TORONTO — The COVID-19 pandemic continues to devastate the restaurant industry, and as patio season draws to a close, operators expect more job losses and a significant increase in closures ahead. Throughout the pandemic, restaurant operators have quickly and effectively adapted to changing public health guidance in order to bring back staff to serve their communities safely, and they can be trusted to continue to do so as we head into the colder months.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, 800,000 foodservice workers were laid off or had their hours cut down to zero. While the vast majority of industries have been able to bring employees back to work and are hovering at just 1 to 10 per cent below pre-COVID-19 employment levels of February 2020, there continues to be a significant gap in the restaurant industry. Due to ongoing restrictions across the country, the restaurant industry is the hardest hit with employment 21 per cent below February 2020 levels. A recent Restaurant Canada survey found that roughly half of table-service restaurants expect to reduce their number of full and part-time employees over the next three to four months.
“The government has pledged to create 1 million jobs, with a focus on racialized Canadians, young people, and women who have been hit the hardest through the pandemic,” said Todd Barclay, President and CEO, Restaurants Canada. “Restaurants can play a significant role in feeding the recovery as 260,000 of the jobs still lost due to the pandemic are in our industry alone. Fifty-eight per cent of our industry being women and 31 per cent visible minorities, we can help support the government’s growth plans, but we need government help to get our industry moving.”
As restrictions have continued to evolve, restaurants have continued to invest time and money into safety equipment and procedures to ensure safe and enjoyable dining experiences for consumers. Eighty seven per cent of Canadians agree that restaurants are doing a good job of keeping customers safe. The health and safety of everyone we serve is always mission-critical to our industry, this was just as true now as it was before the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
“Our industry has lost significant revenues, incurred additional costs and is being targeted for closures, without the data being made public to support this claim,” said Barclay. “As cases may arise in certain areas, we have been asking authorities to target any restrictions and enforcement to the higher risk areas and not just punish our entire industry”.
“We are doing everything humanly possible to keep our customers and staff safe,” said Cindy Simpson, Executive Vice President, Imago Restaurants Inc. “While the irresponsibility of a few rogue operators has resulted in some closures, this doesn’t represent the industry as a whole and we can’t let these incidents bring down our industry”.
With tighter restrictions being proposed, additional closures will lead to not only increased job losses but a larger impact on the Canadian economy. Ninety two per cent of Canadians agree that restaurants are an important part of their community; as we support the restaurants that offer consumer’s spots to celebrate, spend time with loved ones, and make memories, we support communities, allowing them to thrive.
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, Canada’s foodservice sector was a $93 billion industry, directly employing 1.2 million people, providing Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serving 22 million customers across the country every day. The industry has since lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and could lose as much as $44.8 billion in sales in 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.
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