Edmonton’s hospitality sector calling on province for more help

An empty restaurant dining room, closed due to COVID-19. (CTV News Edmonton)

Cartago is one of the many Edmonton restaurants feeling the pressure of provincial measures to fight the spread of COVID-19.

“We’re 100% closed, so generating zero revenue,” said restaurant owner Katy Ingraham.

While the province has announced numerous measures to help struggling employers and employees during the pandemic, Ingraham says many of them are prolonging problems, instead of providing relief.

Shortly after restaurants were forced to close their dining rooms, Ingraham helped in launching a website on behalf of Edmonton’s Independent Hospitality Community.

The website outlines some recommendations the group would like to see the provincial government act on.

The biggest concern, Ingraham said, is the need for a rent freeze, instead of payment deferral.

“That’s not really relief,” Ingraham said. “That’s just delaying a bill until three months from now when we will basically be back to basic operations.”

Another of the requests outlined was for longer temporary layoff measures, which the province announced on Monday.

Ingraham said it’s encouraging, adding the province has been supportive in discussions on how to help the industry and help businesses keep the lights on.

“It has been positive in that there is help coming and that the information we’re giving them is helpful because now they know what the specific needs are,” Ingraham said.

The city said it’s also doing its best to support its hospitality sector, though it says the needs outlined on the website fall under the jurisdiction of the federal and provincial governments, as well as banks and lenders.

Ingraham said while she’s confident help from the province is on the way, it needs to be in a timely fashion.

“Regardless of how badly they want to get the support to us the actual meat and potatoes of how they are going to get it to us is another story and that’s the hurdle we’re trying to overcome at this moment,” she said.

The website has garnered a lot of support so far, according to Ingraham, and she hopes it brings a sense of urgency to the government, in order to ensure these closures remain temporary.