Restaurants Canada says the 2022 federal budget, released this week, leaves restaurants “hungry for more” by failing to address key issues.
The association said that while it welcomes a number of commitments made by the federal government, the failure to respond to calls for extended loan forgiveness and repayment to help revive the industry is a critical oversight.
“While Restaurants Canada has appreciated the government’s long-standing support over the past two years that has helped our industry survive the pandemic, today’s 2022 federal budget falls short of the sectoral commitments required to help all 90,000 restaurants to recover and rebuild,” the association said in a statement on April 7.
The statement highlights that 80% of restaurants have gone into debt due to COVID-19 and almost two-thirds of these businesses need at least a year and a half to recover.
Some key measures welcomed
Restaurants Canada praised Budget 2022 for working with industry counterparts, provinces and territories, and Indigenous tourism operators to develop a new federal pandemic tourism growth strategy “that will help the sector to pave the way for growth, investment and stability”.
He also commended the federal government for committing to eliminate excise duties on low-alcohol beer starting July 1, 2022; improving key elements of the temporary foreign worker program; phase out access to the small business tax rate and examine whether the tax system provides adequate support for investment in growing businesses.
“We appreciate that the government has listened to our industry on many of our key issues, including the elimination of the punitive alcohol excise tax on certain products,” said Vice President, Federal and Quebec Affairs of Restaurants Canada, Olivier Bourbeau.
“This represents a first step, but it is still the restaurant sector that has been hardest hit by the pandemic, with operators taking on huge amounts of debt to survive. This has made it necessary to extend loan repayments until in the fall, more crucial than ever.
Additional support is needed
However, the statement chastised the government for not “creating the best possible conditions for recovery after more than two years of losing money or barely breaking even” by providing adequate financial assistance.
Restaurants Canada said it remains committed to working with all levels of government to:
- Sector-specific finance programs dedicated to the restaurant industry that offer loan repayment extensions, tax credits and/or other sources of finance to cover the exorbitant costs of pandemic security expenses
- Do no harm approach to taxes, fees and regulations to create the best possible conditions for recovery after more than two years of losing money or barely breaking even
- A whole-of-society approach to waste reduction, recognizing the need to educate consumers to ensure single-use take-out and drop-off items are successfully recycled or composted.
“Even before the emergence of COVID-19, consumer demand for takeout and delivery was already on the rise. Now, more than two years into this global crisis, the pandemic has very clearly reinforced the critical need for single-use items to ensure the health and well-being of Canadians as they continue to expect off-premises dining options,” added Bourbeau.