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We are not asking for funding; we’re just asking for more time

The January 18th Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan repayment deadline is only days away and Restaurants Canada continues to urgently request the federal government to extend the deadline, emphasizing the severe impact on the foodservice industry. 

We are not asking for funding; we’re just asking for more time. Despite our efforts, the government has not agreed to an extension, leaving many of our members and other businesses facing potential bankruptcy or unnecessary strain for an arbitrary date. A recent survey indicates that 20 per cent of restaurants with a CEBA loan are at the precipice of closure. Our sector, already struggling with low profit margins, has been hit hard by prolonged lockdowns, high inflation, rising food costs, and labour shortages, leading to 53 per cent of restaurants operating at a loss or just breaking even, which was just 10 per cent pre-pandemic. This is both staggering and absolutely gutting. 

From Restaurants Canada’s perspective, the fight’s not over and we are focused on telling the story and sharing the value of this vibrant $100 billion industry in communities across the country. The extensive media coverage we’ve been receiving is encouraging and suggests the looming loss of community restaurants and small businesses has been recognized by many as a serious blow to community economies and social connectivity. This is not only about supporting restaurant and small business owners, but also about advocating for the wellbeing of communities across Canada. 

  • Toronto Star: One in five restaurants with a pandemic loan at risk of closing as repayment deadline looms
    BNN Bloomberg: Restaurants Canada warns of widespread closures without loan extension
  • CTV News London: ‘We’re right on the line’: Calls grow for government to extend loan deadline for small businesses
  • CP24: Restaurants Canada demands extension to CEBA loan repayment deadline
  • Global News | Good Morning Hamilton with Rick Zamperin : Click ‘Play’ on the clip leading with “Israel-Hamas war protestors become bolder…”
  • Canada’s Podcast: Restaurants Canada demands extension to CEBA loan repayment deadline

In parallel, the team is working with regional advocates and partner associations on a series of important tools and initiatives to help support the industry through other headwinds and challenges. In recognition of the labour challenges faced by members across the country, the Restaurants Canada team has completed the development of an Immigration Toolkit. Designed to help operators navigate the complexities of the Canadian immigration system, the toolkit simplifies and clarifies the process to help make it easier to embrace our sector’s history of hiring newcomers, recognizing that roughly half of all Canadian restaurants are run by people who came to Canada as immigrants. We encourage you to access the toolkit and hope it will help streamline your recruitment efforts.

I also want to bring your attention to the recent announcement regarding the Recognized Employer Pilot under the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program. I encourage the industry to take advantage of all pilot programs so we can continue to work with the government on immigration solutions for our industry’s needs. 

Starting on January 8th, you will now be able to submit applications for positions on Service Canada’s Phase 2 REP occupations list which includes Chefs (62200), Cooks (63200), Food and beverage servers (65200), and kitchen helpers (65201) among others.

You have until September 16, 2024, to submit your application to become a recognized employer. Please see this recent announcement from Vice-President Atlantic Maximilien Roy for more details. 

SAVE THE DATE! I highly recommend you clear your calendar for RC Show 2024, taking place April 8 to 10th at the Enercare Centre in Toronto. This year’s Show theme is Level Up, and runs throughout a lineup of world-class speakers, panels, learning sessions and competitions curated to restore profitability and forward momentum to the sector. The programming team is laser focused on delivering the incredibly valuable insights, tools and skills the industry needs to rebalance, rebound and succeed in the new and evolving business landscape, from revenue-driving food and drink trends, margin-positive ingredients, and the latest in technology, equipment, and products to people, culture and best practices. 

Registration for RC Show 2024 is now open, and I encourage all of you to attend and bring a delegation of team members to help re-energize and collaborate to level up your businesses. As always, RC Show is free for all Restaurants Canada members. There’s no better opportunity to recalibrate, reconnect and grow with the national foodservice community. 

The holidays were (as they always are) a busy time for many in our industry and, based on feedback received, the Garland Canada Culinary Competition has extended the application deadline to January 17 at 11:59 PM EST.. Encouraging emerging culinary talent to apply to compete is a wonderful way to both recognize and develop their skills and experience. Additionally, the competition is committed to promoting diversity and inclusivity by ensuring that at least half of the participants are women and by giving precedence to culinary professionals from BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) communities. You can get the full Garland Canada Culinary Competition details here. 

I am delighted to share that Canada Food Safety is now a Restaurants Canada Preferred Partner, collaborating with Restaurants Canada to support foodservice businesses in upholding the highest food safety standards. Through the recognized partnership programs, members can earn provincially accredited training and certifications at exclusive member rates, with a Pass Guarantee that entitles participants to retake final exams as many times as needed, at no additional cost. These swift and straightforward courses are designed with the schedules of foodservice professionals in mind and offer excellent value. You can learn more and register for the Canada Food Safety program here.

The restaurant industry has faced lengthy challenges related to tip management, from intricate administrative processes to staying informed on evolving labor laws and policies. Recognizing these hurdles, Restaurants Canada has partnered with Atlas, a hospitality technology company, which has built a solution that not only simplifies the tip distribution process but also empowers our members with an efficient and compliant solution, Atlas Direct Tips (ADT), which automates tip distribution and helps restaurants and employees become exempt from CPP and EI on tips. As part of this partnership, Atlas Direct Tips is extending an exclusive offer to members, providing a 20 per cent discount on subscription fees for the first year. 

Finally, registration is open for the valuable January 23rd webinar, “Scaling from 1 to 2”, with The Fifteen Group. This exciting session is presented by David Hopkins, President of The Fifteen Group, and focuses on how restaurants can scale by preparing their business for sustainable and profitable franchise opportunities. Learn more and register here.


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

Federal Alcohol Excise Tax Campaign
With no promise of relief in sight, Restaurants Canada and partners are increasing awareness and advocacy efforts.

The Federal Government continues to show no sign of capping the planned federal excise tax increase of 4.7 per cent scheduled for April 2024. Restaurants Canada has been asking for the planned increase to be capped at 2 per cent as was done last year in deference to ongoing inflationary pressures continue and the desperate need for relief for our industry. 

On January 8th, Restaurants Canada met with partners Beer Canada, Spirits Canada, and Wine Growers of Canada at RC’s offices in Toronto to discuss next steps. The group is preparing to heighten attention on the issue in Ottawa with a campaign targeting MPs. The plan is to launch the joint campaign in February.  

Restaurants Canada: Vice-President, Sustainability & Vice-President, Central Canada Roles Open

Two Restaurants Canada Government Relations positions are currently vacant; however, efforts to fill these positions are underway.

Vice-President, Sustainability 

The Vice-President, Sustainability position is a new role designed to provide government relations and communication support for the industry across the country. Sustainability is likely to remain a key issue for our industry for the foreseeable future and a dedicated position to navigate and advocate for our industry focused on the nuances of this policy portfolio will help ensure our industry’s voice is coordinated and strong at the federal, provincial and municipal levels.

Vice-President, Central Canada

The Vice-President, Central Canada position was recently made vacant by the promotion of Tracy Macgregor to the position of Chief Operating Officer at Restaurants Canada. With Tracy’s talents now being utilized by RC in a different way, efforts to find her replacement started immediately.  In the meantime, Tracy, and I will continue to move our Ontario advocacy forward until a permanent replacement can be found.   


From Maximilien Roy | Vice-President, Federal and Quebec

Quebec: Pre-Budget Consultations Ready to Launch
Restaurants Canada plans to address industry challenges in pre-budget submission and meetings.

Quebec Finance Minister Eric Girard is about to officially launch the prebudget consultations. Restaurants Canada is finalizing its submission and intends to meet with the minister to share the industry’s concerns with an emphasis on the labour shortage, high inflation, and the administrative burden on provincial operators. 

Do you have specific issues you’d like us to raise? Please send them to:   


From Jordi Morgan | Vice-President, Atlantic

NFLD & Labrador: Hospitality Newfoundland & Labrador Annual Meeting
Annual meeting planned for February 20-22nd in St. John’s.
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador are holding their annual meeting February 20th to 22nd at the Delta Hotel in downtown St. John’s. The 2024 HNL Conference and Trade Show brings together people who are experiencing similar business growth and profitability challenges to connect and exchange ideas and perspectives. I will have the honour and pleasure of representing Restaurants Canada at this important event and hope to meet you there. Learn more and register here.  

Nova Scotia: Tourism Sector Consultations are Underway
Restaurants Canada encourages members to register for regional sessions.
Consultations in the tourism sector are taking place across Nova Scotia and provide an opportunity for foodservice businesses to provide input on the development of the region’s tourism sector strategic plan. The plan is being co-developed by The Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) and Tourism Nova Scotia (TNS) and is intended to inspire a broader approach to economic growth and quality of life in Nova Scotia. Register online for in-person regional engagement sessions in Wolfville, Truro, Baddeck, Antigonish, Halifax and Bridgewater in the coming weeks. 

Nova Scotia: EPR Program for PPP Moving Forward
Reminder for affected businesses to create an account and register.
As a final reminder, Nova Scotia’s Extended Producer Responsibility Program for Packaging, Paper and Packaging-Like Products (EPR for PPP) continues to move forward. We sent information to our members about the online portal, which is now open, and encourage foodservice businesses with EPR obligations to create an account and register. 

While the deadline was January 1st, the portal is still open here.  

Nova Scotia: Meetings scheduled with Premier & Halifax Mayor
I had the opportunity to ring in 2024 with Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston and Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Mike Savage thanks to a kind invitation from Devonian Coast Winery Founder and CEO Carl Sparkes. While it was a night for celebration, meetings are being scheduled with both to talk about how the province and the municipality can assist the industry in the new year. 

From left to right: Carl Sparkes, Founder & CEO, Devonian Coast Winery; Tim Houston, Premier of Nova Scotia; Mike Savage, Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor; and Jordi Morgan, VP Atlantic, Restaurants Canada.

PEI: Upcoming Foodservice Facts Presentations to Government and Operators
I will be in Prince Edward Island the first week of February to meet with government officials and operators to present Restaurant Canada’s key findings from the 2023 edition of Foodservice Facts and discuss the conclusions stemming from PEI’s recent Employment Standards Act comprehensive review.  


Saskatchewan: Advocacy Efforts for Restaurant Sector Training Grant
Restaurants Canada urges the creation of an employer-focused, in-house training grant.
The first week of January, Restaurants Canada was able to meet with senior officials from the Training and Employer Services branch of the Ministry of Immigration and Career Services to advocate for the creation of an employer-focused training grant within one of the province’s existing programs to cover in-house training for the restaurant and hospitality sector. The proposed training program would include front and back of house staff and be delivered within the restaurant or foodservice business setting.

Saskatchewan: Meeting with Deputy Leader of the Opposition on Bill 613 on the books
Restaurants Canada will meet with Nicole Sarauer to address pending minimum wage hike and proposed increase in employer-paid sick days.

Restaurants Canada is looking forward to an upcoming meeting with Nicole Sarauer, the MLA for Regina Douglas Park and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, to highlight our industry’s concerns regarding a number of sections in Bill 613 – The Saskatchewan Employment (Fairer Workplaces, Better Jobs) Amendment Act, 2023, which was introduced by the opposition in the fall of 2023. Specifically, we propose to push the planned seven per cent minimum wage hike from October 2024 to January 2025 and discuss the Bill’s proposed 10 days of employer-paid sick leave.

Manitoba: Liquor Policy Meeting with Hon. Glen Simard
Restaurants Canada and MRFA discuss the need for licensee discounts with new Minister.
Last week, Restaurants Canada and our provincial counterpart from the MRFA met with the Hon. Glen Simard, Manitoba’s new minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation, to discuss several of our industry’s liquor-related policy issues with a focus on the need for a meaningful discount on all liquor products for licensed establishments to improve profitability and affordability. Updates on Manitoba liquor policy discussions will follow as conversations continue.

From Mark von Schellwitz | Vice-President, Western Canada

Alberta: Calgary Single-Use Items Bylaw

Further to previous updates, I would like to issue a final reminder that Calgary’s Single-Use Item Reduction Bylaw will be implemented on January 16th, 2024 (tomorrow). In preparation for implementation, more information on the bylaw can be found here

Alberta: Banff Single-Use Items Bylaw

Restaurants Canada encourages foodservice operators to apply for reusable food ware exemption.

Phase two of Banff’s Single-Use Items Reduction Bylaw came into effect January 1, 2024. As a result, businesses are no longer allowed to provide plastic shopping bags and must charge a $0.25 fee for paper bags and a $2 fee for reusable bags. Businesses are now required to provide reusable food ware for dine-in services. However, thanks to Restaurants Canada’s advocacy efforts, businesses can apply for an exemption from the reusable food ware requirement if they can demonstrate that they cannot accommodate on-site or off-site dishwashing facilities due to space, financial or other special circumstances. More information on Banff’s SUI bylaw can be found here

Alberta: Announcement Pending on AAIP Tourism & Hospitality Stream

Restaurants Canada continues to work with the Immigration Minister’s office on details of an upcoming announcement of the implementation of Alberta’s new AAIP Tourism and Hospitality Stream. Restaurants Canada will provide members with program details after the announcement. 

BC: Employer Health Tax Exemption
Restaurants Canada joins business groups calling for changes to exemption threshold.

Restaurants Canada has joined with a dozen other business associations on a final pre-budget Business Community EHT letter to the finance minister requesting the BC government raise the exemption threshold for the Employer Health Tax from $500,000 in payroll to $1.5 million in recognition that most small businesses now have a payroll that is larger than $500K. This has been a long-standing Restaurants Canada budget recommendation. The letter also advocates for businesses with payrolls between $1.5 million and $4 million to pay a reduced EHT rate. 

BC: Proposed Chicken Price Increase
Restaurants Canada opposes Chicken Marketing Board’s requested COP increase.

Restaurants Canada continues to advocate against the BC Chicken Marketing Board’s request to the BC Farm Industry Review Board (FIRB) for a cost of production (COP) increase that would lead to a roughly 10 per cent increase in chicken prices. 

Restaurants Canada is frustrated by the price increase process where restaurants, retail and other BC chicken consumers have no platform to present arguments against the price increase within the FIRB approval process. Restaurants Canada has voiced its frustration on the process to FIRB, the Minister of Agriculture, and premier’s office asking that government intervene to ensure that FIRB understands our arguments against the proposed chicken price increase as restaurants continue to struggle with unsustainable holistic food cost increases. Restaurants Canada will continue to advocate against this price increase until FIRB makes a final decision on the proposed price increase expected in the next couple of months.

BC: Save BC Restaurants MLA & City Councillor Town Hall Meeting
Plans for a virtual meeting tentatively scheduled for January 22nd are in the works.

Restaurants Canada is working with BC Restaurant and Foodservice Association (BCRFA) colleagues on organizing a virtual townhall with BC’s MLAs and city councillors tentatively scheduled for January 22nd. Restaurants Canada and BCRFA are in the process of developing a “Save BC Restaurants Menu of Issues” that will be sent to MLAs and city councillors prior to the town hall meeting. 

In an industry as dynamic and challenging as ours, continuous improvement isn’t just a goal—it’s a necessity. There’s no panacea for the challenges foodservice is facing, and I know how busy all of you are, but I firmly believe that investing the time to explore new options and ideas is an investment in the sustained success and growth of businesses.

I encourage you to explore and take advantage of the suite of resources offered by Restaurants Canada and the benefits and cost saving and training opportunities we’ve negotiated with partner organizations. These meticulously tailored tools, enlightening webinars, and innovative programs are specifically designed to empower your business and help restore profitability. Embracing these opportunities can help equip you with the knowledge and skills to excel and adapt to the evolving landscape of hospitality. 

Committed to working together for a vibrant, evolving and profitable future for Canadian foodservice,

Kelly Higginson