 helped inform the development of these proposed regulations. The deadline for input was June 27th. You can learn more here.  

Nunavut: Call for Applications for Community Tourism and Cultural Industries Program

The Department of Economic Development and Transportation (EDT) is accepting applications for the Community Tourism and Cultural Industries (CTCI) Program. This program includes a wide range of individuals and organizations.  The Deadline to apply is August 15th.  Visit here for more information.

Nunavut: Premier Akeeagok Assigns New Cabinet Portfolios

The Premier announced changes after the resignation of Karen Nutarak (who resigned for personal and family reasons).  The news release can be found here, and the changes of note are:

  • Minister Pamela Hakongak Gross remains Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, with the added responsibility of Minister of Human Resources and Minister responsible for the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission.
  • Minister David Akeeagok remains Minister of Economic Development and Transportation and will take on the responsibilities of Minister of Justice, Minister responsible for Labour and Minister responsible for the Human Rights Tribunal.
  • Minister Margaret Nakashuk remains the Minister of Family Services, Minister responsible for Homelessness, Minister responsible for Status of Women, and Minister responsible for Poverty Reduction, and will take on the added role of Minister responsible for the Nunavut Arctic College.

Nunavut: New Food Safety Regulations in Effect

New food safety regulations came into effect as of May 1st, under the updated Public Health Act. These regulations were developed to ensure the safety of food manufacturing, handling, preparation, distribution, and storage is done in a way that keeps Nunavummiut healthy and safe. Additional information can be found here.

Manitoba: Announcing 2024 Between the Buns – Manitoba’s Local Burger Competition

Between the Buns will run between Sept 1-8th. This new Winnipeg event is locally run, creating a great opportunity for your brand to be associated with a Made in Manitoba Event.

Please download the Between the Buns event booklet for more information about this exciting event and to learn how you can get involved, or reach out to Shaun Jeffrey ( or Kim Riddolls ( from the Manitoba Restaurant & Food Services Association. 

Manitoba: Legislature Rises for the Summer

Earlier this month, the Legislature rose for the summer.  Among its key initiatives, the government highlighted some of the efforts it is making to reduce crime.  This includes initiatives that target violent and organized crimes, and commitments made as part of the budget that aim to tackle mental health and street crime. 

While there have been some positive developments, we remain focused on pushing the government to fully deliver on its commitment to deliver grants to businesses to help them with security costs. 

Manitoba: Policy Development

I am working closely with the MRFA on the development of key asks of the Government of Manitoba.  This includes initiatives targeting public safety, profitability, alcohol policy, labour/workforce development and other priorities.  We will use the summer to continue our work and to continue to build our relationships with key elected officials, staffers, and civil servants. 

Ontario: LCBO Strike Risk Looms

LCBO workers could go on strike as early as July 5th.  I have been in touch with LCBO and key senior Ford government officials to stress that our industry is hurting and needs assurance the government and LCBO will do all they can to avert a strike, or at least do everything possible to ensure that a strike results in minimal disruption for Ontario’s bars and restaurants. 

We are also communicating with beverage alcohol producers to ask what they might be able to do to help keep products flowing to your businesses to ensure you can continue to serve your visitors.

I will keep you informed as we learn of any new developments, and we will continue to advocate on your behalf to ensure that the Ford government and LCBO take all actions possible to mitigate the impact of a strike action on your business.

In the meantime, you can follow LCBO updates on the situation here.

Ontario: Legislature Rises for Summer as Premier Shuffles his Cabinet

Earlier this month, the Ontario Legislative Assembly rose for the summer. On the same day, the Premier shuffled his cabinet.

Most of the key ministers whose responsibilities impact our industry remain in place. That said, there are a few key ministers who have moved into roles of interest to our sector:

  • Stan Cho is in as the new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Gaming, with responsibility for OLG.  He is a strong minister who is well respected by his colleagues.  
  • Lisa Thompson is now Minister of Rural Affairs. She previously served as Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs. Rob Flack is the new Minister of Farming, Agriculture and Agribusiness, and has a strong background in agriculture as an owner and operator of Flack Farms.
  • Todd Smith and Stephen Lecce have largely flipped roles, with Smith taking on Education and Lecce taking Energy and Electrification.     

Ontario: Alcohol Transformation

Last month, 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 release identified 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.”

Restaurants Canada has since been in touch with the government and the LCBO to thank them for committing to this step and to note that it represents a promising, timely, and important opportunity to help support our industry and the jobs, tax dollars, economic activity, and other community benefits it drives.

Working with our Board of Directors and affected Ontario Government Relations Committee Members, we have struck a Working Committee that will inform our policy development and advocacy on this opportunity.

Restaurants Canada: Ongoing Work on Profitability

The Regional VPs are working with the Restaurants Canada Board and our regional GR Committees to identify opportunities to help grow profitability for your businesses.

This work will keep us active and engaged with members through the summer.  My colleagues and I have been reaching out to stakeholders from the alcohol, food, insurance, technology, and other industries to identify ideas and opportunities to help your businesses grow revenue and cut expenses.  


From Mark von Schellwitz | Vice-President, Western Canada

Alberta: Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi Elected as New Alberta NDP Leader

On June 22nd, the Alberta NDP leadership vote took place. Former Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi won a landslide victory collecting 86 per cent of party member votes.

Restaurants Canada has had a good working relationship with Nenshi during his tenure as Calgary mayor. We congratulate Naheed Nenshi on his victory and look forward to working with him in his new role.

We would also like to thank former NDP leader Rachel Notely for her many years of service leading the Alberta NDP.

Alberta: Edmonton’s SUI By-law Bag Fee Increases Now in Effect

The planned bag fee increases came into effect yesterday. For more details, please see RC’s Vice President, Sustainability, Jillian Rodak’s reporting earlier in this edition of the CEO Update.

BC: Province Announces New Digital App Driver Protection Regulations

On June 12th, the BC government issued a press release announcing that they had finalized regulations to provide additional compensation and protections for BC app-based ride hailing and delivery drivers.

Then, on June 17th,  Online Platform Worker Reg OIC 340 and Online Platform Workers reg OIC 341 were passed outlining the new driver compensation and protection measures. The new regulations establish a new $20.88/hour minimum wage for these drivers, or 120 per cent of the province’s minimum wage ($17.40). This is on top of mileage allowances of $0.45/km for ride hailing assignments and $0.35/km for delivery drivers, to compensate them for personal vehicle use. Ride hail and delivery app employers will also need to provide workers compensation coverage for all ride hail and delivery driver employees. The new regulations come into force on September 3rd.

The new regulations follow months of consultations with Restaurants Canada and other stakeholders. Restaurants Canada provided our Gig Workers Consultation Submission last September before enabling legislation was passed in November 2023.

Since the passing of the legislation, Restaurants Canada has been consulted on developing the new regulations. We have reiterated our concerns related to the cost to consumer and change to the independent contractor business model as these changes treat drivers as employees rather than private contractors.

We continue to voice our concerns on the potential cost increase to delivery app consumers once the new regulations are implemented given the reported impact of similar delivery driver regulations recently implemented in Seattle.

BC: Tourism Minister Popham Appointed as Hospitality Industry Cabinet Liaison

On June 6th, our colleagues at the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) and Restaurants Canada issued the following press release responding to the news that Tourism Minister Lana Popham has been appointed as the B.C. government’s lead minister to work with the hospitality industry on our Save BC Restaurants Menu of Issues policy priorities.

We have had a good relationship with Minister Popham in the past and look forward to working with her as the lead minister working with her cabinet colleagues to implement hospitality industry policy priorities. Both BCRFA and Restaurants Canada met with Minister Popham in her new role on June 27th to discuss our Associations’ top policy and election platform priorities.

From left to right: BCRFA President and CEO Ian Tostenson; BC Tourism Minister Lana Popham; and Restaurants Canada VP Western Canada Mark von Schellwitz

In closing, I would like to take a moment to thank each of you for continuing to champion our sector. The work you do every day is about more than earning a living—it’s about providing community spaces for connecting, creating jobs people depend on, and contributing to economic growth and circulation by generating wealth that cascades to other businesses and homes.

Yours in fueling the power and potential of the Canadian foodservice industry,

Kelly Higginson