Today’s announcement of Manitoba’s 2023 budget has the province’s foodservice sector feeling left out. Restaurants Canada appreciates the focus of the 2023 budget on alleviating the pressures of inflation and its commitment to making the province a more affordable place to live, work, and operate a business. However, the budget simply doesn’t go far enough to address the province’s acute labour shortage and mounting financial pressures that businesses, specifically those in the foodservice industry, have been grappling with coming out of the pandemic.
“Restaurants Canada and Manitoba’s foodservice sector were encouraged to learn that the budget included some minor financial relief, which was reflected in the changes made to the Provincial Basic Personal Amount, the tax bracket enhancements and Manitoba Hydro’s electricity rate reduction from 3.5 per cent to two per cent, for 2023/24 and 2024/25,” said Jennifer Henshaw, Vice President, Prairies and the North with Restaurants Canada. “However, the provincial government missed the mark when it comes to providing targeted sector support and business tax relief to help Manitoba’s struggling foodservice operators fully recover, and alleviate the significant financial burden the industry was saddled with as a result of the pandemic.”
A recent Restaurants Canada survey revealed that 75 per cent of table-service restaurants are still in debt due to the loss in business and rising costs during the pandemic. This compares to 66 per cent of ‘all other foodservice,’ such as bars, and 51 per cent of quick-service restaurants. Of those still in debt, nearly 80 per cent of independent table-service restaurants owe between $50,000 and $500,000 – an enormous burden. Meanwhile, 20 per cent of chain table-service restaurants have incurred more than $1 million in debt, with many operating between 5 and 25 locations. The survey also revealed that one in four independent table-service restaurants said their business is not expected to recover from the debt incurred due to the pandemic unless current conditions change.
“Restaurants Canada was also disappointed to learn that the budget did not contain any hospitality-focused hiring incentives or new measures to help the industry attract and retain valued employees which they desperately need,” added Henshaw. “The sector continues to struggle to fill growing job vacancies, with 4,500 open roles in food and hospitality – a number that has more than doubled from pre-pandemic levels.”
Restaurants Canada will continue to advocate for sector-specific solutions that work to alleviate financial pressures, red tape and address our industry’s labour crisis. Restaurants Canada looks forward to continuing to work alongside the Manitoba Government to keep local businesses, and specifically those within foodservice alive.