Toronto, January 28, 2021 – It may have taken a global pandemic to get municipal and provincial governments to tackle red tape surrounding alcohol sales and provide innovative changes to patio regulations, but they deserve a pat on the back for helping countless restaurants survive. That is why this year, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is awarding its annual Golden Scissors award for red tape reduction, part of Red Tape Awareness Week™, to the governments that took steps to allow restaurants to sell alcohol with delivery and takeout, and expand outdoor dining spaces.
“Early in the pandemic, there was a real movement among governments to look at how they could support the restaurant industry despite lockdowns. Giving restaurants the ability to sell one of the highest margin items on their menu and to take greater advantage of outdoor dining for as long as possible has made the difference between permanent closure and survival for thousands of restaurants. It’s a great example of the power of cutting red tape: many of the changes cost governments nothing, but made a huge difference to struggling restaurants,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario.
Alcohol delivery provides a vital lifeline to Ontario’s restaurants
From coast to coast, provincial finance ministers, attorney-generals and alcohol and gaming commissioners came together to ease the burden on shuttered dining rooms by allowing restaurants to deliver alcohol with takeout. And while most provinces allowed beer and wine with takeout or delivery orders, some went further: Ontario and Alberta also allowed mixed drinks to be sold in sealed containers.
“In Ontario, Attorney General Doug Downey and his team deserves significant credit for spearheading these measures,” added Mallough. “In addition to allowing alcohol with takeout, including mixed drinks as of January 1, Ontario also waived patio expansion permits and fees, allowed licensed cannabis retailers to deliver directly to customers, and eliminated an archaic rule that required cider producers to have an on-site orchard in order to have a retail store. The speed and efficiency with which these measures were taken should stand as an example for all ministries to follow as they continue to eliminate red tape.”
Municipalities make patio season 2020 bigger than ever
Canada’s mayors and city councillors stepped up when it came to patio expansion. St. John’s waived construction fees and streamlined the application process for outdoor patios. Quebec City reduced permit fees from $3,300 to $50. Winnipeg eliminated the need for a temporary patio permit all together, while Victoria’s Build Back Victoria program automatically validated all temporary patios without fees or permits. Some municipalities like Toronto even made changes to space heating, fire and electrical rules to allow businesses to winterize their patios and extend the season. Allowing business owners to use parking lots, sidewalk and road space provided a vital boost for the summer months for restaurants restricted to outdoor dining.
Restaurants have a long road to recovery
CFIB research predicts that restaurants could face a grueling 8 years of recovery to reach normal revenue levels at the current rate of sales. CFIB encourages governments that have not already done so to make these changes permanent to provide restaurants with an additional revenue source after the pandemic.
“These actions have proven that governments at all levels are able to find new ways to be efficient and cut red tape quickly when circumstances force their hands. We urge all governments to take the same approach to red tape this year as we continue through the pandemic and look for ways to spur economic recovery,” said Julie Kwiecinski, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for Ontario.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Milena Stanoeva, CFIB
About Red Tape Awareness Week™
Now in its twelfth year, Red Tape Awareness Week™ (January 25-29) highlights the cost and impact of excessive regulations. The annual campaign continues to influence governments across the country to launch red tape reduction initiatives. To learn more, visit CFIB.ca/redtape and follow #redtape.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.