Challenges facing the food service industry in the media spotlight following joint letter

Following the news release and joint letter published by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and 20 other business groups (including Restaurants Canada, Molson Coors, and numerous provincial/territorial chambers and boards of trade) on July 20, there has been significant media coverage of the dire situation the food services industry finds itself in.

Above, watch television coverage from Global News, reporting on the joint letter and challenges the industry is facing.

Pre-COVID, the positive impact of our restaurants on Canadians was deeply felt. The industry directly created one out of every 15 jobs (1.2 million Canadians), served 22 million meals per day to Canadians, operated close to 100,000 establishments, paid Canadians $30 billion of wages and benefits, and contributed $31 billion annually to Canada’s GDP.

Today, the industry is untenable as revenues are off by between 60 and 70 percent amid continued social distancing rules while the industry must continue to pay nearly full pre-COVID level costs. No business can continue to run at a loss indefinitely and 800,000 jobs have been lost in the industry.

“The scale of hardship Canadians in the food services industry have already experienced is significant,” said Canadian Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Perrin Beatty. “Just as our restaurants have always been there for Canadians for important moments in our lives, now we need to be here for them.”

Explore some of the media coverage:

The joint letter calls for urgent action across all levels of government.

Federal

  • Implement the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) improvements and continue to create incentives for Canadians to return to work.
  • Eliminate the automatic annual federal excise tax increase on beer, wine, and spirits.
  • Start to encourage Canadians to return to pre-COVID activities while observing safety measures, such as masks.

Joint Federal-Provincial/Territorial

  • Extend the CECRA program, remove parent company revenue eligibility cap (removing the cap would prevent franchisees from falling through the cracks), and explore a means to substantially increase program subscription.

Provincial/Territorial

  • Implement and monitor a commercial eviction moratorium.
  • Expand liquor licencing, or make permanent COVID-related licencing changes, to allow more restaurants to offer alcohol sales (including for take-out).

Municipal

  • Reduction or deferral of property taxes, patio fees, utility fees, and other fees as relevant.
  • Ease regulatory burdens, which assist the industry without impacting government budgets.