While Restaurants Canada has appreciated the long-standing government support over these last two years that helped our industry survive the pandemic, today’s 2022 federal budget falls short of the sector-specific commitments required to help the 90,000 restaurants recover and rebuild
TORONTO, April 7, 2022 — Restaurants Canada welcomes a number of commitments unveiled today in the federal budget, but continues to call for extended loan forgiveness and repayment to aid in the foodservice industry’s revival, as *80 per cent of restaurants have taken on debt due to COVID-19, and nearly two-thirds of these businesses need at least a year and a half to recover.
Today’s Key Budget Elements for the Foodservice Industry
We appreciate the commitment of the federal government to support the tourism sector, working with industry, provincial and territorial counterparts and Indigenous tourism operators to develop a new post-pandemic ‘Federal Tourism Growth Strategy,’ which will help the sector plot a course for growth, investment, and stability.
In addition, Restaurants Canada commends the federal government for committing to the following measures in support of restaurants and other hard-hit small businesses:
- Elimination of the excise duty on low-alcohol beer, effective as of July 1, 2022
- Building on the government’s announcement earlier this week to improve key elements of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program under the Workforce Solutions Road Map in support of the foodservice sector, this budget recognizes the importance of immigration as another key driver of workforce growth.
- Phasing out access to the small business tax rate more gradually, with access to be fully phased out when taxable capital reaches $50 million, rather than at $15 million
- The government is also undertaking a review to assess whether the tax system is providing adequate support to investments in growing businesses. The review will include an examination of the rollover for small business investments. This measure allows investors in small businesses to defer tax on capital gains.
- The government will continue current consultations with stakeholders on solutions to lower the cost of fees for merchants.
“We appreciate that the government has listened to our industry on several of our key issues, including the elimination of the punitive alcohol excise tax on certain products,” said Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec Affairs, Olivier Bourbeau. “This represents a first step, but it is still the foodservice industry that was the hardest hit by the pandemic, with operators taking on enormous mountains of debt to survive. This has made the need for extensions on loan repayments through to the fall, more crucial than ever before.”
Further Support Needed
To create the best possible conditions for recovery after over two years of either losing money or barely breaking even, foodservice operators need the government to take a “do no harm” approach with taxes, fees and regulations. We are therefore disappointed that today’s budget reiterates the prohibition of certain single-use plastics in 2022.
Restaurants Canada therefore remains committed to working with all levels of government toward:
- Sector-specific funding programs dedicated to the foodservice industry that offer extensions on loan reimbursement, tax credits and/or other sources of funding to defray the exorbitant costs incurred from pandemic safety expenditures
- “Do no harm” approach to taxes, fees and regulations to create the best possible conditions for recovery after over two years of losing money or barely breaking even
- A whole-of-society approach to waste reduction, recognizing the need for consumer education to ensure single-use takeout and delivery items are successfully recycled or composted.
“Even before the emergence of COVID-19, consumer demand for takeout and delivery was already on the rise. Now over two years into this global crisis, the pandemic has very clearly reinforced the critical need for single-use items to ensure the health and well-being of Canadians as they continue to expect off-premise dining options,” added Bourbeau.
As we look toward building back a stronger, more sustainable economy for our post-pandemic future, restaurants have a pivotal role to play. Restaurants Canada looks forward to discussing our recommendations with key government policymakers in the coming weeks to ensure the voice of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry is heard.
*Findings from survey conducted by Restaurants Canada in February 2022
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.