B.C.’s restaurant industry is hanging on by a thread, as lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic appear set to persist until at least the summer.
Industry organization Restaurants Canada says a new survey of businesses found 10 per cent of the country’s restaurants have already closed for good, with another 18 per cent at risk of going under by the end of April.
Restaurants Canada western Canada vice-president Mark von Schellwitz said more than 800,000 Canadian restaurant workers are currently off the job.
“In British Columbia that equates to about 121,500 jobs alone that might not be able to return if current conditions continue this way,” said
“We’ve got many, many restaurateurs that are struggling to pay their rent and other bills in April that are due with no income to pay them.”
Robyn Edwards, general manager of Cafe Barney on Main Street in Vancouver, said even though her company owns their property they’re still nervous.
“On a good day, keeping a restaurant open and running in Vancouver is close to impossible,” she said.
“We’re concerned that we’ll re-open at the end of all of this — regardless of getting back to some sort of normalcy — [and] people will be afraid to go out, they’ll be low on income right out of the gate.”
Edwards estimated that even if the shutdown were to last for just one or two months, it would take the restaurant six months to get back on its feet.
In the interim, the company’s staff aren’t working.
The B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association estimates the province’s restaurant industry generates more than $13 billion in economic activity annually and employs more than 180,000 people.
Von Schellwitz said it is the third largest employer in the province, and contributes about five per cent to B.C.’s GDP.
Restaurants in B.C. have been ordered to cease dine-in service, and while many have shifted to take-out, bringing in enough cash to cover the bills remains a challenge.
Von Schellwitz said the industry is calling on the government to help coordinate rent relief and no-eviction orders to protect restaurants who have little or no cash flow during the shutdown.
He said restaurants also need access to working capital, as many have already drained their cash reserves.
With such depleted revenues, taking advantage of the federal government’s 75-per cent wage subsidy is also difficult.
Von Schellwitz government to expand the qualifying conditions and time period for the subsidy to help keep workers on payroll and allow those who have been laid off to be rehired.
Additional warning about Vancouver’s No5 Orange following possible exposure of COVID-19 – News1130
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – An expanded COVID-19 notification has been issued by Vancouver Coastal Health after an additional person who tested positive for the virus visited the site.
Anyone who visited the Vancouver club on July 1, 3, 4 and 7 may have been exposed to the virus and is being advised to monitor themselves for any symptoms of the virus.
Expanded notification for exposure to COVID-19 at the No5 Orange strip club in Vancouver. Those who visited on July 1st, 3rd, 4th or 7th are being notified by @VCHhealthcare to self monitor!
— Bruce Claggett (@BruceClaggett) July 9, 2020
On Tuesday Vancouver Coastal Health had warned about a possible exposure on July 1st but has learned about another person who attended several other times who contracted the virus.
The lounge has been closed down by VCH to review its safety plan.
Fed's Bostic reportedly says U.S. recovery may be 'leveling off' – CNBC
Raphael Bostic, president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Christopher Dilts | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank President Raphael Bostic said the U.S. economic recovery is in danger of stalling due to the recent spike in coronavirus cases across many American states.
High-frequency data had shown a “leveling off” of economic activity both in terms of business openings and mobility, he told the Financial Times newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.
“There are a couple of things that we are seeing and some of them are troubling and might suggest that the trajectory of this recovery is going to be a bit bumpier than it might otherwise,” he told the newspaper.
“And so we’re watching this very closely, trying to understand exactly what’s happening.”
California, Texas and Florida are all among two dozen U.S. states reporting high infection rates as a percentage of diagnostic tests conducted over the past week, an alarming sign of a virus still spreading largely unchecked throughout much of the country.
The U.S. death toll from the virus has topped 130,000, Reuters calculations show.
Via Rail to lay off 1,000 employees amid coronavirus disruptions – Globalnews.ca
Amid ongoing travel restrictions and concerns about the novel coronavirus, Via Rail is planning 1,000 temporary layoffs, according to an internal email sent to employees on Wednesday afternoon by the railway company’s CEO Cynthia Garneau.
The announcement comes at a time when the national passenger rail company continues to experience service disruptions across most of its regional and national routes, including cancellation of all trains between Montreal and Halifax, and Toronto and Vancouver until at least the beginning of November.
Garneau explained in her email that members of Via Rail’s management could also be affected by layoffs.
The company has cited uncertainty about COVID-19 as a reason for offering reduced booking options on some routes until at least the end of this year.
In her email, Garneau noted that Via Rail had previously reduced and suspended services in March, based on a ridership decrease of more than 95 per cent, and that the company doesn’t anticipate ridership to rebound in the foreseeable future.
“We have had to make difficult decisions to deal with the situation as we gain a better understanding of the impacts of the pandemic on our operations,” she wrote.
Garneau also noted that the company has attempted to mitigate impacts of the pandemic on its workforce by allowing some to work full-time, part-time or to get paid at home while their work was suspended.
“Via Rail is now forced to reconsider its approach in order to further adjust to the increasing financial impacts this crisis has had on the company. Therefore we need to make TEMPORARY layoffs that could affect all types of employees,” she wrote.
“Some measures will also affect management and professional employees. A few scenarios are under consideration and we will get back to you quickly, no later than the end of July.”
She said that the company would be sending 1,000 layoff notices, after giving written notice to unionized employees with Unifor who could exercise displacement rights under their collective agreement.
Via Rail banks survival on high frequency rail project
Global News also obtained a copy of some “key messages” prepared for Via Rail management to deliver to the employees in order to give them notice of the layoffs.
In the suggested messages, management was advised to tell some employees that they would only be temporarily affected and receive 70 per cent of their usual salary “to ensure a rapid return to service even if there is no need for them to be called back to work immediately.”
Garneau’s email and the internal messages both indicated that the layoffs would come into effect on July 24, following a formal notice that is required under the company’s collective agreement with its union.
The news comes at a time when many Canadians are wondering how long job losses and high unemployment rates due to COVID-19 will continue. It also comes amid growing concerns about increased deficits and the government’s ability to provide financial stimulus in the future.
“Via Rail will continue to work on progressing its service resumption plan as the situation evolves with the goal of reintegrating its employees as soon as the customer demand allows it,” Garneau said in her email.
“Until then, your managers are there for you if you have any questions or concerns. We are going to go through this difficult period, and, once passed, I am confident that we will be in a position to reacquaint ourselves with growth and opportunities.”
Global News contacted Via Rail for comment. A spokesperson replied with a statement that confirmed the layoffs along with a summary of the company’s reasons for taking this action.
Via Rail is owned by Canadian taxpayers but operates at arms length from the federal government.
The office of Transport Minister Marc Garneau said in an email that the government would “continue to work with Via Rail to find solutions and support workers and their families in these unprecedented times.”
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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