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HomeNewsCampaign to "Save BC Restaurants" launches as over half are losing money

Campaign to “Save BC Restaurants” launches as over half are losing money

It is unhappy hour for many restaurants across the province.

According to Restaurants Canada and the BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association (BCRFA), over half of restaurants in BC are not profitable right now, and bankruptcies have increased by 48% in the last 10 months.

These figures are clearly outlined in their new joint Save BC Restaurants campaign that launched yesterday (Tuesday).

The campaign report is designed to look like an “unhappy hour” food menu, itemizing each issue and worrying statistic the industry is currently facing.

Ian Tostenson, President and CEO of the BCRFA, said “This is all really the aftermath of the pandemic where we took a major hit, and of course inflation and interest rates.”

17% of restaurants in BC could close in the next 18 months due to pandemic debt.

“Most of the issues we are having right now are with our interactions with government,” he said.

This morning, Tostenson and a few hundred others from the industry, government, and media had a conference call to discuss these issues, which is something he said has never happened before.

“The plea is: here is all the issues, government. We need to have a single focus now to work with industry and help us get out of this,” he said, mentioning individual restaurants have had to go to municipal governments and numerous ministries within the provincial government in order to clear their red tape.

As a result, Restaurants Canada and the BCRFA are calling on a Ministry of Hospitality to be started.

“On a day-to-day basis we are going to the Ministries of Health, Labour, Small Business, the Attorney General… everyone has issues and they all impact restaurants,” Tostenson explained, adding the burden of hospitality would be too large to simply fold in to the Ministry of Tourism.

“Restaurants have so many issues that are particular. I think we would get lost if we were under that ministry because they have so much stuff to do right now on its own.”

Next up for Tostenson is a meeting with BC Premier David Eby.

“We feel very accountable to industry now that we need to report back to them on our progress,” he said. “It has gone beyond just talking about these issues, but getting some concrete things done… we are going to try and focus on a couple big issues, get some wins, and start to get some hope back into the industry.”

Tostenson encouraged people to keep supporting their favourite local restaurants with their patronage, if they can.

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