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More financial support needed for Saskatchewan’s food service industry: Restaurants Canada

Restaurant inspection information is back online in Saskatchewan after being down for nearly half a year.
Restaurants Canada is calling on the Saskatchewan government to provide support to the province's food service businesses. Damian Dovaganes / The Canadian Press

Restaurants Canada says Saskatchewan food service businesses might not have enough cash flow to reopen due to the coronavirus pandemic and is calling on the province for help.

With Saskatchewan’s reopening plan underway, Restaurants Canada says businesses need more financial support to resume dine-in service when they are allowed.

In a recent survey done by Restaurants Canada, about seven in 10 restaurant owners are “either very or extremely worried that their business won’t have enough liquidity to pay vendors, rent and other expenses over the next three months.”

READ MORE: Canadian restaurants plan their reopenings as COVID-19 restrictions ease

Restaurant Canada says that while the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program is providing some businesses with relief, rent obligations can be still challenging for many.

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“At least one out of five independent restaurant operators are dealing with a landlord who is not willing to provide rent relief, either through the CECRA program or some other arrangement,” Restaurant Canada said in a release.

“Fourteen per cent of independent restaurants haven’t been able to pay rent for April and nearly 20 per cent aren’t able to pay rent for May, despite not having an agreement from their landlord to postpone those payments.”

READ MORE: Canadian restaurants say delivery app fees eating away at bottom line amid COVID-19

Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice-president for Western Canada, said resiliency in the industry won’t be enough in terms of being able to survive this pandemic.

“The government of Saskatchewan has made commendable efforts to help restaurants survive to this point with the Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment and other emergency measures,” von Schellwitz said.

“But as these mostly small and medium-sized businesses begin to gradually reopen their dining rooms, there will be a need for continued support.”

Restaurants Canada said 25,000 food service jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic.

25,000 food-service jobs lost in Saskatchewan during COVID-19: survey
25,000 food-service jobs lost in Saskatchewan during COVID-19: survey

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.