Canadian restaurants want wage subsidies to remain in place
July 12, 2020, Toronto, Ont. – Restaurants Canada is urging reforms to the federal wage subsidy to better help foodservice businesses rehire workers as they continue to reopen and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
At least 400,000 people previously employed in the Canadian foodservice sector are still out of work, according to the results of the latest labour force survey from Statistics Canada. This is still half of the jobs that the sector has lost since the start of the pandemic and a third of the foodservice industry’s workforce still not recovered.
“Reforms to the federal wage subsidy are urgently needed to help foodservice businesses bring more Canadians back to work amid ongoing restrictions,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada vice president, federal and Quebec. “Forty-four per cent of restaurant operators who responded to our latest survey said they did not apply for the subsidy for at least one of their establishments because it would not meet the requirements.”
Restaurants and other foodservice businesses are the fourth-largest source of private sector jobs in Canada. The foodservice industry was among the first and hardest hit by the impacts of COVID-19, and will likely be among the slowest to return to profitability.
Restaurants Canada is continuing to recommend changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program to ensure foodservice businesses can bring more Canadians back to work as they continue to reopen and recover.
The organization wants government to keep the subsidy available for as long as restrictions are in place. Instead of the 75-per-cent wage subsidy suddenly dropping to zero, Restaurants Canada says it should be reduced gradually as businesses get closer to manageable levels of revenue variance while operating under ongoing restrictions.
The organization also maintains that the 30-per-cent revenue decline threshold should be scaled to support restaurants in their recovery, instead of serving as a disincentive to improving sales at the risk of losing access to the subsidy while businesses are still operating at a loss.
Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. The industry lost more than 800,000 jobs by April and is on track to lose as much as $44.8 billion in annual sales compared to 2019 due to the impacts of COVID-19.