Ontario’s restaurants are calling on the province to pay $100+ million tab for shut downs

Published April 6, 2021

On behalf of the province’s foodservice industry, Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association are calling for swift action to reverse the devastating impacts of dining closures.

TORONTO — Last week’s abrupt move to shut down all restaurant dining so soon after easing restrictions has cost Ontario’s restaurant industry more than $100 million in reopening and closing costs alone.

In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association are calling for the following actions to reverse the devastating impacts of dining closures:

  • For public health measures to be fair and effective, all industries must be impacted equally.
  • Patio dining should remain available as an alternative to private gatherings, as safe options for enjoying outdoor activities are important for people’s mental health.
  • All restaurants should be supported financially to mitigate rising debt in the following ways:
    • Further funding through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program and an amendment to the rules to ensure every foodservice establishment is able to receive funding.
    • A sector-specific program for covering reopening/closure costs such as wasted inventory, staffing costs, patio setup/takedown, etc.
    • An expansion of the property tax and energy cost rebate programs to include all foodservice businesses that have been impacted by Red-Control level restrictions.
    • An immediate end to the 6% markup that restaurants pay to buy alcohol from the LCBO.

“Our Ontario members have told us they lose about $10,000 every time one of their establishments is suddenly ordered to shut down dining services,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada. “For a restaurant that’s been through three lockdowns, the province’s $20,000 small business grant hardly covers their closing and reopening costs, let alone compensation for revenue lost while shut down.”

Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association have asked Premier Ford for the opportunity to meet as soon as possible to lay the groundwork for a sector-specific recovery plan.

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, Ontario’s foodservice sector was a $37 billion industry, directly employing more than 450,000 people, providing the province’s number one source of first jobs and serving more than 9 million customers every day. Ontario’s foodservice industry has since lost more than 100,000 jobs and is on track to lose more than $20 billion in sales between 2020 and 2021 due to the impacts of COVID-19.

For more information, contact:

James Rilett
Vice President, Central Canada
Restaurants Canada
C: 416-738-9546
jrilett@restaurantscanada.org

Marlee Wasser
Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Restaurants Canada
T: 416-649-4254
Toll-free: 1-800-387-5649 ext. 4254
media@restaurantscanada.org

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