8 out of 10 restaurants need federal subsidies expanded to survive fall and winter

Published October 12, 2021

If the wage and rent subsidies end this month, most foodservice businesses will struggle to pay staff and suppliers, according to latest Restaurants Canada survey.

TORONTO — Restaurants Canada is calling on the federal government to increase and extend the wage and rent subsidies into 2022 to ensure foodservice businesses can pull through the ongoing pandemic.

“The fate of Canada’s 90,000+ restaurants is still uncertain,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Most have been losing money or barely breaking even since coming out of initial lockdown last year, and at least 10,000 establishments have already closed. The rest need government support to help them survive the fall and winter so they can continue feeding our recovery.”

Survey reveals restaurants need further support amid ongoing pandemic

Restaurant operators are innovative and resourceful, but the COVID-19 crisis has stretched their resiliency to the limits. According to survey data from Restaurants Canada:

  • 8 out of 10 restaurants have been operating at a loss or barely scraping by with a profit margin of 2% or less throughout the entire pandemic; nearly half of all foodservice businesses have been consistently losing money ever since the first wave of lockdowns ended last year.
  • 7 out of 10 restaurant operators are still receiving the federal wage and/or rent subsidy, and if these critical sources of support end this month:
    • Nearly 80% said they will struggle to keep existing staff/have to cut staff hours.
    • More than half said they will struggle with hiring back staff/hiring new staff.

Restaurants call for federal subsidies to continue into 2022

In a video available at SupportRestaurants.ca, restaurateurs from across the country opened up about why they need the federal wage and rent subsidies to continue into 2022. Here are a few examples of what they had to say:

The pandemic has hit our network incredibly hard. We’ve lost over 10% of our locations permanently.

— Bruce Miller, The WORKS Craft Burgers & Beer, South St. Burger

It’s just been really difficult to continue to fund the losses, and pay the bills. I’ve taken on a lot more debt.

— Angela Houston, TALO Cafebar (Now Closed)

For these subsidies, to be rolling back now, when we’ve just opened up, there’s no possible chance we can recuperate the amount of losses we’ve experienced.

— Court Desautels, Neighbourhood Group of Companies

What we need to remember is that we need help for the long term. Just because we’re getting back to normal right now, doesn’t mean we don’t have a whole bunch of debt. What we need is long-term recovery.

— Bill Pratt, Chef Inspired Group of Restaurants and Food Trucks

We’re almost there, but we don’t know what’s going to happen in the fall. We don’t know if customers will come back. We don’t know if sales will increase. We don’t know if this pandemic is truly over.

— Ibrahim “Obby” Khan, Shawarma Khan Inc, Green Carrot Juice Co

For more information on what restaurants need to stay in the picture, visit: SupportRestaurants.ca

About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s foodservice sector was a $95 billion industry, directly employing 1.2 million people, providing Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serving 22 million customers across the country every day. The industry has since lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in sales due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Marlee Wasser

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