09/25/2020 12:29 EDT

A Meal Subsidy For Canada? Restaurants Call For Government Help Amid Pandemic

Subsidizing customer meals would help struggling eateries survive, Restaurants Canada argues.

benedek via Getty Images
The patio of Local Public Eatery, a restaurant in Vancouver's Gastown, is seen in this undated photo. Canada's restaurant industry is calling for help as the country faces the end of patio season amid a resurgence of COVID-19.

HALIFAX — Canada’s restaurant industry is bracing for the impact of patio closures as cold weather arrives, with experts saying the loss of open-air seating could be devastating. 

Food service experts say without targeted government aid, the combination of reduced seating capacity and a potential second wave of COVID-19 could cripple the industry. 

David Lefebvre, vice-president of Restaurants Canada, is calling on Ottawa to directly support the industry through meal subsidies.

Watch: CBC study suggests dining at restaurants poses greater COVID-19 risk. Story continues below.


He says while the throne speech extended the federal wage subsidy and a business aid program, subsidizing customer meals would directly help struggling restaurants survive.

Sylvain Charlebois, a professor of food distribution and policy at Dalhousie University, says restaurants are being creative with heaters and blankets to keep patios open longer.

While he agrees more targeted aid is needed, he calls meal subsidies “food stamps for the rich” and says New Brunswick’s rebate program on food and drink is a better alternative. 

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