Ottawa BIA coalition calls for HST leave for hard-hit restaurant industry

A major local business organization is pushing for governments to extend tax breaks to the province’s hard-hit restaurant industry as it grapples with the effects of the pandemic.

The Ottawa Business Improvement Areas Coalition – which represents 19 local BIAs and claims that approximately 1,000 of its 6,200 and more member businesses are restaurants – is teaming up with the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association to urge governments to exempt restaurants from collecting and paying HST until the industry bounces back.

In a statement on its website Monday, the OCOBIA said the restaurant industry’s already slim profit margins were stretched to breaking point during the pandemic as owners were forced to invest in personal protective equipment and incur third-party delivery costs in order to stay afloat.

The proposal on the site calls for restaurants affected by the pandemic to receive tax credits or have a break from paying HST until business picks up.

“This industry is vital for our main streets, not to mention that it supports so many other sectors from agriculture and advertising to trades and design,” said Nathalie Carrier, general manager of BIA Vanier, in a press release. .

“Very fine margins now non-existent”

“Restaurants are an integral part of our tourism industry and are also essential employers for young people and newcomers. “

According to the RestoHST website, overall sales of Canadian restaurants have fallen by 80% since before COVID.

“Their very slim margins are now nonexistent, but they have been forced to continue to invest significantly in PPE, plexiglass renovations, online sales and third party delivery costs just to mitigate their huge loss and survive until. ‘at the end of the pandemic. », Indicates the site.

Besieged local restaurateurs say they need all the help they can get through the crisis.

“Although we have a brave face, most of us hide mountains of debt and hang by a thread,” Harriet Clunie, executive chef of Das Lokal at the Ottawa Byward Market, said in a statement. . “We are running out of breath, we are lacking ideas and we are running out of money.

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Cecil N. Messick