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Survey shows 800,000 Canadian foodservice jobs have been lost


April 3, 2020, Toronto, Ont. – Restaurants Canada estimates that 800,000 foodservice jobs have already been lost nationwide due to COVID-19 and might not return if current conditions continue.

With restaurants now struggling to pay rent and other bills due in April, the national association has conducted a survey to shed light on the state of the industry.

Responses from foodservice operators across the country have revealed:

  • Four out of five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1;
  • Seven out of 10 foodservice operators will further cut back on staff hours or layoff more employees if conditions do not improve;
  • Nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.

“Not only was our industry among the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, we’ve been one of the hardest hit so far, with nearly two thirds of our workforce now lost,” said Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada president and CEO. ”In our 75 years of existence as Canada’s national foodservice association, these are by far the worst numbers we have ever seen.”

Canada’s $93-billion foodservice industry represents four per cent of the country’s GDP. If conditions do not improve, Restaurants Canada estimates that foodservice sales will be down nearly $20 billion for the second quarter of 2020.

The conclusions are based on responses to a Restaurants Canada survey conducted between March 25 and March 29. Restaurants Canada received a total of 655 completed surveys from foodservice operators across Canada, representing 13,300 locations.

Restaurants Canada has been working closely with government and industry stakeholders since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, contributing to efforts to safeguard public health and assure business continuity as much as possible.

“Restaurants have played an essential role during this crisis, but are also uniquely challenged by the impacts of COVID-19,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada vice president, federal and Quebec. “We are encouraged by relief measures introduced so far that have shown the concerns of foodservice are being heard. Without the steps already taken, the impacts on our industry would be even more devastating. In this time of crisis, it is reassuring to see governments, at all levels, come to the table with solutions.”

Restaurants Canada said it continues to be at the table, working with all levels of government to strengthen actions already taken in the following areas to provide foodservice businesses with more immediate protection and relief, as well as help to reopen and rehire:

  • Rent relief: Flexible arrangements are needed from landlords to allow for payment-free periods. Foodservice operators are looking for a co-ordinated effort led by government, coupled with no-eviction orders to relieve pressure. An injunction on evictions would allow time for governments to bring stakeholders to the table to develop immediate and long-term solutions that will work for all parties involved.
  • Access to working capital: With little-to-no sales revenue coming in for most foodservice businesses, many have already depleted their reserve funds, or soon will. Existing measures may need to be expanded and new solutions continue to be welcomed to ensure restaurants will have enough working capital to reopen their doors once physical distancing rules are lifted.
  • Labour: An expansion of the qualifying conditions and time period for accessing the 75-per-cent wage subsidy would help restaurants not only keep workers on payroll but allow those already laid off to be rehired.


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