Restaurants Canada is calling for more sector-specific support to make up for the lost year that Ontario foodservice businesses have suffered under the world’s longest lockdown.
Restaurants Canada welcomes today’s announcement from the Government of Ontario to move to Step One of the province’s Roadmap to Reopen on June 11, allowing patios to reopen.
However, further support is still critically needed to make up for the lost year that Ontario’s foodservice businesses have suffered under repeated lockdowns.
Half of all restaurants have been operating at a loss for more than a year now and are at risk of closure; if federal subsidies are scaled back too soon, and if provincial support isn’t increased, they won’t be able to continue paying staff and suppliers.
By the time Ontario’s restaurants are allowed to reopen on June 11:
- Most of the province’s dining rooms will have been closed for more than 365 days. (381 days in Toronto, home of the world’s longest lockdown.)
- Most of Ontario’s restaurants were allowed to operate patio dining for just 95 days throughout more than a year under lockdown. (Restaurants in Toronto will have been completely shut down for a total of 286 days without the option to even serve customers on patios, despite the significantly lower risk of COVID-19 transmission in outdoor settings.)
For a restaurant that’s been through three lockdowns, the province’s small business grant hardly covers losses from repeated closing and reopening costs, let alone compensation for significantly reduced revenue while shut down. Ontario’s foodservice businesses require further funding and sector-specific support to provide the bridge they need to survive until they are allowed to fully reopen once and for all.
To ensure that half of Ontario’s foodservice operations aren’t forced to close in the face of insurmountable debt, Restaurants Canada is continuing to call on the provincial government to step up with the following measures:
- Further funding through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program and an amendment to the rules to ensure every foodservice establishment is able to receive funding (even those under the same ownership).
- A sector-specific program for covering reopening/closure costs such as wasted inventory, staffing costs, patio setup/takedown, etc.
- An expansion of the property tax and energy cost rebate programs to include all foodservice businesses that have been impacted by Red-Control level restrictions.
- An immediate end to the 6% liquor markup that restaurants pay to buy alcohol from the LCBO.
Restaurants Canada is also continuing to advocate for the federal government to provide our hardest-hit sector with a Restaurant Survival Support Package, including:
- An exemption from the scheduled phase-out of the rent and wage subsidies for the highly affected foodservice sector, and an extension of these vital programs for restaurants until at least April 2022. This will be necessary, as Restaurants Canada survey data has consistently revealed that restaurant operators expect they’ll need at least a year to return to profitability once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
- The option for any restaurants eligible for the wage subsidy to be able to apply for added funding through the Canada Recovery Hiring Program so that they can hire new workers in addition to keeping the ones they already have on payroll.
- Partial forgiveness for all government-backed loans. Currently loan forgiveness is only available through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). Restaurants Canada would like to see this as well for the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) and any other loan program that the government introduces to help businesses recover from the pandemic.
- Tax credits to defray the exorbitant costs incurred from COVID-19 health and safety expenditures.
Questions or Concerns?
Please do not hesitate to reach out to James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada at: firstname.lastname@example.org