Restaurants Canada ready to work with new federal government

Published November 20, 2019

Having secured enough seats during the federal election on Oct. 21 to form a minority government, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his new federal cabinet of 36 ministers were sworn in today during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

(RELATED: Check out our post-election recap for a summary of the results. To find the member of Parliament elected in your riding, scroll down to the “Find my riding” section of this interactive web page from the CBC.)

Restaurants Canada has released a statement welcoming the newly sworn in ministers, and the opportunity that a minority government provides for seeking consensus-based solutions supported by a majority of Canadians.

Below are members from the newly unveiled federal cabinet with portfolios of particular interest to the foodservice community:

  • Chrystia Freeland — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Bill Morneau — Minister of Finance
  • Marie-Claude Bibeau — Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
  • Mona Fortier — Minister of Middle-Class Prosperity and Associate Minister of Finance
  • Patty Hajdu — Minister of Health
  • Melanie Joly — Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages
  • Marco Mendicino — Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  • Mary Ng — Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade
  • Carla Qualtrough — Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Accessibility
  • Filomena Tassi — Minister of Labour
  • Jonathan Wilkinson — Minister of Environment and Climate Change

You can read their full bios on the Government of Canada’s official website.

Restaurants Canada will be setting up meetings with these ministers to continue building on work in progress to address key challenges for our industry.

Key issues for foodservice

Restaurants Canada is calling on the federal government to help foodservice and hospitality businesses continue nourishing our nation by working together toward the following objectives:

  • A national labour force development strategy. Persistent labour shortages put a damper on investment and growth and place existing businesses at risk if they can’t be staffed. A national strategy is needed, recognizing the critical role of foodservice as one of Canada’s largest employers, the leading source of first-time jobs for youth and a key contributor to every community across the country.
  • A reduction in the tax burden and fees on small businesses. Foodservice is comprised primarily of small-to-medium-sized business with an average pre-tax profit margin of less than 5 per cent. Tax rules need to take into account the impact of inflation and price increases on the burden that these businesses bear. For instance, the $50,000 threshold that was recently introduced for passive investment income should increase every year, in line with inflation. Foodservice businesses would also welcome more fairness on fees that place undue strain on their operations; for instance, the interchange fees that debit and credit card issuers collect, which are often larger than the profit a restaurant operator makes on a meal.
  • The elimination of interprovincial trade barriers and a more level playing field for all types of foodservice operations. Continued leadership is needed at the federal level to encourage the provinces to take down trade barriers so that bars and restaurants can more easily offer their patrons products from across the country. Continued pressure on the provinces is also needed to raise the bar for licensed foodservice establishments, as Canada’s beverage alcohol policies currently place many licensed establishments at a competitive disadvantage. A full repeal of the automatic annual escalator on alcohol excise duties would also provide welcome relief for Canadian restaurants and their patrons, as the amount of tax collected on liquor in Canada is already among the highest in the world.
  • Evidence-based policies and national standards on single-use items. A whole-of-society approach is needed, recognizing the need for: 1) consumer education; 2) reasonable timelines for alternative innovations to enter the market; and 3) recycling, composting and waste management standards that successfully facilitate diversion from landfill and avoid inefficiencies resulting from patchwork solutions.
  • Continued emphasis on foodservice as part of our national tourism strategy. Foodservice is not only the number 1 source of tourism jobs, our industry is an integral part of every Canadian hospitality experience. Restaurants Canada looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government, through the framework of the recently unveiled national tourism strategy, to ensure that our industry’s unique strengths are leveraged and our challenges are addressed as part of efforts to boost Canadian tourism.

If you have any questions or would like more information, you can get in touch with David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec, at DLefebvre@restaurantscanada.org.

Marlee Wasser

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