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We are deeply disappointed with the federal government’s refusal to extend the CEBA loan timeline.

We are all deeply disappointed with the federal government’s refusal to extend the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan repayment timeline. Despite our intensive lobbying and discussions with policymakers, and the clear consequences for so many, we were not granted the desired extension that would alleviate financial pressure on restaurants. However, Restaurants Canada remains undeterred and continues to work with purpose and momentum to address broader inflationary, economic and policy issues impacting our industry. 

  • Toronto Star: Thousands of Canadian small businesses scramble to pay back CEBA loans as deadline hits
  • Global News: Hamilton employers pivot so they can repay CEBA loans in full

We are calling on the federal government to work with us to implement policies that will address the inflationary crisis facing this vital, $100 billion dollar industry. We need solutions like a stop to the planned 4.7 per cent alcohol excise tax increase, a freeze on EI premiums, a common-sense approach to carbon tax for foodservice and streamlined hiring pathways for our sector. We are advocating for thoughtful, effective policies and support measures to help operators navigate these turbulent times and emerge stronger as the House returns. In the meantime, Restaurants Canada V-Ps have been meeting with their Regional Advocacy Committees to gather insight on local industry pain points to personalize and add perspective to the federal initiatives and conversations ahead. 

In the coming weeks, we will begin a series of planned meetings with Marc Miller, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship and his team to emphasize the importance of new Canadians to addressing the sector’s labour gap, and what employers and the industry are doing to support them. We will provide updates on this topic as the conversation progresses. 

Even as advocacy work carries on in earnest, we need to make time to celebrate industry successes and look to the future. The annual Restaurants Canada Awards of Excellence celebrate professionals who embody the best of our industry through their extraordinary vision, leadership and skill, and their unwavering spirit. Peer nominations are open for the 2024 Restaurants Canada Emerging Leader and Culinary Awards of Excellence. Nominating a peer for these distinguished awards is a meaningful acknowledgement of their contribution to the industry and can accelerate their career. Learn more about the nomination criteria and nominate here.

Registration is open for RC Show 2024, with 2024’s inspiring theme “Level Up”. This year’s Show is not just an exhibition but a learning platform, offering a unique blend of networking opportunities, expert-led seminars, and hands-on workshops to complement the speakers, panels and competitions that reflect the spirit and forward-looking culture of our ever-evolving industry. Embracing the theme “Level Up” encourages leaders to elevate their business strategies, adapt to changing consumer demands, and leverage new technologies, ideas and solutions to enhance operational efficiency and boost profit. This event is crucial for those aiming to refine their expertise, expand their professional network and position their establishments for future success in a highly competitive market. 

RC Show’s legendary culinary competitions are back with the Garland Canada Culinary Competition, an expanded two-day format for the RC Pizza Competition and three days of Coffee Competitions. New this year, RC Show is introducing an all-new Fried Chicken Sandwich Competition, presented by Chicken Farmers of Canada, Club House for Chefs, and Premium Foods and Direct Poultry, with $5,000 in cash and prizes to be won. The competition is curated in partnership with the culinary experts at Quell and is guaranteed to LEVEL UP the fried chicken sandwich scene. Applications to the Fried Chicken Sandwich Competition open tomorrow, January 30th, and we can’t wait to experience the best of this incredibly popular and hyper-competitive offering at RC Show 2024.

As mentioned in my last note, navigating the complexities of tip management has been a persistent challenge in the restaurant industry, requiring detailed, time-consuming administrative tasks and often exposing operators to tax or legal risk. To address this, Restaurants Canada’s partnership with hospitality tech company Atlas offers savings on their direct tipping solution, Atlas Direct Tips (ADT). ADT is a compliant system that not only streamlines tip distribution but also ensures efficiency and potentially exempts users from CPP and EI on employee tips. I encourage members to learn more about ADT and explore their exclusive introductory offer of a 20 per cent discount on the first-year’s subscription for Restaurants Canada members. 

Restaurants Canada, in collaboration with Mercer, has launched the 2024 Chain Compensation Survey, a vital tool for compensation planning in the Canadian restaurant and retail industries. This comprehensive survey builds on last year’s participation of over 140 leading businesses and half a million incumbent records and offers detailed insights into pay rates, short-term incentives and compensation strategies across 514 job types. It extends beyond basic salary information to include policies and practices. Conducted by renowned HR consulting firm Mercer, the survey process is efficient and yields high-quality, relevant data. Participation includes access to annual surveys, policy sections, support from Mercer, as well as networking opportunities. 

Data collection runs from March 4th to April 26th, with results available in September for a participation cost of $3,000. 

Interested parties are urged to complete a quick poll by February 9th, 2024, and can contact Bruno Balanza at for more information or Chris Elliott at if you have any questions or concerns.

If you weren’t able to tune in live, the new webinar, “Scaling from 1 to 2”, with The Fifteen Group is now available to watch on demand. This valuable session, presented by David Hopkins, President of The Fifteen Group, provides background information and tips on growth and scaling strategies for restaurants interested in exploring franchise opportunities.


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

RC’s Federal Alcohol Excise Tax Campaign
With the tax hike scheduled to come into effect this April, Restaurants Canada and partners are appealing to public hearts and minds.

The federal government’s planned 4.7 per cent increase in federal excise tax on alcohol is scheduled to be implemented April 1st. Restaurants Canada has been in Ottawa on several occasions asking our elected officials to freeze the increase at 2 per cent as was done last year. 

Our lobby with our partners at Beer Canada, Spirits Canada and the Wine Growers of Canada continues. Beer Canada recently released their Here for Beer campaign featuring Bob and Doug to draw attention to the issue.  

Restaurants Canada is developing a campaign for Ottawa based restaurants to highlight the importance of a continued freeze in the Capital region, to be launched in February. 

Ongoing Search for key Restaurants Canada Roles
Restaurants Canada is recruiting a new V-P Central Canada & V-P Sustainability

Competitions are underway for two key V-P roles at Restaurants Canada. The V-P, Central Canada role was recently vacated by Tracy Macgregor’s promotion to COO, and the V-P, Sustainability role was created to support members and advocacy work specific to the growing regulatory and policy landscape around this important topic. We look forward to announcing the new team members soon. 


From Maximilien Roy | Vice-President, Federal and Quebec

National: International students: What you need to know
Restaurants Canada meeting with Immigration Canada February 8thon new measures and removing the cap on off-campus work hours.

On Monday, Immigration Minister Marc Miller announced that the government will reduce the number of new visas it will deliver to international students for the next two years by 35 per cent. In 2024, 360,000 new undergraduate study permits will be delivered for all of Canada. Visas are valid for the duration of the program plus 90 days; as most programs are between two and four years, this new measure will maintain roughly the same number of international students overall.

This announcement is made in the context of the housing crisis, and the federal government’s assessment that some institutions accepted international students without ensuring their well-being in terms of housing and living conditions.

We are meeting with officials from Immigration Canada this week and will raise our concerns with them on this new measure. We will also point out that the well-being of international students can also be improved by permanently removing the 20 hours-per-week off-campus work limit, which would also help with the labour shortage issue restaurants and other industries face.

National: Wood-fired Ovens and the National Pollutant Release Inventory (NPRI)
Minister’s Office and Environment Canada confirm annual pollution release reporting on wood-fired ovens is not happening…at least for now.

Following recent reports in the media that some officials from Environment Canada were trying to add restaurants using wood-fired ovens to the list of businesses that must send annual reports detailing their facilities’ total pollution releases to the NPRI, Restaurants Canada reached out to Minister Steven Guilbeault’s office asking for clarity. We’ve pointed out that this would add a lot of burden on small businesses, and the uncertainty around whether they had to report their emissions was both unnecessary and poorly timed.

We received reassurance from the Minister’s office that they were not looking to add reporting duties for restaurants using wood-fired ovens to the NPRI. These reassurances were repeated publicly by Environment Canada today.

Should you get calls or visits from representatives of the NPRI, please email me directly. We will remain vigilant on this file. 


From Jordi Morgan | Vice-President, Atlantic

Atlantic: Pre-Budget Submissions Underway
Restaurants Canada focusing on inflation, labour and alcohol pricing.
It’s budget preparation time for most provincial governments and Restaurants Canada is active developing pre-budget submissions for all four Atlantic provinces. Our lobbying efforts federally, provincially and municipally in 2024 are focusing on inflation relief and labour issues. We’ll also be bringing forward recommendations to improve alcohol pricing throughout Atlantic Canada where costs remain persistently high for foodservice operators.

Atlantic: Building Relationships
Restaurants Canada is actively engaging and strengthening relationships in Nova Scotia and the Atlantic to advance sector priorities.

In January, I met with a number of influential people and organizations with interests in our sector including the Downtown Halifax Business Commission, the Greater Halifax Partnership, the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness, Efficiency Nova Scotia, Discover Halifax, the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia, Dalhousie University’s “Food Professor” Sylvain Charlebois, the Atlantic Economic Council, the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia Executive, the Nova Scotia Community College, and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

I will be in Prince Edward Island next week and in Newfoundland and Labrador later in February to meet with members, government ministers, caucus, and opposition members of the Assembly. These visits are designed to provide policy makers with a clear picture of the state-of-the-industry and explore possible actions which will benefit operators in the food and beverage sector.

Nova Scotia: Savour Food & Wine Festival
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia (RANS) is feeling the love. Celebrating its 20th year, Savour Food & Wine Festival brings together the best of Nova Scotia’s food and beverage talent over five events from February through May. Find out more here.  


From Tracy Macgregor | Chief Operating Officer 

The search is on for a new VP Central Canada. In the meantime, Richard Macgregor and I continue to engage with government and address challenges in Ontario and Manitoba to support our members through the transition.

2024 Ontario Budget

As the Ontario government prepares for the budget, Restaurants Canada has submitted our pre-budget recommendations that are critical to building a more stable, sustainable and prosperous future for the foodservice sector in Ontario.

We have stressed that while the industry has achieved remarkable growth, this growth has not translated into financial stability for operators. We need support from government to address profitability, workforce and growth enabling policy. Read our submission here.

We will continue to build strong relationships and focus our efforts on advocating and engaging with the Ontario government to ensure support and recognition for an industry that is integral to the province’s economic well-being and to the vibrancy of communities across Ontario.

With a new V-P, Central Canada joining Restaurants Canada soon, it remains critical that we have the voices of our members at the table to inform our advocacy efforts.  If you are interested in joining our Regional Advisory Committee to lend your insights and experience to our efforts, please reach out to me directly at:

From Mark von Schellwitz | Vice-President, Western Canada

Western Canada: Regional Advisory Committee Meetings Update

Over the past couple of weeks Restaurants Canada met with member Regional Advisory Committees in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia. These member advisory committees were mostly well attended by a good cross section of members representing a wide range of independent and chain franchisee members. During the meetings advisory committee members highlighted their policy concerns and priorities for 2024. British Columbia and Saskatchewan committee members also provided their initial election platform priorities as those two provinces will be holding elections later this year. 

Chicken Price Increase – Both a BC and National Concern

Proposed increase to live chicken prices in BC could cause a domino effect and add yet another layer of hardship to the besieged Canadian foodservice sector. Restaurants Canada is monitoring the situation closely and weighing options to increase pressure and public awareness.

The recent move to a cost of production (COP) pricing model for supply managed chicken in British Columbia does not take competitive factors into account. This new COP-based pricing process is currently unique to BC and has resulted in a recommendation to the BC Farm Industry Review Board (BCFIRB) for an eight to 10 per cent price increase in 2024. A decision is expected within the next two months.

Even without the proposed increase, chicken is already more expensive in BC than any other province in Canada.

The greater concern is that, if BC makes a permanent switch to the COP model, other provinces may follow suit, increasing live chicken prices across Canada and significantly impacting the profitability and sustainability of many in our industry.

Before the winter holidays, Restaurants Canada engaged with the BC agriculture minister and premier’s office to build awareness of the potential impacts on foodservice sector and request their support in halting the proposed increase. At that time, Restaurants Canada was informed that the board decision was independent and therefore permitted to complete their price setting process without government intervention.

I have continued to seek representation opportunities to share Restaurants Canada’s concerns through various channels; however, access has been limited by the process. 

Restaurants Canada’s position is that, if the BCFIRB agrees to the price increase, it will be too late for our industry to take meaningful action. We issued a press release on January 22nd,  stating that such a closed process impacting our industry and citizens of BC without their representation is flawed, unfair, and less than transparent.  The release calls on government to intervene in the process to protect threatened parties.

We are following this issue closely and will provide regular updates via member channels. For examples of recent press coverage on this issue, please see the links below:

The Globe and Mail:

Food industry groups object to proposed B.C. chicken price increase

Global News:

With chicken prices the highest in Canada, B.C. group pushes back against proposed hike

Save BC Restaurants MLA & City Councillor Townhall Webinar

Restaurants Canada, in collaboration with our BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCRFA) colleagues, developed a Save BC Restaurants Menu of Issues summarizing a wide variety of issues impacting BC restaurants along with policy solutions. The Menu of Issues was distributed to all MLAs as well mayors and city councillors from around the province along with an invitation to attend a January 24th Save BC Restaurants townhall webinar. Media, along with Restaurants Canada and BCRFA members, were also invited to participate.  

A joint BCRFA/Restaurants Canada Save BC Restaurants news release, which includes the Menu of Issues, was also issued prior to the townhall generating considerable media coverage: 

CityNews Vancouver:

‘People could lose their livelihoods’: B.C. restaurants plead for support amid ongoing struggles

Daily Hive Vancouver:

“Holding on by the skin of their teeth”: Struggling BC restaurant industry calls for help

The townhall webinar was emceed by media personality Jody Vance who called on BCRFA and Restaurants Canada to provide participants with an overview of the Menu of Issues’ challenges and solutions followed by an extensive question and answer session. We were pleased with the roughly 200 webinar participants. For those interested members unable to attend the townhall a recording of the webinar can be found here

BCRFA and Restaurants Canada plan to host additional Save BC Restaurants townhall webinars in the coming months, leading up to a BC election which will take place next October. We will send members follow up information on how they can support the Save BC Restaurants campaign. 

In closing, the newest edition of MENU is out now and is packed with practical insights, including consumer trends from Ipsos, innovative beverage trends from Canada’s leading bartenders and sommeliers and future culinary trends highlighted by McCormick’s Flavour Forecast. The issue also shines a light on influential women leaders like Angela Lawrence, Arlene Stein, and Nicki Laborie, as well as must-know Black-owned food and beverage brands. Additionally, it features an exploration of Quebec’s dynamic foodservice industry with insights from our own Maximilien Roy, V-P Federal and Quebec. This is an edition filled with inspiration, perspectives and industry insights not to be missed.

Yours in an unwavering belief in a powerful, profitable future for Canadian foodservice,

Kelly Higginson