HST changes "very little, very late" for province's restaurant industry

VICTORIA, May 25, 2011 /CNW/ - Today's changes to the HST amount to "very little, very late" for the province's restaurant industry and their customers, according to the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association (CRFA).

"We can't believe that this is the only HST announcement," says CRFA President and CEO Garth Whyte.  "The fact remains that the cost of a restaurant meal is still going up because of the HST, and to add insult to injury the government is raising taxes on our members."

Public opinion polls and town hall meetings have clearly shown that British Columbians recognize the negative impact of the HST on the restaurant sector.  Restaurant sales in British Columbia have been trailing the rest of Canada since the HST was introduced.

  • Contrary to the report from the Independent Panel on the HST, which relied on preliminary Statscan data, restaurant sales in B.C. were flat ( -0.1%) between July 2010 and January 2011, compared to a 1.7% increase for all of Canada.  Excluding British Columbia, sales in the rest of Canada rose 2.0%.

A survey of CRFA members conducted in March, 2011 found that many restaurant operators are experiencing more dramatic effects:

  • Nearly nine in 10 (87%) respondents reported a drop in sales since HST took effect, with an average decrease of 15% between July 2010 and Jan. 2011 compared to a year earlier.
  • In the same survey, 68% of B.C. restaurateurs said they will vote against HST as it is currently structured in the upcoming HST referendum.

"Our members will be disappointed that today's announcement contains no sector specific measures to reduce the unique negative impact of the tax on BC's restaurant industry," says Mark von Schellwitz, CRFA Vice President, Western Canada.  "Today's announcement does nothing to convince more restaurant operators to support the HST."

British Columbia's $10-billion restaurant industry is the fourth-largest private-sector employer, providing 161,000 jobs in communities across the province, including 75,000 jobs for young people under the age of 25.

CRFA is one of Canada's largest business associations, with more than 30,000 members representing restaurants, bars, caterers, institutions and other foodservice providers. CRFA works to create an environment that allows restaurant operators in every community to grow and prosper.

SOURCE Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

For further information:

Prasanthi Vasanthakumar, Communications Specialist, 416-649-4254 or pvasanthakumar@crfa.ca

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Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association

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