The Canadian foodservice sector was one of the first to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic while being one of the most affected. The industry has lost almost two thirds of its workforce to date, and one out of two independent restaurants fear for their survival.
Restaurant employees have always been known as hard workers. The saying "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade" accurately describes how restaurant owners have been able to roll up their sleeves and reinvent themselves, sometimes in just a few days, to keep their business afloat in a changing environment. However, despite their perseverance and creativity, many had to close their doors or are about to do so. Although patio season allowed some of them to host customers in a safe environment this summer, many restaurant owners fear the worst this fall.
Since last March, NATIONAL has been working with Restaurants Canada, which represents nearly 30,000 members across the country. Its mission is to support a dynamic and diversified industry that contributes greatly to the Canadian economy by generating $93 billion in sales and directly employing 1.2 million people. During the pandemic, Restaurants Canada has been working to ensure the survival of restaurant owners, as the industry could lose up to $44.8 billion in annual sales compared to 2019.
NATIONAL has assisted the organization's efforts to support the industry. Through various media relations operations across the country, positioning Restaurants Canada's regional directors, we have helped bring to light the harsh reality of many restaurant owners.
Thanks to these media interventions, we have raised public awareness of the difficulties of restaurant owners and the uncertainty of many regarding their survival. By placing the challenges of this industry at the centre of discussions, Restaurants Canada was able to garner enough attention from governments and from federal and provincial political representatives so that emergency assistance from the federal government covering up to 75% of the rent was granted to restaurants for three months.
Although the battle is not over for the foodservice industry, this support has been a breath of fresh air for restaurant owners. NATIONAL continues to work with Restaurants Canada as it keeps looking out for the interests of its members.