Ontario’s restaurants need data transparency to keep their dining rooms open

Published October 30, 2020

In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, a coalition of leaders from Ontario’s foodservice sector have asked for the data driving decisions impacting their operations and consultation to address concerns.

TORONTO — Ontario’s restaurants are calling for data to understand why they are being singled out with heightened restrictions as the province continues to respond to a second wave of COVID-19.

Given that dining rooms provide a safe alternative to private gatherings, Restaurants Canada and 45 leaders from Ontario’s foodservice sector have sent a letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for:

  • Clear and transparent data to understand what is driving government decisions related to dining restrictions.
  • Consultation with industry to address any concerns identified by the data.

“Restaurants deserve to see the data driving decisions impacting their operations and have a chance to work with government on solutions to keep their dining rooms open,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Since the start of the pandemic, foodservice operators have made major investments in new procedures, training, personal protective equipment and other means to ensure the highest levels of safety for their staff and patrons. Government should be doing everything possible to help them avoid the devastating consequences of indoor dining closures so they can continue contributing to the economic and social fabric of their communities.”

Indoor dining closures are costing Ontario restaurant sales and jobs

Restaurants Canada estimates that the indoor dining closures mandated in Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots have so far resulted in:

  • Sales losses of as much as 80 per cent for full-service restaurants and more than 40 per cent for quick-service restaurants.
  • Tens of thousands of jobs lost across the province:
    • 12,000 in Ottawa
    • 33,000 in Toronto
    • 14,900 in Peel Region
    • 8,800 in York Region

Indoor dining closures in Halton and Durham regions could mean another 8,500 job losses.

Restaurants are key to Ontario’s COVID-19 recovery

“Restaurants and the many small and medium-sized businesses that make up Ontario’s foodservice sector are a critical load-bearing pillar of the province’s economy,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada.

“Without transparent transmission data and further government support, half of all independent restaurants are at risk of closing within a year. This would not only be a terrible loss for communities across the province, but the many other businesses that rely on a thriving foodservice sector for their survival.”

Before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, Ontario’s foodservice industry comprised approximately 38,000 establishments, contributing 4 per cent to Ontario’s GDP and serving more than 9 million customers every day.

Restaurants also support a wide variety of other businesses across the province, indirectly supporting more than 110,000 jobs and typically spending more than $13 billion per year on food and beverage purchases, playing a critical role for Ontario farmers and the agri-food sector.

Anyone interested in ensuring that restaurants receive the data they need to survive COVID-19 can send a letter to their MPP in support of the recommendations sent to Premier Ford: https://info.restaurantscanada.org/ontario-letter

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 480,000 people, providing the province’s number one source of first jobs and serving 9.1 million customers every day. Ontario’s foodservice industry lost more than 215,000 jobs by April and is on track to lose as much as $17.8 billion in annual sales compared to 2019 due to the impacts of COVID-19.


For more information, contact:

James Rilett
Vice President, Central Canada
Restaurants Canada
C: 416-738-9546

Roberto Sarjoo
Director, Marketing and Communications
Restaurants Canada
C: 416-389-7941

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

Marlee Wasser

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