Group pushes pol­icy changes to as­sist restau­rant in­dus­try

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - Group pushes pol­icy changes to as­sist restau­rant in­dus­try
Cal­gary restau­rant own­ers gath­ered Wed­nes­day to hear a na­tional ad­vo­cacy group present a pre-elec­tion cam­paign aimed at se­cur­ing pol­icy changes for the sec­tor.Mark von Schell­witz, vice-pres­i­dent of West­ern Canada for Restau­rants Canada, said for years Al­berta led the na­tion on food ser­vices sales growth and em­ploy­ment growth in the in­dus­try. But be­tween Fe­bru­ary 2015 and De­cem­ber 2018, the num­ber of work­ers em­ployed in the food ser­vice and ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor in Al­berta dropped by more than 10,000, von Schell­witz said.“That’s 10,000 peo­ple who are no longer earn­ing an in­come from our busi­nesses, so we think that that’s re­ally sad, never mind the amount of small busi­nesses that have ac­tu­ally gone un­der,” he told re­porters fol­low­ing an event at Blink Restau­rant & Bar on 8th Av­enue S.W.“The last few years have been par­tic­u­larly a chal­lenge.”Von Schell­witz said while Cal­gary was one of the first places in Al­berta to feel the pain of the eco­nomic down­turn, those ef­fects have spread to restau­rants across the prov­ince.The Restau­rants Canada cam­paign, which was launched Tues­day in Ed­mon­ton, in­cludes 16 pol­icy rec­om­men­da­tions that the group says would im­prove con­di­tions for food-ser­vice busi­nesses, in­clud­ing a youth/train­ing wage and a liquor-serv­ing wage, which von Schell­witz said would help busi­nesses al­lo­cate more wages to kitchen staff who don’t earn tips.The group also wants to see Al­berta freeze the min­i­mum wage un­til other prov­inces reach $15 an hour, then re­store the an­nual min­i­mum-wage for­mula used be­fore 2015. Among other rec­om­men­da­tions is a call for Al­berta to re­turn to a reg­u­lar/ir­reg­u­lar work­day dis­tinc­tion for cal­cu­lat­ing gen­eral hol­i­day pay.Cal­gary restau­ra­teur Wayne Leong, who has worked in the in­dus­try for more than 30 years, cited Al­berta’s in­creased min­i­mum wage and ris­ing prop­erty taxes as fac­tors squeez­ing lo­cal busi­nesses.“If you look on 8th Av­enue, there has been a lot of busi­nesses that have closed,” he said.“And they ’re good op­er­a­tors. Our in­dus­try is non-for­giv­ing in terms of mak­ing sure we look af­ter our guests, but above and be­yond that, when I look out there, in Cal­gary par­tic­u­larly, there’s been a lot of places that have been around for a long time that can no longer be in busi­ness. And not be­cause they didn’t want to op­er­ate the restau­rant; it’s just that these ex­penses have gone up so sub­stan­tially.”Restau­rants Canada, which rep­re­sents more than 30,000 food ser­vice and hos­pi­tal­ity busi­nesses in Canada, said real food ser­vice sales, or sales ad­justed for menu in­fla­tion, should be­gin to re­bound in Al­berta this year, but are still ex­pected to re­main 3.5 per cent be­low what the in­dus­try re­ported in 2014.United Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader Ja­son Ken­ney told restau­rant own­ers in Ed­mon­ton on Tues­day that, if elected, his party will con­sider bring­ing in changes to re­duce the min­i­mum wage for youth and for al­co­hol servers.In re­sponse to his com­ments, Premier Rachel Not­ley on Tues­day ac­cused Ken­ney of look­ing to make life harder for young min­i­mum-wage work­ers and those in the ser­vice in­dus­try.

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