With the restrictions still in place for many parts of the country, including a province-wide lockdown that appears likely to be extended, restaurants continue to suffer.
Restaurants Canada is calling on a sector-specific support package to help recover the more than 400,000 jobs in the foodservice industry that have been lost since the onset of the pandemic—including 135,100 in Ontario.
According to a recent report from Statistics Canada found that 70.9 per cent of the 503,000 jobs that have been lost to the pandemic and yet to return are in the foodservice industry.
“Restaurants are key to feeding Ontario’s recovery and bringing back jobs, but first they need to survive,” James Rilett, vice president of Central Canada for Restaurants Canada, said in a news release.
“If subsidies are scaled back too soon, they won’t have the working capital they need to transition from survival to revival,” he continued.
Additionally, according to the latest data from Restaurants Canada, 80 per cent of restaurants have been operating at a loss or barely scraping by throughout the entire pandemic, and 45 per cent have consistently lost money for over a year.
Further, 70 per cent of restaurateurs who have been losing money said they won’t be able to return to profitability for at least a year.
In order to prevent the closure of more businesses, and the loss of more jobs, Restaurants Canada is calling for a support package that includes:
- An exemption from the scheduled scale-back 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.
- The option for any restaurants eligible for the wage subsidy to also apply for added funding through the Canada Recovery Hiring Program.
- Partial forgiveness for all government-backed loans and an extension of application deadlines for existing programs.
- Tax credits to defray costs of COVID-19 health and safety expenditures.
“If restaurants are forced to contend with less and less from the critical wage and rent subsidies before they’re able to operate without them, many will have to give up and close their businesses down for good. They just won’t have the working capital they need to make the transition from survival to revival,” Rilett said.