As jurisdictions across the country begin to gradually ease back social distancing restrictions, Canadians who are looking forward to revisiting their favourite food and drink businesses may be looking at a longer wait than expected.
And according to a recent Canada-wide survey conducted by Restaurants Canada, almost 70 per cent of Canadian hospitality business owners are “very worried” that the wait to reopen may never end.
Although the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program has provided some restaurants with relief, the program requires--but doesn’t enforce--compliance from landlords, which can further complicate the struggle for survival.
Fourteen per cent of independent restaurants haven’t been able to pay rent for April and nearly 20 per cent aren’t able to pay rent for May. So far, at least 20 per cent of independent restaurant operators are dealing with a landlord who is not willing to provide rent relief, either through the CECRA program or otherwise.
In an effort to ensure the viability of restaurant reopenings, Restaurants Canada is calling on provincial governments to provide food and drink business owners additional aid by implementing commercial tenant protections and rent relief, helping with cash flow and rising debt levels, and assisting with labour costs.
“The resiliency of our industry won’t be enough to ensure Ontario’s 38,000 restaurants remain viable in the face of insufficient cash flow and insurmountable debt,” said James Rilett, vice president of Restaurants Canada, Central Canada. “The province needs to come to the table with a package of solutions to help these mostly small- and medium-sized businesses stay afloat as they ramp up their operations.”