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Half of the independent restaurants in Canada don’t expect to survive unless they get rent relief

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It’s no secret that restaurants across the country are struggling amid the pandemic thanks to forced closures and social distancing measures, and it seems many of those businesses won’t be able to survive the duration of this period without commercial rent relief.

According to a survey of from Restaurants Canada — a national, not-for-profit association working on behalf of the country’s food and beverage sector — 75 per cent of respondents said they are either very or extremely concerned about their current level of debt.

On top of that, if conditions don’t improve over the next three months, one out of every two independent restaurants does not expect to survive.

The survey also found that most multi-unit foodservice businesses will have to permanently shut down at least one of their locations.

“Even the most experienced restaurateurs are struggling to meet their rent obligations, through no fault of their own, due to the unprecedented circumstances we’re all now facing,” said Shanna Munro, president and CEO of Restaurants Canada, in a statement.

“COVID-19 has taken a devastating toll on small businesses, with restaurants being among the hardest hit. Even once restrictions are eased, they’re still going to need help to avoid closing down due to crushing levels of debt.”

According to Restaurants Canada, at least three quarters of respondents identified rent as a main source of debt for their operations.

As a result, the organization is advocating for several measures to be implemented into the new Canada Commercial Rent Asisstance (CCRA)

“Restaurants Canada commends the federal government for leading a coordinated effort with the provinces and territories toward the creation of a Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program,” said David Lefebvre, Restaurants Canada vice president, in a statement.

“We look forward to ensuring the needs of foodservice businesses are addressed as part of this program so that they will be able to remain viable as the economy recovers from COVID-19.”

Few details have been announced about the federal program to date, but the association recommends it include an immediate moratorium on evictions and lock-outs for commercial tenants, rent assistance at a percentage in line with decreased revenue, and measures that continue while the economy is still in recovery.

The Restaurants Canada survey was conducted between April 15 and April 21, with a total of 914 completed surveys from foodservice operators across Canada representing 11,856 locations (as many respondents belong to multi-unit businesses). 

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