Burlington, Ont. – March 19, 2021 – On March 3rd, 2021, the City of Burlington City Council unanimously approved a resolution calling for the Federal and Provincial government to support the survival of restaurants and the hospitality industry through the introduction of new measures and supports. It has been recognized over the course of the pandemic that the impacts and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic vary greatly by economic sector.
The hospitality industry, including restaurants, continues to suffer the greatest negative impacts from the circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and will face the most significant barriers for long-term recovery. The latest data from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) shows that the hospitality industry will take 8+ years to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 and businesses in this sector require specific short and long-term supports to remain viable.
During the stay-at-home order that began on December 26, 2020, all restaurants in Ontario were required to close in-person dining. In Burlington, this closure lasted seven weeks until Halton and Burlington were moved to the Red/Control Level Restrictions under the Provincial COVID-19 Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open. Under the Red/Control Level, restaurants are restricted to a hard cap of 10 dine-in customers regardless of square footage. In Burlington, the feedback from the community continues to be that a hard cap does not make opening their business viable for most restaurants.
The resolution was passed, in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, with the support and feedback of the Burlington Restaurant Association (BRA) calling on the Federal and Provincial governments to:
- Address the key fixed costs facing the restaurant industry while they face steep revenue declines including the following actions:
- Expand small business relief measures including the Small Business Relief Grant and Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates to the hardest hit sectors, including restaurants, beyond the period when they are placed under grey/lockdown level.
- Provide wholesale pricing from the LCBO to restaurants to help increase margins on alcohol sales.
- Investigate and potentially legislate for the significant increases that restaurants and other businesses have seen in insurance premiums (up to 30%) despite no significant changes to the risks that are being insured.
- Provide clear evidence and actions as to why restaurants need hard caps and closures when other consumer facing business types are able to remain open with caps based on building capacity.
- Provide supports and guidance to the restaurant industry and the public to increase consumer confidence and make it clear what is permitted/safe to do for residents and consumers to support the local restaurant industry while ensuring we stop the spread of COVID-19.
- Develop a long-term strategy of a minimum of three (3) and up to five+ (5+) years that outlines what recovery is expected to look like for the Hospitality industry and long-term supports of one+ (1+) years that will be available to the industry to support their long-term survival and recovery.
The resolution was developed in partnership with the Burlington Economic Recovery Network (BERN) and Team Burlington, which includes representatives from Tourism Burlington, Burlington Economic Development, Burlington Chamber of Commerce and two business improvement areas – Aldershot Village BIA and the Burlington Downtown Business Association. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward and Ward 1 Councillor Kelvin Galbraith sit on the BERN.
The Burlington Restaurant Association was formed in 2010 as a membership-based organization with a goal to be the coordinated voice of restaurants and bars in the City of Burlington. The organization maintains a reputation as a respected advocacy group for the industry and continue to advocate on their behalf.
The Chair of BERN Randall Smallbone and Mayor Meed Ward co-signed a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Premier Doug Ford including a copy of this resolution calling for the introduction of critical supports for the hospitality industry.
A similar resolution was also brought forward by Mayor Meed Ward at the Ontario Big City Mayor’s (OBCM) caucus meeting on March 19, 2021. The OBCM resolution echoed the supports called for in the Burlington resolution and was passed, therefore strengthening the call to the Provincial and Federal governments to do more to support restaurants and the hospitality industry.
Formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, the OBCM includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.
The City of Burlington’s fundamental priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to protect the health and safety of Burlington residents, employers and employees, and support our business community to survive the economic impacts of COVID-19 public health measures.
Team Burlington and BERN continue to listen to the business community to ensure the Burlington business community is receiving the appropriate support to navigate the pandemic and prepare for long-term economic recovery. To learn more about Team Burlington programming, resources and support, as well as previous advocacy work led by the Burlington Economic Recovery Network, visit http://investburlington.ca/covid19.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward
“Partnership has been the key word with our local hospitality sector during this pandemic. Burlington City Council has heard their feedback and, working alongside BERN and Team Burlington, united our voices to call for additional restaurant and hospitality supports from our upper levels of government. We’ve seen how crucial funding has been in ensuring the local spots we love and that make our community what it is, will be there for us when this pandemic subsides. I continue to thank BERN for its exceptional work in advocacy and support of our local hospitality businesses.”
Randall Smallbone, Chair of the Burlington Economic Recovery Network
“The service sector and especially the restaurant industry has been the hardest hit during this Pandemic period. The 10 person per establishment just does not make sense for most restaurant establishments. I have supported several restaurants since the stay at home has been lifted. The majority that I have visited have enough square footage to allow the safe enjoyment of a meal. Many restaurant employees work at lower wage scales and depend on tips to make ends meet. In addition, there are a lot of restaurants owned by families, chefs with creative passion and entrepreneurs. Let us do what we can to help these people.”
Craig Kowalchuk, President of the Burlington Restaurant Association
“We would like to thank BERN for its continued leadership and resources for the businesses and the hospitality community in our city. BERN’s recent resolutions have amplified the voice of the hospitality sector but we must continue the work to turn these resolutions into actionable results that will support the survival and recovery of our industry. We need to be looking at a 36-month plan for proper recovery as many of the supports so far are deferrals.”
Manager, Marketing and Attraction
Burlington Economic Development