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Ontario’s restaurants will need support to survive indoor dining closures

Restaurants Canada anticipates foodservice sales losses will result in tens of thousands of lost jobs that will require government help to recover.

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TORONTO (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Restaurants Canada anticipates that closing indoor dining in Ontario’s COVID-19 hot spots will result in tens of thousands of lost jobs that will require government help to recover.

“Our sector was one of the first to suffer the impacts of this crisis and continues to be among the hardest hit,” said Restaurants Canada President and CEO Todd Barclay. “Going back to this level of shutdown will be a huge blow. Restaurants deserve to see the data driving this decision and will need immediate emergency assistance so they can continue contributing to the social and economic fabric of the communities they serve.”

Indoor dining closures will cost Ontario in restaurant sales and jobs

Restaurants Canada estimates that the indoor dining closures coming into effect at midnight tonight will result in:

Sales losses of as much as 80 per cent for full-service restaurants and more than 40 per cent for quick-service restaurants.
Tens of thousands of jobs lost across the province:
12,000 in Ottawa
33,000 in Toronto
14,900 in Peel Region

Recommendations for emergency support

“Ontario’s restaurants have made major investments in health and safety equipment and training so that they could continue serving their communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada. “They are now being asked to severely restrict their operations to help the province contain rising community spread. Doing so will come at a steep economic cost for communities impacted by these restrictions if all levels of government don’t step up with emergency assistance to help them pull through.”

Restaurants Canada is calling for the following immediate support measures from all levels of government:

Federal Level

Expansion of the newly unveiled rent assistance program to ensure businesses are supported for as long as they are mandated to operate under severely limiting restrictions due to COVID-19.
An amendment to allow management positions to qualify for funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.
A mechanism to force insurance companies to honour business interruption claims and pressure to rein in skyrocketing rates.

Provincial Level

An emergency assistance program similar to the Quebec compensation system for restaurants forced to close in targeted areas.
A concerted effort to work with the federal government and Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario to restrain unmanageable insurance rates and ensure business interruption claims are honoured.
Stronger enforcement of penalties for flagrant COVID-19 restriction rule breakers by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario.

Municipal Level

Access to data on effectiveness of COVID-19 containment efforts among foodservice sector so the industry can address areas for improvement.

A “seal of approval” inspection program to clearly differentiate violators from responsible restaurant operators and improve consumer confidence.

Consultation with industry to streamline contact tracing with existing or developing technology.

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, Ontario’s foodservice sector was a $37 billion industry, directly employing more than 480,000 people, providing the province’s number one source of first jobs and serving 9.1 million customers every day. Ontario’s foodservice industry lost more than 215,000 jobs by April and is on track to lose as much as $17.8 billion in annual sales compared to 2019 due to the impacts of COVID-19.

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