B.C. 2020 Election update: Platform comparisons

Published October 20, 2020

Restaurants Canada represents a growing community of 40,000+ members with political opinions that are as diverse as the industry itself. 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% — and this was the case even before the COVID-19 crisis began.

According to a Restaurants Canada survey conducted in September, the majority of British Columbia’s restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by in the face of the ongoing pandemic: 45% of survey respondents said they are operating at a loss and 20% said they are just breaking even.

More than half of restaurants still operating at a loss expect to take at least a year to return to profitability:

  • 6% said 6 months or less.
  • 20% said 7 months to a year.
  • 46% said between a year and 18 months.
  • 29% said more than 18 months.

An estimated 10% of British Columbia’s independent foodservice establishments have already permanently closed due to the impacts of COVID-19 and Restaurants Canada expects that another 40% might not be able to survive beyond March without all levels of government stepping up to provide as much support as possible.

A menu for recovery

With British Columbia heading to the polls on Oct. 24, Restaurants Canada has shared a Menu for Recovery with all major parties seeking to form the next provincial government, containing recommendations to help the foodservice sector pull through and continue contributing to vibrant communities across the province.

Since sharing these recommendations, Restaurants Canada has been encouraged by the number of campaign commitments that British Columbia’s political parties have unveiled addressing many of these key asks.

At least 20 policies have been proposed to date that would positively impact foodservice operations in the province — including at least four positive promises from each of the three major parties.

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

Cash Flow

The BC Liberal Party would:

  • Assist small businesses in adopting COVID-19 protections by providing support for personal protective equipment from WorkSafeBC surpluses.
  • Eliminate provincial sales tax for a year, and then keep it at 3% while the economy grows.
  • Completely eliminate the Small Business Income Tax to help businesses bring more British Columbians back to work and continue contributing to vibrant communities across the province.
  • Conduct a full review of property taxes to ensure small businesses can survive.
  • Take action to address sky-high property tax assessments on small businesses by implementing split assessments.
  • Establish an independent Fair Tax Commission, comprised of non-partisan economic experts, to immediately review all provincial taxes, and to recommend which should be reduced or eliminated to most effectively fuel economic recovery.

The BC Green Party would:

  • Retool the province’s Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grants program to focus on supporting small tourism and hospitality business operators by establishing criteria that make sense in consultation with industry and by accelerating the timeline to ensure grant money can start flowing as soon as possible.
  • Work with the federal government to establish a repayable loan program for tourism and hospitality business operators that exceeds the criteria for the small tourism operator grant program.

Rent & Tenant Protections

The BC Liberal Party would:

  • Implement a short-term commercial rent relief plan that flows relief directly to tenants, and supports small businesses unable to access current relief programs.

The BC Green Party would:

  • Allocate $300 million to create a six-month rent subsidy program for small businesses that would cover 25% of rental costs for eligible commercial tenants (up to a limit of $50,000 in monthly rent costs).

Labour

The BC NDP would:

  • Tie minimum wage to the rate of inflation to provide predictability for employers and workers.

Alcohol

The BC NDP would:

  • Permanently continue emergency measures implemented during the spring allowing licensed establishments to:
    • Purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale cost instead of liquor store retail prices.
    • Sell liquor products with delivery and takeout.

The BC Liberal Party would:

  • Permanently continue emergency measures implemented during the spring allowing licensed establishments to:
    • Purchase beer, wine and spirits at wholesale cost instead of liquor store retail prices, from any liquor store.
    • Sell liquor products with delivery and takeout.

Foodservice Sector Support & Red Tape Reduction

The BC NDP would:

  • Permanently streamline the approval process for the expansion of service areas, such as patios.
  • Implement a 15% cap on third-party delivery service fees.
  • Stimulate consumer spending with:
    • A one-time $1,000 direct deposit to families whose household income is under $125,000 annually — with a sliding scale up to $175,000.
    • A one-time $500 direct deposit to single people earning less than $62,000 annually — with a sliding scale up to $87,000.

The BC Liberal Party would:

  • Appoint a non-partisan panel to help dramatically reduce the red tape burden on small businesses, by reviewing regulatory requirements and costs, and providing recommendations on the best steps to fuel economic recovery.
  • Permanently streamline the approval process for the expansion of service areas, such as patios.
  • Implement a 15% cap on third-party delivery service fees.

The BC Green Party would:

  • Permanently streamline the approval process for the expansion of service areas, such as patios, working with local governments and stakeholders to ensure that patio expansions are maintained in a safe and sustainable way.

Election resources

Restaurants Canada encourages all members in British Columbia to make their voice heard on Oct. 24.

Visit our B.C. election resources page to learn more about our policy recommendations, how to engage your network and vote!

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada, at mark@restaurantscanada.org or 1-800-387-5649 ext. 6500.

Marlee Wasser

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