800,000 food service workers cut due to COVID-19: survey

Four in five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1

800,000 food service workers cut due to COVID-19: survey
Many businesses chose to board up their premises amid a crime spike in Vancouver during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Canada has lost around 800,000 food services jobs because of COVID-19, and 300,000 of them were in Ontario alone, according to a survey by Restaurants Canada.

Four out of five restaurants have laid off employees since March 1 while seven in 10 food service operators will further cut staff hours or lay off more employees if conditions do not improve.

Nearly one out of 10 restaurants have closed permanently and another 18 per cent will permanently close within a month if current conditions continue, found the survey conducted between March 25 and March 29, with 655 respondents from foodservice operators representing 13,300 locations. 

“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,” says Shanna Munro, Restaurants Canada president and CEO. “In our 75 years of existence as Canada’s national foodservice association, these are by far the worst numbers we have ever seen.”

Ontario’s nearly $37-billion food service industry represents four per cent of the province’s GDP. And if conditions do not improve, Ontario’s food service sales will be down by more than $7.7 billion for the second quarter of 2020, says the group.

Government support
However, Restaurants Canada welcomed the work Ontario has been doing to help restaurants. The province earlier announced that it is deferring premium reporting and payments for all businesses for six months through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). 

“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,” says James Rilett, Restaurants Canada vice-president for Central Canada. “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.”

The Canadian government has said that the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees, representing a benefit of up to $847 per week from March 15 to June 6, 2020. It will be available for three months, retroactive to March 15.

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