Ontario’s restaurants call for immediate guidance to prepare for reopening next week

Published January 19, 2022

On behalf of the province’s foodservice industry, Restaurants Canada is urgently calling on the Ontario government to provide guidance for reopening indoor dining when current restrictions end.

TORONTO — Restaurants Canada is calling on the Ontario government to immediately provide the province’s foodservice industry with clear guidance for reopening indoor dining next week.

“Restaurants can’t simply open their doors at a moment’s notice,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “They need to order food and supplies, schedule staff and prepare menus. With Ontario’s latest closure of indoor dining set to end on Jan. 26, restaurant operators deserve to know by now if these latest restrictions will be completely lifted or if dining will continue to be restricted to the 50% capacity limit imposed in December.”

Restaurants Canada has sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford, renewing the industry’s call to meet with policymakers and public health officials to gain insights into decisions impacting foodservice operations. The letter also renewed calls for further support to help the province’s hard-hit foodservice businesses recover from the massive amounts of debt they’ve incurred due to restrictive public health measures.

Further support urgently needed to ensure survival of Ontario’s restaurants

According to a Restaurants Canada survey conducted in the summer of 2021: 8 out of 10 independent restaurant operators have taken on debt due to the COVID-19 crisis.

  • Nearly 75% said they’d taken on more than $50,000 in debt.
  • 25% said they’d taken on between $100,000 and $500,000 in debt.
  • Nearly half (43%) of those in debt said it will take more than 18 months for their business to recover.

“With restaurants across Ontario now taking on more and more debt due to the province’s latest restrictions, ensuring they will have enough cash flow to continue their operations is becoming increasingly critical,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada. “Current emergency aid from the provincial government only covers a small portion of losses and leaves out many hard-hit businesses altogether. Our industry deserves sufficient compensation and a seat at the decision-making table to work with government on ways to stop the roller coaster of restaurant closures.”

Restaurants Canada is continuing to call for:

  • A deferral of HST payments to help restaurants preserve cash flow.
  • An increase in funding available through the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant program, as well as an expansion of the eligibility requirements — this program currently fails to ensure hard-hit restaurant operators with more than 100 staff across multiple locations will be able to access sufficient support to cover closing and reopening costs for each of their establishments.
  • A re-imposition of Ontario’s moratorium on commercial tenant evictions, which expired on Dec. 31, 2021.
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 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 is still struggling to recover more than 50,000 jobs and at least $20 billion in lost revenue due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Marlee Wasser

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