Statement in response to the ongoing protests in Ottawa

Published February 2, 2022

On Monday, Jan. 31 restaurants and other foodservice businesses across Ontario were given the green light to reopen for indoor dining after weeks of suffering under another round of lockdown — unfortunately for many Ottawa businesses their right to reopen has now been delayed by ongoing, disruptive protests.

Restaurant operators in Ottawa’s downtown core have been instructed to remain closed to avoid threatening behaviour from demonstrators, dashing their hopes of reopening and recovering from the devastating losses they’ve endured over the past month.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic started, 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 restaurants are now struggling to recover more than 50,000 jobs and at least $20 billion in lost revenue due to the ongoing economic and public health crisis.

The current protests in Ottawa are only adding to the unprecedented challenges of the city’s hardest-hit businesses, depriving restaurants of their freedom to welcome back their customers and adding to the massive debt they’ve been accumulating from lost revenue, lost inventory, and repeated reopening and rehiring costs.

The outcome has been continued harm to already struggling small business operators, tons of lost food and employees that are not able to come back to work.

Enough is enough. Ottawa’s local restaurants deserve the right to reopen their doors and bring in business. Restaurants Canada is calling on the protest organizers and public officials to let foodservice workers get back to their jobs and allow businesses to begin to recover from this unnecessary attack on their freedoms.

Marlee Wasser

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