Last week’s abrupt move to shut down all restaurant dining so soon after easing restrictions has cost Ontario’s restaurant industry more than $100 million in reopening and closing costs alone.
In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association are calling for the following actions to reverse the devastating impacts of dining closures:
- For public health measures to be fair and effective, all industries must be impacted equally.
- Patio dining should remain available as an alternative to private gatherings, as safe options for enjoying outdoor activities are important for people’s mental health.
All restaurants should be supported financially to mitigate rising debt in the following ways:
- Further funding through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program and an amendment to the rules to ensure every foodservice establishment is able to receive funding.
- A sector-specific program for covering reopening/closure costs such as wasted inventory, staffing costs, patio setup/takedown, etc.
- An expansion of the property tax and energy cost rebate programs to include all foodservice businesses that have been impacted by Red-Control level restrictions.
- An immediate end to the 6% markup that restaurants pay to buy alcohol from the LCBO.
“Our Ontario members have told us they lose about $10,000 every time one of their establishments is suddenly ordered to shut down dining services,” said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Central Canada. “For a restaurant that’s been through three lockdowns, the province’s $20,000 small business grant hardly covers their closing and reopening costs, let alone compensation for revenue lost while shut down.”
Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association have asked Premier Ford for the opportunity to meet as soon as possible to lay the groundwork for a sector-specific recovery plan.