From survival to revival: Restaurants Canada is calling for coordinated national action to support “hardest hit” sector

Published December 8, 2020

On behalf of Canada’s vital foodservice sector, Restaurants Canada held a virtual press conference today to discuss:

  • the current viability of restaurant operations;
  • anticipated closures and job losses;
  • challenges ahead on the road to recovery; and
  • the need for coordinated national action to take the industry from survival to revival.

Below are key messages from the press conference, including results from the latest Restaurants Canada survey, which were also shared in a press release.

Half of Canada’s restaurants are at risk of closing in six months

According to the latest survey from Restaurants Canada:

  • Eight out of 10 restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by.
    • 65% are continuing to operate at a loss, while 19% are just breaking even.
    • 63% of foodservice businesses that are losing money expect to take at least a year to return to profitability.
  • 48% of single-unit foodservice operators expect to permanently close their establishment within six months if conditions don’t improve and 56% of multi-unit operators said they expect to close at least one of their locations within the same time period.

Job losses: No other sector is still experiencing such a shortfall

  • Between March and April, more than 800,000 workers in the Canadian foodservice sector lost their jobs or had their hours of work reduced to zero.
  • More than 400,000 restaurant jobs were recovered between May and September, but then the industry began to lose ground again in October, as heightened restrictions during the second wave have resulted in further job losses.
  • According to the November Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, there are still more than 260,000 fewer jobs in the foodservice sector than there were in February.
  • No other industry continues to face this level of shortfall: While other industries have recovered at least 90% of their pandemic job losses, 21% of the foodservice workforce is still not recovered.

Restaurants are a critical, load-bearing pillar of our culture and economy

  • Literally and figuratively, restaurants are key to feeding Canada’s recovery: Even during the best of times, the average establishment keeps only about 50 cents of every $10 spent on a restaurant meal.
  • 95% of restaurant sales go back into the economy in the form of jobs, food and beverage purchases, contributions to charity and more.
  • If we want to build back a stronger, more resilient Canada that continues to reflect our country’s incredible diversity, our industry is the best place to start:
    • Before the pandemic, the foodservice sector was Canada’s fourth-largest employer, directly employing 1.2 million people.
    • Women make up 58% of the restaurant workforce.
    • 31% of restaurant owners, operators and staff belong to a visible minority.
    • Half of all Canadian restaurants are run by people who came here as immigrants.
    • Restaurants are the number 1 source of first jobs for young Canadians.

Call for a national working group

Building on the commitment in the federal government’s 2020 Fall Economic Statement to provide targeted, sector-specific support to restaurants and other “hardest hit” businesses, Restaurants Canada is calling for a national working group to focus on the following key areas in support of the foodservice sector’s revival:

  • Mechanisms for timely consultation on COVID-19 related aid measures, to ensure businesses impacted by significant restrictions are provided sufficient, efficient and effective aid throughout the ongoing economic and public health crisis.

  • Joint communications materials and campaigns to:
    • Reassure Canadians that restaurants provide safe and reliable meal options; and
    • Promote takeout and delivery to show support for struggling entrepreneurs, restaurant staff and local food suppliers.

  • Coordinated action on key issues of concern for foodservice businesses to develop and implement solutions over the short, medium and long term through innovative, multi-stakeholder discussions to ensure restaurant operators are set up for success in the post-pandemic economic environment.

Everyone interested in joining the call for a dedicated working group to help restaurants support Canada’s economic recovery can send a letter to their Member of Parliament at: https://info.restaurantscanada.org/covid19recovery

Marlee Wasser

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