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Restaurants Canada - Alberta Budget provides no relief for struggling restaurateurs

Edmonton, March 23, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Yesterday's Alberta budget anticipates another large $8.8 billion deficit in 2018 which is down slightly from the $9.1 billion deficit for 2017 increasing the province’s debt to $54 billion this year and to $96 billion by 2023. The budget is counting on the stable resource prices including the on time completion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline expansion and carbon tax increases in an optimistic forecast to delivering a balanced budget by 2023.

“There is nothing in this budget to help Alberta’s struggling restaurateurs - one of Alberta’s largest job creators - survive the cumulative combination of declining sales and a significant increase in mandated costs, especially labour costs, over the past three years,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Vice President Western Canada. “Many small restaurants are struggling to survive and our members need some cost relief from the government to stem the stream of closures and layoffs. The next large $1.40 minimum wage increase to $15 in October could force those struggling restaurateurs to close more doors and lay off even more restaurant employees,” added von Schellwitz.

Restaurants Canada recommended that the Alberta government consider re-implementing the liquor server wage, introduce a youth wage differential, and introduce a carbon tax rebate for restaurateurs to help the industry turn the corner and survive the recent recession. Thus far, the government has not listened.

“When 75% of a restaurant’s energy costs are directly related to preserving and cooking food, there is little ability to reduce energy costs in the restaurant industry. Members are already doing everything possible to reduce energy costs through more energy efficient equipment and lighting etc., but cannot cut back on energy used to maintain food safety and cook for our guests. It makes no sense for our members to pay a carbon tax which is intended to reduce energy consumption,” concluded von Schellwitz.

Restaurants Canada is a growing community of 30,000 foodservice businesses, including restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and suppliers. We connect our members from coast to coast, through services, research and advocacy for a strong and vibrant restaurant industry. Alberta’s restaurant industry directly employs 148,000 Albertans and has total annual sales of $11 billion.