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Restaurants Canada has presented the Premier Doug Ford with a $100 million tab to cover the wavering opening and closing costs for restaurants throughout the province.
Following the abrupt shutdown of the province last week, restaurants have been forced to close down dining service yet again, sparking deeper frustration amongst foodservice workers. In Toronto, outdoor dining had been reintroduced during lockdown to help restaurants start rebuilding their businesses.
Across Ontario, other regions close to Toronto had welcomed guests for indoor dining as well. These were all brought to a halt, leaving countless restaurants with an abundance of equipment and inventory that would no longer be needed immediately.
“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, vice president of Restaurants Canada (Central Canada).
In an open letter to the premier, Restaurants Canada and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association has called on Ford and the provincial government to pay a $100 million tab––the estimated cost to restaurants as a result of indecisive lockdowns and wavering restrictions.
The letter outlined some immediate actions that the government needs to take in order to remedy the outrage and harm they have caused the industry this past month. This includes urging them to reopen patios and outdoor dining as an ‘alternative to private gatherings’ as well as creating fair and effective health measures to ensure that all industries are impacted equally.
Additionally, they have called the government to financially support all restaurants in an attempt to ‘mitigate rising debt’ through a series of options. This includes making more funding available through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant program, a sector-specific program to cover opening and closing costs, extending the property tax and energy cost rebate program to all restaurants and immediately axing the 6 per cent markup restaurants have to pay the LCBO on alcohol products.
As the industry comes to yet another standstill, more and more restaurants have reached their breaking point. Countless restaurants, many of which are well-regarded spots in Toronto, have had to indefinitely close in response to the provincial government’s teetering lockdowns.
While there is no sufficient initiative in place that can help restaurants survive the pandemic at this point, Restaurants Canada and the ORHMA are hoping to meet with the premier to construct a plan of action that can help the industry and the province get back on track.