Although last month’s extension on Canada’s emergency wage and rent subsidies until September 25 was generally perceived as a step in the right direction for most businesses, with the hospitality industry still facing an uphill climb with no foreseeable end in sight, Restaurants Canada has asked the federal government to provide a sector-specific support package as a means to ensure its survival.
Statistics Canada recently reported that the country’s foodservice sector currently has 437,500 fewer people working in the industry than there were in February 2020, and since that same industry tends to bear the brunt of pandemic-related lockdowns and restrictions, Restaurants Canada believes that number is likely to increase.
“The vast majority of foodservice businesses have been operating at a loss or barely breaking even throughout the entire pandemic, with nearly half consistently losing money for more than a year,” said Olivier Bourbeau, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec. They have been counting on the rent and wage subsidies to be the bridge they need to stay alive until dining restrictions are lifted and they can truly start to recover without the help of emergency support.”
The support package Restaurants Canada is currently seeking includes an exemption from the scheduled scale-back of rent and wage subsidies until at least April 2022, the option for eligible restaurants to also apply for added funding through the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, and tax credits to defray costs of COVID-19 health and safety expenditures.
The organization believes that these measures along with partial forgiveness for government-backed loans and an extension of application deadlines for existing programs will be critical in ensuring the industry can stay afloat while returning almost half a million foodservice employees back to work in the coming months.
“If restaurants are forced to contend with less and less from the critical wage and rent subsidies before they’re able to operate without them, many will have to give up and close their businesses down for good. They just won’t have the working capital they need to make the transition from survival to revival,” said Bourbeau.