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  • SSM Chamber of Commerce supports campaign to prevent closure of restaurants

    For Immediate Release
    August 26, 2020
    SSM Chamber of Commerce supports ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign to prevent closure of restaurants
    Sault Ste. Marie – More than 60 per cent of Canada’s restaurants risk having to close their doors permanently by November, according to government data.
    The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), produced by Statistics Canada with support from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, found that 29% of accommodation and food service businesses cannot operate at all with social distancing measures in effect. A further 31% will only able to remain operational for up to 90 days with distancing measures in effect. In other words, up to 60% of the industry could fail within three months.
    These figures are even more troubling when you consider the jobs already lost. When COVID hit, 83% of businesses in the accommodation and food services industries temporarily closed and two-thirds were forced to lay off some staff, including almost a quarter that were forced to lay off all their staff.  According to Restaurants Canada, the food service industry lost 800,000 jobs.
    “Canada’s restaurant industry directly creates one out of every 15 jobs (1.2 million Canadians) and accounts for close to 100,000 establishments,” notes Rory Ring, CEO of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce. “When the pandemic hit, our restaurants were among the first and hardest hit. Notwithstanding their own job losses, the food services industry stepped up to serve their communities and their customers and continued to bring Canadians together – just in new and innovative ways.”
    In spite of its best intentions and best efforts however, the food services industry will be among the last to resume normal operations, on a timeline stretching at least into the next 12-18 months. Current government supports are not equipped for this reality.
    “Food service locations operate on thin margins when tables are full and face high fixed costs, seasonality, high liquidity, and perishable inventory. The reality now, with COVID-19 in our midst, is that the safety requirements both limit revenue and increase costs. Continued operation for the majority of our restaurants is uncertain,” adds Ring.
    While the economy is now slowly beginning to recover, to date the federal government has not offered help tailored to the needs of the hardest hit industries like food services, which will take a long time to recover. That’s why, with the support of the Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and 15 food service businesses, representing more than 60 brands, have launched the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign.
    “We need to act now. Across Canada, our restaurants are where we meet for business or pleasure, where we got our first job and where our families spend a night out. Simply put, our restaurants are cornerstones in our communities,” says Hon. Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. “The ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign underscores the urgent need for Canadians – both the public and our governments – to come together to support these businesses in their time of need.”
    The campaign puts a spotlight on the current situation faced by Canada’s restaurants amidst COVID-19: high costs, fewer customers, and government programs ill-equipped for the unique, long-term challenges faced by the industry.
    Our Restaurants is a campaign led by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and supported by:
    • Arterra Wines Canada
    • Benny & Co.
    • Boston Pizza
    • CWB Franchise Finance
    • Firkin Group of Pubs
    • Foodtastic
    • Gordon Food Service
    • Molson Coors Beverage Company
    • Northland Restaurant Group
    • Paramount Fine Foods
    • Pizza Pizza
    • Restaurants Canada
    • Service Inspired Restaurants (SIR Corp)
    • St. Louis Bar and Grill Restaurants
    • Sysco Canada
    Together, these companies represent more than 60 of the best known restaurant brands across Canada and the whole of the food services industry.
    “We can all make a difference. Canadians need to observe safety measures while also starting to resume our normal lives, including being able to go out for a meal. Everyone also needs to remind their elected representatives of the importance of our restaurants in our lives,” concludes Beatty.
    The campaign is national, bilingual, includes paid advertising, and the launch of the website OurRestaurants.ca (NosRestaurants.ca in French).
    The Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce is encouraging the community to support our local businesses, including our restaurants, during Canada United Weekend, August 28th to 30th; Canadians can earn a chance to win one of twenty-five $10,000 cash prizes when they shop or dine local during the weekend. With your help, the Canada United campaign is also raising money through the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund to help small Canadian businesses with their COVID-19 recovery efforts. To help raise more money, simply watch the Canada United video, like posts on Facebook or Instagram, or use #CanadaUnited on Twitter. Every time you do, RBC will contribute 5¢ to the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund. Learn more about the contest and the Small Business Relief Fund at GoCanadaUnited.ca
    Additional Quotes:
    “Through the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign Boston Pizza stands with our fellow competitors big and small in highlighting the critical and urgent support needed to sustain the restaurant industry and the many Canadians it employs through the debilitating impacts of the pandemic.” - Jim Treliving, Chairman and Founder, Boston Pizza
    “The Firkin Group of Pubs stands in solidarity with restaurants across the country, in supporting the ‘Our Restaurants‘ campaign, in bringing awareness to the plight of our suffering industry, and the continued call for sustained government support, to ensure our survival, which is crucial to the overall Canadian economy.” - Larry Isaacs, President, The Firkin Group of Pubs
    “As co-chair of the Chamber's national committee on foodservice, we have come together to raise our voice concerning the looming threat of widespread restaurant closures. This would not only have disastrous impacts on employment, but on all sectors supporting restaurant operations, including food and beverage distributors and other businesses within the supply chain, right through to Canadian farmers. We welcome the additional voice of the Chamber to encourage Canadians to support their local restaurants so that foodservice businesses can continue contributing to Canada’s recovery.” - David Lefebvre, Vice President, Federal and Quebec, Restaurants Canada
    “We are proud to be a part of the ‘Our Restaurants’ campaign. We strive each and every day to provide the safest possible environment for our guests and our team members. Operating at 50% capacity in a business that has very low profit margins at the best of times is extremely difficult if not impossible. We need support from all levels of government to help us through these difficult times particularly in regards to occupancy costs. We ask for your support to lobby our government representatives to get immediate action.  We want to be here in the future to serve you.” - Paul J. Bognar, President and Chief Operating Officer, Service Inspired Restaurants
    For more information:
    Rory Ring, CEO
    Sault Ste. Marie Chamber of Commerce

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