When we mark a milestone or a special event, we go to a restaurant and the staff becomes part of the celebration. When we’re feeling down, we seek out the cheerful vibes of our favourite bar & grill, or the comforting quiet of a booth in a dimly lit cafe. When we’re homesick, there’s a restaurant that can make it like they do back home, no matter where in the world that may be.
Like family, restaurants know exactly what you need, even when you don’t. That daily special that sounds just right, or a dessert you can’t say no to. (“But, bring two spoons!”)
Finding a familiar chain when you’re far from home is like visiting family that moved away. And discovering someplace new is like being introduced to family you never knew you had.
Imagining life without restaurants is like imagining life without family – liveable, but oh, so lonely.
01 Take Action
Canada’s hard-hit restaurants deserve a plan to preserve their livelihoods, restore pandemic job losses and keep contributing to vibrant communities across the country.
We asked restaurateurs what government support they need to remain in the picture.
Here’s what they told us…
Working together with Restaurants Canada, the federal government can help foodservice businesses continue playing an integral part of the social and economic fabric of our communities.
Below are recommendations for measures in key areas where restaurants continue to require government support to successfully transition from survival to revival and keep feeding Canada’s COVID-19 recovery.
Restaurant Survival Support
As Canada’s hardest-hit industry, restaurants continue to need sector-specific support to survive the ongoing pandemic, 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.
Restaurant Relaunch Measures
To rebuild public confidence in dining out and help the hard-hit foodservice sector return to pre-pandemic levels of operations, restaurants need the following forms of support from the federal government:
- An expansion of the current “meals and expenses” business tax credit from 50% to its original 100%.
- A national dining rebate program allowing Canadians to save 50% when they eat at restaurants, as well as a culinary tourism incentive encouraging Canadians to support local foodservice businesses while travelling across the country.
To help the restaurant sector overcome pre-existing labour shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, a National Foodservice Labour Development Strategy is needed, including measures such as:
- Support for the expansion of impactful labour pilot programs, such as the Atlantic Immigration Program and Alberta Foodservice Labour Connections.
- An increase in federal funding to ensure efficient and effective processing of immigration applications by reducing wait times, administrative burdens, and increasing information-sharing between sponsors.
- An extension of work visas for a full year and suspension of fees until 2022.
- The addition of a foodservice stream into the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to address seasonal and long-term labour shortages, as well as a redesign of the national occupational classification structure to broaden the categories of positions that foodservice employers can use the TFWP to help fill, as well as a lower administrative burden on small businesses who use the TFWP.
A “Do No Harm” Approach to Taxes & Red Tape
To create the best possible conditions for recovery after 18+ months of either losing money or barely breaking even, foodservice operations need government to take a “do no harm” approach with taxes and regulations, including:
- A whole-of-society approach to single-use items, built on evidence-based policies and consistent standards across jurisdictions.
- A freeze on any further excise duty increases on beer, wine or spirits.
- A cap on credit/debit card interchange fees and the removal of merchant fees from the tax portion of restaurant bills.
- Indexation of the passive investment income threshold to support restaurateurs making investments to safeguard or grow their operations.
Help us keep restaurants in the picture!
While Canada’s restaurant operators are innovative and resilient, many establishments are still at risk of closing down in the face of crushing debt.
Here are 5 easy ways you can take action to help save your local restaurants:
Share our call for action
When it comes to family, you never have to feel bad asking for help when you need it. Spread the word that our restaurant family needs us – share the cause on social media, and ask others to take a few moments to learn how they can help us keep restaurants in the picture.
Show us what restaurants mean to you
Share your favourite restaurant memories from your social feed, camera roll, scrapbooks, and albums with us, and we’ll share it with the nation so everyone gets the picture – restaurants are family.
Simply use the hashtag #RestaurantsAreFamily and tag the restaurant.
In communities across Canada, restaurants play an essential role. They drive our economy by creating jobs for all skill-levels, and supporting our farmers and a vast network of suppliers and producers. Just as importantly, restaurants bring character to neighbourhoods by providing a warm place for people to gather, fulfilling a human need for connection. We need that, now more than ever.
Restaurant operators and their teams represent the diverse makeup of Canada, not only in the meals they create but also in the people that serve them. Read their stories and learn why when restaurants thrive, so do the communities they call home.
03 For Restaurants
Tell Us Your Story
Participate in our Restaurant Survival Coalition by telling us your story. Help us amplify voices in the foodservice community by submitting a video telling us how the pandemic has impacted your business and life.