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Many Canadian restaurants don't expect to survive COVID-19 pandemic: industry group

Last Updated Apr 23, 2020 at 9:11 am MDT

FILE: Many businesses have been forced to shut down or scale back their operations amid the coronavirus pandemic. (CityNews Vancouver)

One out of every two independent restaurants across Canada doesn't expect to survive the duration of the health crisis

Restaurants Canada is calling on all levels of government to support local businesses

Restaurants Canada lists an immediate moratorium on evictions, rent assistance as ways governments can help

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Dining options could be a lot more limited after the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.

That warning is coming from Restaurants Canada, as more eateries deal with low sales and rising debt. One out of every two independent restaurants across the country does not expect to survive the duration of the health crisis if the situation doesn’t improve over the next few months, the group said.

Rent has been flagged by restaurant owners surveyed as a major concern, with three quarters of them saying it was a main source of debt.

“Even the most experienced restaurateurs are struggling to meet their rent obligations, through no fault of their own, due to the unprecedented circumstances we’re all now facing,” said Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada President and CEO.

The industry group is calling for more help from all levels of government, saying restaurants are going to need more support as part of the transition to recover.

“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on small businesses, with restaurants being among the hardest hit. Even once restrictions are eased, they’re still going to need help to avoid closing down due to crushing levels of debt,” Munro added.

Restaurants Canada lists an immediate moratorium on evictions and lock-outs for commercial tenants, adequate rent assistance, and measures that continue until the economy as its recommendations to help struggling businesses.

“We look forward to ensuring the needs of foodservice businesses are addressed as part of this program so that they will be able to remain viable as the economy recovers from COVID-19,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Federal and Quebec, adding the group commends the government for its Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program.

When it comes to rent assistance, the group is asking for the financial help to be “at a percentage in line with decreased revenue,” noting that while loans and deferrals can help now, they will contribute to more debt later “if not combined with mechanisms for relief.”