As the National Assembly session draws to a close, Restaurants Canada wishes to recognize the work accomplished by parliamentarians. Several major bills were passed a few days ago and we would like to share our thoughts on the gains made during this session.
Adoption of Bill 170 (modernize alcohol laws)
With this Bill. Québec enters the 21st century in the area of alcohol management. After decades of calls for major reforms, the legislation tabled by Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux and adopted by parliamentarians is a giant step in the right direction. We also appreciate all the work done on this issue by the MNA from Jean-Lesage, André Drolet, who had been a relentless champion for small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
Following the price reduction and streamlining of liquor licences obtained in June 2017, the next step was legislative reform, and we are happy to say that we have been well served on that score.
Some of the key actions for restaurants include the ability to consume alcohol without ordering a meal, extended terrace hours for minors accompanied by adults, an expansion of the permit classes and a promise to find an alternative to stamping.
“These advances mean a lot for our industry. We are glad that the government has removed barriers and listened to our concerns,” said David Lefebvre, Vice President, Federal and Québec for Restaurants Canada
Adoption of Bill 176 (modernize labour standards)
In the area of labour standards, Restaurants Canada would like to congratulate Dominique Vien, the Minister responsible for Labour, for never getting discouraged and for listening to Québec society as a whole. Although the new Act mostly benefits workers, our industry also has cause for rejoicing.
Positive aspects of this Act include the possibility of spreading working hours over several weeks, important accommodations for seasonal workers and the introduction of anti-harassment standards in the workplace. In addition, Québec made the right decision by maintaining its minimum wage calculation system. By not heeding the siren call of massive increases, Québec’s approach is more reasonable than that of other provinces and more in keeping with our economic and business reality.
The government has also announced an automatic revision of the Act every seven years. This means that the modernization of standards will be progressive and can be adjusted along the way. This is good news for us. We understand that certain measures put in place could be reviewed; Restaurants Canada will remain vigilant and will continue to advocate for a fair balance of power between employers and employees in the province’s restaurant industry.
March 2018 budget
Our end-of-session review would not be complete without a word on Québec’s 2018-2019 budget. Not only did the government lower the tax rate for SMEs, but it also met our main demand for a reduction in payroll taxes. This is a great victory for our industry. Together these two measures will save Quebec SMEs $2.2 billion over five years.
“For foodservice establishments, a reduction in payroll costs is even more important than a tax cut, as it impacts all businesses. With a pre-tax profit margin of only 4.2%, restaurant operators are very pleased with this breath of fresh air,” noted Lefebvre.
In the end, Québec’s latest budget met five of Restaurants Canada’s seven demands, including full deductibility of the increase in Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) contributions as well as more money to promote tourism.
Adoption of Bill 157 (cannabis)
Restaurants Canada also recognizes the government’s courage in passing the Bill on cannabis. While information on the subject is sometimes vague and contradictory, Québec has shown leadership in preparing for the impending legalization of this product by the federal government.
Made-in Québec solutions
And finally, Restaurants Canada wishes to acknowledge the constructive contribution of the three opposition parties during this parliamentary session, and the collegiality in which the work was accomplished. The Parti Québécois, the Coalition Avenir Québec and Québec Solidaire have all been attentive to our questions and suggestions. We believe this bodes well for discussions on many of the social and economic issues that will remain to be debated after the next election.
The fact that some bills that matter to us were adopted unanimously – on alcohol and labour standards in particular – shows that Quebec democracy is alive and well and able to take the province’s various economic and social trends into account.
Restaurants Canada (formerly CRFA) is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant community. Canada’s restaurant industry is an $84 billion industry, directly employs 1.2 million Canadians, is the number one source of first jobs and serves 22 million customers every day.