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Ontario Restaurants In Battle With Province

Restaurant owners are among our most important clients, here at Synergy Merchant Services. This is mainly because of their long history with having difficulties getting money from the banks. “We’re too high risk, so they say,” mentioned one of our restaurateurs earlier this week, when discussing his experiences dealing with his local branch.

By participating in Synergy’s merchant cash advance program, restaurant owners from all over Canada have had a much easier go at securing the extra capital needed for such large expenditures as new kitchen equipment and renovations. In Synergy’s home province of Ontario, however, things can still be tough for the restaurant industry.

Yesterday, The Toronto Star‘s business reporter Dana Flavelle wrote of the Ontario restaurant industry’s current issues with inflated energy costs, wages, red tape and sales tax. With a new provincial election on the way, restaurant owners are hoping that the next provincial government will take a stand and do something about it.

As members of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association, we here at Synergy, have long been aware of the organization’s dedication to assisting its members with such matters at various levels of government. Undoubtedly, the CRFA will be working to have the province tackle the obstacles that exist within the restaurant industry.

Garth Whyte is the president and chief executive officer of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association. Said Whyte: “The restaurant industry presents a huge opportunity for Ontario to create jobs, drive tourism and build vibrant communities…I’d like to see a blue ribbon group focused on our sector to develop an integrated plan for the restaurant industry.”

Flavelle points out that Ontario restaurants have lost 10,000 jobs over the past three years and that the industry’s profitability level in the province is at 4.4 per cent. This is significantly below the national average of 7.1 per cent. Meanwhile, Ontario’s restaurant industry generates upwards of $23 billion yearly and is the province’s fourth largest employer.

One of the major dilemmas faced by the industry is the Harmonized Sales Tax which took effect last year. As a result, restaurateurs have to pay more for such items as cheese. Up to 30 per cent more, writes Flavelle. As well, “licensed restaurants pay just as much as consumers for alcohol purchased from the Liquor Control Board of Ontario or The Beer Store as there is no wholesale pricing model for those products.”

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