Restaurants Canada and Alberta’s struggling hospitality industry were hoping that Alberta’s budget would provide some relief for businesses. Restaurants have been hit hard by same-store sales declines, due to the economic downturn and significant policy-mandated cost increases (e.g. ongoing aggressive minimum wage increases, a new carbon tax). Over the past year, commercial foodservice industry employment has fallen by 3.8%, which means 4,700 fewer jobs for Albertans.
“There is nothing in the budget to help one of Alberta’s largest job creators reverse a significant decline in industry employment and keep small restaurant businesses viable,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada’s Vice President, Western Canada.
Instead the Alberta government delivered another large $10.3-billion-deficit budget on top of last year’s $10.8-billion deficit.
“The only good news in the budget is no new tax increases,” said von Schellwitz.
Restaurants Canada members in Alberta anticipate even more layoffs and reduced hours in 2017, given another $1.40 increase in the minimum wage in October. The potential for even more labour cost increases from the current Labour and Employment Standards reviews makes matters worse.
Despite the loss of nearly 5,000 jobs in the past year, Alberta’s $11-billion restaurant industry is still one of the largest private sector employers in the province directly employing close to 149,00 Albertans in every community across the province.
Restaurants Canada is one of Canada’s largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada’s restaurant industry generates $80 billion annually in economic activity and employs more than one million people in communities across the country.