The restaurant industry is mounting a new campaign to raise awareness about the tough challenges it faces in Alberta

The restaurant industry is mounting a new campaign to raise awareness about the tough challenges it faces in Alberta.

“Since 2015, restaurants across Alberta have been battling a perfect storm of operational cost increases from a variety of policy changes, against the backdrop of a weakened economy,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice-president for Western Canada. “Working together with Restaurants Canada, Alberta’s next government has an opportunity to improve conditions for food service businesses so that they can continue serving communities across this province.”

Restaurants Canada, which represents more than 30,000 food service and hospitality businesses across Canada, has launched its campaign for the election this spring in the province.

“For years, Alberta’s restaurant sector led the nation, contributing to jobs, tourism, investment and spaces for people to come together. Alberta’s food service sales growth now ranks second to last of all the provinces in Canada due to several setbacks caused by operational cost increases from legislative and regulatory changes,” said the organization.

Information about the campaign and issues the industry faces can be found at restaurantrealities.ca.

“Policies that were intended to boost earnings and reduce the cost of living for Albertans have instead resulted in a food service crisis, including: a loss of more than 10,000 foodservice and accommodation jobs; a decline in the average number of workers per unit from 13 to 11.7; a 9.1 per cent drop in average sales per unit (adjusted for menu inflation).”

But the Alberta Federation of Labour said Restaurants Canada is launching a third-party election campaign that includes proposing rollbacks to minimum wage increases and various other workplace reforms that support working Albertans.

“Their campaign is an attempt to influence voters in this spring’s election by claiming that Alberta’s workplace changes implemented by the Notley government have been ‘too much too soon,’ but history shows us that for Restaurants Canada it is never the time for things such as a meaningful increase to the minimum wage or improved workers’ rights,” said the AFL in a news release.

“Restaurants Canada remains more concerned about keeping wages low for their members, than about the thousands of minimum wage earners living below the poverty line,” said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, in a statement.

“We know that restaurant sales are up in Alberta, we know that small businesses received a significant tax cut from this government in 2017, and we know that the discussion about the minimum wage isn’t about a few young people getting some job experience. Restaurants Canada continues to rely on myths and misleading statistics to support their real goal, which is a rollback in workers’ rights and lower wages for workers in the industry – meaning more profits for their members.”

– Mario Toneguzzi for Calgary’s Business


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