Subsidy cut over the summer could leave half the restaurants behind

Summer is here and Canadian restaurateurs are finally seeing the light at the end of the dark and gloomy tunnel of the ongoing global pandemic.

But for many, survival is still uncertain.

As much as they would like to stay focused on welcoming their regulars, placing more orders with local farmers, and creating more jobs for the communities they call home, all of these things will become much more difficult on July 4 – the day. where they will begin to lose access to federal subsidies for rent and wages.

That’s because after more than a year of operating under severe restrictions, most restaurants are drowning in debt they’ve had to incur just to keep the lights on.

The devastating effects of this pandemic were not felt the same way by all Canadians. The harsh reality is that we can’t talk about a recovery and recovery if so many restaurants and small business owners are still struggling to survive.

Almost half of all food and beverage establishments lost money on each day of the pandemic. They now face a long and difficult road to recovery and will likely need at least a year to return to some semblance of normalcy.

While some areas may be ready to resurface, in force, from the COVID-19 tunnel, our local restaurants are still in it. Cutting their subsidies before they are able to stand on their own feet again will endanger an industry that is crucial to rebuilding our country’s economy.

What most Canadians don’t realize is that at least 95 cents of every dollar we spend in a restaurant goes straight back to our communities. That’s because even in the best of circumstances, a typical Canadian restaurant has a pre-tax profit margin of less than five percent.

No other sector makes so little profit and brings so much to our economy: 95 percent of all restaurant income typically goes to local jobs, purchases from Canadian farmers, food and beverage producers, and other suppliers to the restaurant industry, charitable contributions and more.

Restaurants are also essential in bringing nearly half a million Canadians back to work.

According to May Labor Force Survey According to Statistics Canada, nearly two-thirds (63.8%) of the 571,000 jobs still lacking in the Canadian economy due to the COVID-19 pandemic come from the restaurant industry.

Restaurants are eager to get these jobs back, but they must survive first.

On behalf of our hardest hit industry, Restaurants Canada is urging the federal government to at least keep rent and wage subsidies at their current levels over the summer. We need to keep our local restaurants in the know so they can continue to fuel Canada’s recovery – literally and figuratively – and ultimately help the Prime Minister deliver on his throne speech commitment to restore 1 million jobs.



If we are to rebuild a stronger, more sustainable economy that continues to reflect the incredible diversity of our country, our industry is the best place to start.

Visit to find out how you can help us make our voices heard and save restaurants.

Todd Barclay is President and CEO of Restaurants Canada, a national non-profit association that advances the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry.

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About Christopher Easley

Christopher Easley

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