Time is of the essence for restaurants across Canada

  • National Newswatch

Foodservice industry pleads with government to extend CEBA loan repayments.While businesses around the country are emerging from one of the most challenging and volatile 3 years which led to record levels of debt and instability, the aftermath of the pandemic is still being felt by the Canadian foodservices industry. Many restaurant owners and operators are living day to day, cutting expenses simply to keep their business afloat, staff employed, and food on the table.Echoes of “the cost of doing business is rising”, “declaring bankruptcy after struggling to bounce back has been heartbreaking and a nightmare”, “we are hanging on by a thread”, has filled kitchens and dining room tables across the country.According to Restaurants Canada's operator survey conducted this July, 84% of foodservice companies reported lower profits in 2023 than 2019, and half of all foodservice companies are operating at a loss or just breaking even. Compared to 12% in 2019, four in 10 restaurant owners expect profit margins to be worse in 2023 than in 2022. As a result, the number of restaurant bankruptcies, in the first five months of 2023, has increased 89% over the same period in 2022.With the CEBA loan repayment deadline fast approaching on December 31st, businesses who are finding themselves unable to pay back their loans have been looking to riskier options to manage their debt loads. After such an uncertain last three years, we cannot ask business owners to take out yet another loan to repay the government for a forgivable portion of a loan that was provided to see them through a 3-year pandemic. This is unacceptable.Our industry is passionate. We care about the food we make and the people we serve. Our hearts and souls go into our service. It's why we rise early to prep dishes and stay late to clean up. Restaurant owners are not just fighting to keep their businesses afloat; they are fighting to preserve jobs, support their employees, and continue to be pillars of their communities.The federal government must announce its plan soon for the CEBA loan repayment, before too many small businesses are shackled by even more debt.Extending CEBA loan repayments will ensure taxpayer funds are paid back and save thousands of restaurants and other small businesses who sacrificed their livelihood throughout the pandemic, from being forced to declare bankruptcy.The industry is struggling. Extend the CEBA repayment period today.Kelly Higginson is President and CEO of Restaurants Canada.