Rising energy costs a top election issue for Ontario restaurateurs

TORONTO, Sept. 14, 2011 /CNW/ - Rising energy costs are taking a toll on Ontario's $23-billion restaurant industry, according to an election survey by the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA). In total, 81 per cent of restaurant operators say rising energy costs are having a negative impact on their business.

Rising minimum wage (80 per cent), red tape (79 per cent) and sales taxes (77 per cent) are the next biggest issues identified in the survey.  Although minimum wage was frozen this year, it rose by 43 per cent from 2004 to 2010, compared to an 11 per cent increase in inflation.

In addition, liquor pricing and regulations are one of the top challenges identified by licensees in the survey.

"The restaurant industry presents a huge opportunity for Ontario to create jobs, drive tourism and build vibrant communities," says Garth Whyte, CRFA president and CEO.  "The results of this survey point out some of the challenges that government and industry need to address by working together."

WHAT IMPACT ARE THESE ISSUES HAVING ON YOUR BUSINESS?

Rising energy costs  70% significantly negative + 11% slightly negative  = 81% negative
Rising minimum wage  66% significantly negative + 14% slightly negative = 80% negative
Sales taxes  54% significantly negative + 23% slightly negative = 77% negative

DOES PROVINCIAL RED TAPE AND BUREAUCRACY HAVE A NEGATIVE IMPACT ON YOUR RESTAURANT OPERATION?

Yes  79%
No  21%

With more than 30,000 establishments across Ontario, the restaurant industry employs close to 500,000 people, making it the fourth-largest private sector employer in the province.  Over the last two years, however, the industry has lost more than 10,000 jobs due to rising costs and slowing sales.

"Although minimum wage was frozen this year, seven consecutive years of sizeable increases, along with rising energy and food costs, have had an impact on restaurant operators and their ability to create jobs," says Ron Reaman, CRFA's Ontario vice president.  "We need a policy environment that helps these important businesses grow, prosper and create more jobs at all levels."

The CRFA survey also finds that nearly three in four restaurant operators (71%) think provincial politicians have lost touch with the challenges that face small businesses, and only one in five (22%) agree that provincial politicians understand the contribution restaurants make to Ontario's economy.

CRFA has created an election tool kit to encourage restaurant operators to discuss key issues with candidates leading up to the Oct. 6 vote (online at www.crfa.ca) and will be meeting with the three major parties to discuss the survey findings and ideas to stimulate growth.

The CRFA survey was conducted online between July 27 and Aug. 16, 2011 and is considered accurate within +/- 7.6 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.  A total of 164 restaurant operators representing 6,000 establishments responded to the survey.

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. Canada's $61-billion foodservice industry employs more than one million people in communities across the country.

Image with caption: "CRFA survey of Ontario restaurant operators shows top business concerns leading up to Oct. 6 provincial election. (CNW Group/Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20110914_C3080_PHOTO_EN_3258.jpg

Image with caption: "CRFA survey of Ontario restaurant operators shows top business concerns leading up to Oct. 6 provincial election. (CNW Group/Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20110914_C3080_PHOTO_EN_3259.jpg

SOURCE Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

For further information:

To arrange an interview with Garth Whyte or Ron Reaman, contact Jill Holroyd, SVP Marketing and Communications, 416-738-7134 (cell) or jholroyd@crfa.ca;  Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, Communications Specialist, 416-649-4254 or pvasanthakumar@crfa.ca.

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Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

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ONTARIO ELECTION 2011

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