Restaurants Canada welcomes the recently released report by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) entitled, Responding To The Challenges Of Our Time, which brought forth several recommendations that aim to address some of the biggest challenges the country’s foodservice sector has been facing as the industry looks to recover post-pandemic.
In the final report published by FINA in advance of Canada’s 2023 Federal Budget tabling set for March 28, the Standing Committee on Finance appears to have alignment with Restaurants Canada’s recommendations in recent Federal Pre-Budget Submission, to increase temporary support measures for small businesses, and specifically Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) borrowers. The committee’s recommendation 148 to “Increase the forgivable portion of the Canadian Emergency Business Account loan to at least 50 per cent and extend the repayment deadline for an additional year” is a positive step towards making repayment possible and more palatable as 43 per cent of the foodservice sector continues to operate at a loss or break even.
“FINA made some positive recommendations that our members and the foodservice industry as a whole will greatly benefit from if implemented by the federal government,” said Olivier Bourbeau, Vice President of Federal & Québec Affairs, Restaurants Canada.
The standing committee’s recommendation 28 also targeted Restaurants Canada’s call to reduce operational costs for licensed bars and restaurants by addressing the looming 6.3 per cent increase on the federal alcohol excise tax. FINA’s recommendation suggests the nation “Freeze federal beer, wine and spirit excise duties at 2022 rates for fiscal years 2023 and 2024, and until inflation returns to the Bank of Canada’s 1% to 3% target range.”
“The reality is our sector is struggling, and the only way to ensure we don’t lose more businesses to debt, red tape and inflation is to have Minister Freeland support and implement these recommendations. We all want to move past the pandemic; however, we have an entire sector that is stuck in that era due to the debt it brought with it,” added Bourbeau.
The foodservice sector emerged from the pandemic as one of the hardest hit financially, with many owners forced to take on significant debt to keep their doors open. The industry is also struggling with several post-pandemic operational challenges like inflation, labour shortages and supply chain hurdles – all of which significantly impact these businesses’ profitability. The foodservice industry has lost more than 13,000 restaurants since the beginning of covid. Today, one in four independent table-service restaurants say their business is not expected to recover, and one in five private-sector job vacancies are in the foodservice industry.
The government’s support is more critical than ever to ensure our industry can realistically relaunch, continue to employ 1.2 million Canadians, keep 98,000 businesses alive, and feed Canada’s recovery.
Restaurants Canada looks forward to its ongoing collaboration with the federal government to ensure foodservice remains an active part of the nation’s economy.