Federal Election 2021: Raising our voice for restaurants

Published September 9, 2021

Restaurants Canada represents a growing community of 40,000+ members with political opinions that are as diverse as our industry itself:

  • Women make up 58% of the foodservice workforce.
  • 31% of restaurant owners, operators and staff belong to a visible minority.
  • Half of all Canadian restaurants are run by talented, hardworking, entrepreneurs who came here as immigrants.
  • 1 in 5 Canadians between the ages of 15 and 24 are employed in restaurants.

But one thing our members all agree on is that running a foodservice business is incredibly challenging. According to the latest available data from Statistics Canada, the average Canadian restaurant has a profit margin of less than 5 per cent — and this was the case even before the COVID-19 crisis began.

That’s because no other sector keeps so little in profit and returns so much to our economy: 95 cents of every dollar spent at a restaurant typically goes toward local jobs, purchases from Canadian farmers, food and beverage producers and other foodservice industry suppliers, contributions to charity and more.

Sector-specific support needed from next federal government

Canada’s restaurant sector consisted of roughly 98,000 establishments before the pandemic struck. An estimated 10% of all foodservice operations (roughly 10,000 locations) have since permanently closed due to the ongoing crisis.

Most of Canada’s restaurants are still struggling to survive in the wake of COVID-19:

  • 8 out of 10 foodservice businesses have been losing money or barely scraping by throughout the entire pandemic, and have been taking on debt.
  • A quarter of restaurant operators struggling with pandemic debt say their business will not be able to recover unless current conditions change.

With a federal election coming up on Sept. 20, we asked restaurateurs what Canada’s next government can do to help them remain in the picture.

Visit SupportRestaurants.ca to:

  • Watch our video featuring restaurant operators from across the country talking about what they need to survive the ongoing pandemic.
  • Read our full list of government policy recommendations to help restaurants preserve their livelihoods, continue employing 1.2 million Canadians and keep contributing to vibrant communities across the country.

Since sharing these recommendations, Restaurants Canada has been encouraged to see campaign commitments from all the main federal parties responding to a number of our key asks.

Below is a breakdown of all the policy pledges made in the four areas where Restaurants Canada has called for solutions.

Restaurant Survival Support

Liberal Party Commitments
An extension of the Canada Recovery Hiring Program to March 31, 2022.
Conservative Party Commitments
A “Canada Job Surge Plan” — paying up to 50% of the salary of net new hires for 6 months following the end of CEWS, which would include:
– At least 25% of the salary of a net new hire, with the subsidy increasing up to a maximum of 50% based on how long the new hire has been unemployed.
– A salary maximum that is equal to that of CEWS.

A “Main Street Business Loan” program, which would provide:
– Loans for up to 4 months of pre-pandemic revenue up to a maximum of $200,000.
– Loan forgiveness for up to 25%, depending on a company’s revenue loss.
NDP Commitments
A continuation of the wage and rent subsidies until small businesses are able to fully reopen, as well as a long-term hiring bonus to pay the employer portion of EI and CPP for new or rehired staff.

Restaurant Relaunch Measures

Liberal Party Commitments
Support for proof of vaccination systems to give Canadians confidence that it’s safe to go to restaurants, including legislation to ensure that every business that decides to require a proof of vaccination from employees and customers can do so without fear of a legal challenge.

Microgrants of up to $2,400 to smaller Main Street businesses so they can afford the costs of new technology, as well as zero-interest loans to small and medium-sized businesses so they can finance larger technology adoption projects.
Conservative Party Commitments
A “Dine and Discover” program, which would include:
– A 50% rebate for food and non-alcoholic drinks purchased for dine-in from Monday to Wednesday for one month, once it is safe to do so, pumping nearly $1 billion into the restaurant sector.
– The launch of an “Explore and Support Canada” initiative with a 15% tax credit for vacation expenses of up to $1,000 per person, for Canadians to travel within Canada in 2022, helping our tourism sector get back on its feet.

A “Rebuild Main Street Tax Credit” program, which would provide a 25% tax credit on amounts of up to $100,000 that Canadians personally invest in a small business over the next two years, to incentivize helping entrepreneurs rebuild our country.
NDP Commitments
TBD

Labour Development

Liberal Party Commitments
Reforms to economic immigration programs to expand pathways to permanent residence for temporary foreign workers and former international students through the Express Entry points system.

A Trusted Employer system to streamline application process for Canadian companies hiring temporary foreign workers to fill labour shortages that cannot be filled by Canadian workers.

$10 a day child care.
Conservative Party Commitments
Stronger pathways to permanent residency for newcomers living and working in Canada.

The Child Care Expense deduction will be converted into a refundable tax credit covering up to 75% of the cost of child care for lower income families.
NDP Commitments
Public, universal pharmacare to save businesses approximately $600 per employee with extended health benefits every year.

A universal, $10 a day child-care system.

A “Do No Harm” Approach to Taxes, Fees & Red Tape

Liberal Party Commitments
TBD
Conservative Party Commitments
The elimination of the escalator tax on alcohol.

Promotion of a circular economy for plastics, ensuring responsible recycling instead of bans.
NDP Commitments
An end to gouging from credit card companies by capping merchant fees at a maximum of 1%.

Learn more and make your voice heard!

Working together with Restaurants Canada, the next federal government can help foodservice businesses continue playing an integral part of the social and economic fabric of our communities.

We encourage all Canadians to take action in the following ways and support restaurants on Sept. 20:

  • Visit SupportRestaurants.ca to learn more about our policy recommendations and share them with your network.
  • Visit the Elections Canada website for information on your electoral riding, polling place and local candidates.

Restaurants Canada looks forward to ensuring all policies put forward to help our hardest-hit sector are kept on the table after Election Day.

Marlee Wasser

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