ontario jobs

More than 300,000 people lost jobs in Ontario's food and beverage sector last month

A new survey indicates that more than 300,000 people have lost jobs in the food and beverage industry in the province since March 1, and Restaurants Canada warns that many of these jobs might not return after the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

The survey, conducted by Restaurants Canada, a national non-profit that works on behalf of the country's foodservice industry, shows that approximately 800,000 jobs in Canada's food and beverage industry have been lost over the past month — 37.5 per cent of which are in Ontario.

"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, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, in a statement.

"In our 75 years of existence as Canada’s national foodservice association, these are by far the worst numbers we have ever seen."

The survey also revealed that four out of five Canadian restaurants have laid off employees since March 1, seven out of 10 foodservice operators will further cut back on staff hours or lay off more employees if conditions do not improve, and nearly one out of 10 restaurants have already closed permanently

According to the organization, another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue.

In Ontario, Restaurants Canada estimates that, if conditions don't improve, the province's foodservice sales will be down more than $7.7 billion for the second quarter of 2020.

Currently, Ontario’s nearly $37 billion foodservice industry represents 4 per cent of the province’s GDP.

And while Restaurants Canada does acknowledge the steps being taken to mitigate the impacts on the restaurant industry in the province and the country as a whole, they're advocating for more to be done.

"We commend the Ontario government for deferring tax collection and other government payments so that restaurants can preserve much needed cash flow during this crisis," said James Rilett, Restaurants Canada vice president for Central Canada, in a statement. 

"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."

But to go even further, the non-profit says they're working with all levels of government to ensure foodservice businesses also receive rent relief, access to working capital and an expansion of the qualifying conditions and time period for accessing the 75 per cent wage subsidy

The survey was conducted by Restaurants Canada between March 25 and March 29 and received a total of 655 completed surveys from foodservice operators across Canada, representing 13,300 locations (as many respondents belong to multi-unit businesses).

According to Restaurants Canada, the country's commercial foodservice industry is made up of 97,500 establishments, including full-service restaurants, quick-service restaurants, caterers and drinking places.

Lead photo by

Hector Vasquez

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