Canada’s restaurants need a national working group to bring back 260,000 jobs

Published December 8, 2020

As evolving restrictions continue to stifle foodservice sales and add to job losses, Restaurants Canada is calling for a national working group to pave the way for the industry’s revival.

TORONTO — With foodservice businesses continuing to face devastating restrictions, Restaurants Canada is calling for a national working group to lay the groundwork for the industry’s revival in 2021.

“Our members are seeking a new year’s resolution from government, not only to support their survival but our industry’s vital role building back a stronger, more resilient Canada,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Restaurants Canada is calling for a national working group to pave the way for the foodservice sector’s revival, building on the commitment in the federal government’s 2020 Fall Economic Statement to provide targeted, sector-specific support to restaurants and other hardest hit businesses.”

Half of restaurants at risk of closing in six months

According to the latest survey from Restaurants Canada:

  • Eight out of 10 restaurants are either losing money or barely scraping by.
    • 65% are continuing to operate at a loss, while 19% are just breaking even.
    • 63% of foodservice businesses that are losing money expect to take at least a year to return to profitability.
  • 48% of single-unit foodservice operators expect to permanently close their establishment within six months if conditions don’t improve, while 56% of multi-unit operators said they expect to close at least one of their locations within the same time period.

Further foodservice job losses recorded for second month in a row

According to the latest Labour Force Survey from Statistics Canada, the foodservice sector lost 72,000 jobs in October and November, after recovering 426,900 jobs from May to September.

This leaves the industry more than 260,000 jobs short of where it was in February. This is still 21% of the restaurant workforce not yet recovered. No other industry continues to face this level of shortfall.

Recommended areas of focus for a national working group

Restaurants Canada recommends setting up a national working group to focus on the following key areas in support of the foodservice sector’s revival:

  • Mechanisms for timely consultation on COVID-19 related aid measures, to ensure businesses impacted by significant restrictions are provided sufficient, efficient and effective aid throughout the ongoing economic and public health crisis.
  • Joint communications materials and campaigns to:
    • Reassure Canadians that restaurants provide safe and reliable meal options; and
    • Promote takeout and delivery to show support for struggling entrepreneurs, restaurant staff and local food suppliers.
  • Coordinated action on key issues of concern for foodservice businesses to develop and implement solutions over the short, medium and long term through innovative, multi-stakeholder discussions to ensure restaurant operators are set up for success in the post-pandemic economic environment.

Everyone interested in joining the call for a dedicated working group to help restaurants support Canada’s economic recovery can send a letter to their Member of Parliament at:

About the Restaurants Canada survey

Conclusions cited above are based on responses to a Restaurants Canada survey conducted between Nov. 26 and Dec. 4, 2020. Restaurants Canada received a total of 511 completed surveys from foodservice operators across Canada, representing 3,000 locations (as many respondents belong to multi-unit businesses). Canada’s commercial foodservice industry is made up of 97,500 establishments, including full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, caterers and drinking places.

About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canada’s foodservice sector was a $93 billion industry, directly employing 1.2 million people, providing Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serving 22 million customers across the country every day. The industry has since lost hundreds of thousands of jobs and could lose as much as $31 billion in sales in 2020 due to the impacts of COVID-19.


For more information, contact:

Roberto Sarjoo
Director, Marketing and Communications
Restaurants Canada
C: 416-389-7941

Marlee Wasser
Manager, Communications and Stakeholder Relations
Restaurants Canada
T: 416-649-4254
Toll-free: 1-800-387-5649 ext. 4254

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