“Save BC Restaurants” — New campaign by BCRFA, Restaurants Canada calls for policy change to help struggling sector

Published January 23, 2024

VANCOUVER, BC — Today, the British Columbia Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA) and Restaurants Canada launched a new campaign, ‘Save BC Restaurants’, aimed at raising awareness of the challenges facing BC restaurants and foodservice vendors.

“The last few years have been incredibly tough on restaurants in British Columbia,” said Ian Tostenson, CEO of the BCRFA. “Pandemic debt, skyrocketing inflation, labour shortages, cost pressures. Many of these businesses are holding on by the skin of their teeth.”

British Columbia is home to over 15,000 restaurants and foodservice vendors, employing over 185,000 workers across the province. The $18 billion in annual sales brought in by those businesses play a key role in supporting BC workers, families, and vital industries such as agriculture, transportation, and tourism.

“Restaurants are at the heart of every community in this province,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President for Restaurants Canada. “We’re hopeful that community leaders across the province will recognize the urgency of the situation at-hand.”

At the heart of the campaign is the ‘Unhappy Hour’ menu, a document listing many shocking statistics about the current state of BC’s restaurant sector. Key stats include the fact that over 50% of foodservice and hospitality businesses are currently unprofitable and restaurant bankruptcies have increased by 48% over the last ten months.

“If we don’t act quickly, a lot of these places could close down. People could lose their livelihoods,” continued Tostenson. “The loss of a longtime restaurant can be devastating for the communities, families, and workers that have come to depend on them.”

In addition to highlighting concerns, the campaign is also outlining steps that can be taken by municipal and provincial governments, as listed in the menu’s “Takeaway” section. Policy suggestions range from streamlining approvals and harmonizing liquor laws to cost offsets and relief programs.

“We feel that it’s important to be constructive rather than just critical. It’s easy to point out the problems, we want to offer solutions,” concluded von Schellwitz. “With fair and sensible policy change, government can play a key role in turning the tables and saving BC restaurants.”

Tostensen says the ‘Unhappy Hour’ menu will be mailed to elected officials across the province.

BCRFA and Restaurants Canada will be hosting a virtual town hall meeting with restaurants and elected officials tomorrow (Wednesday, January 24th). Media are welcome to attend, to register for the town hall, please click here.

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Media Contact

Taylor Verrall

250-508-3067 // tverrall@headwatersgroup.ca

Restaurants Canada Digital

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