Canadian Chamber of Commerce: Restaurant Industry Needs to be Rescued

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Business groups across Canada are calling on the government to help avoid a disaster during the prolonged restaurant and food service recovery.

Canadian Chamber of Commerce vice president of policy Trevin Stratton says revenues have dropped by as much as 70 per cent due to the pandemic, resulting in more than 800,000 lost jobs across the country.

Chambers and leaders in the food service industry are banding together sending letters to political leaders at all levels warning of imminent failure if help isn't provided.

"When we're talking about the sectors that were hardest hit, the food services sector is really on the front lines because it's a sector that, in a lot of ways, requires a physical presence for those business models to work,” he says. “So it's been very hard hit."

According to Stratton, restaurants are struggling and many will not make it.

"Keep in mind that this is an industry that has razor thin profit margins. We're looking at profit margins of 6 per cent to 8 per cent,” he says. “So if they're taking a 50 per cent hit on capacity, it's really impacting their business model and their way forward."

Aside from providing employment, Stratton says restaurants play an important role in the community.

"I think a number of Canadians see restaurants as almost cornerstones of our communities,” he says. “They're meeting places for business and to meet friends. So it's going to be very important as a part of recovery and as a part of the social and community recovery too to make sure that they remain resilient."

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant industry employed 1.2-million Canadians earning $30-billion in wages and benefits.

 

— With files form AM800's Patty Handysides