It was March 16 – the growing COVID-19 crisis prompted the Prime Minister to permanently close the Canadian border – and Tyler MacNeill, of London, Ontario, was about to learn that he was unemployed.
A baker working at night in a local Tim Hortons for two years, he was told the store would close between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
“Basically, our shift was the first to leave,” he said. Toronto Sun.
MacNeil is one of 300,000 Ontario food service workers who lost their jobs in March, according to figures released Thursday by Restaurants Canada. Ontario’s losses account for nearly one-third of the industry’s 800,000 layoffs.
“Not only has our industry been among the first to feel the impacts of COVID-19, but we have been one of the hardest hit so far,” said Shanna Munro, CEO of Restaurants Canada, adding that the results survey losses are the worst his association has seen. in its 75 years of history.
Looking at restaurants across the country, the findings paint a devastating picture.
If current conditions persist, the results suggest that many of the jobs lost may never return.
Four of the five restaurants surveyed laid off employees last month and almost one in 10 restaurants closed permanently.
In addition, 70% of respondents say they will have to cut further if conditions do not improve, and 18% said they risk closing their doors permanently.
For Nathan Hynes, this is a possibility that looms more every day.
The owner of the Auld Spot pub on Danforth, he was forced to fire his 18 employees last month.
“It was brutal,” he said. “Our revenues have gone to zero. “
Like many pub-style restaurants, a good deal of their daily consumption comes from the bar, so going entirely on the go is not a sustainable business model.
But he tries.
Starting Thursday, he has rehired his background staff and will offer a takeout menu for the weekend.
“We give it a crack,” said Hynes. “It has always been a very small part of our business. “
Like many other restaurateurs, he is terrified of what the Canadian hospitality industry will look like after the pandemic is over, saying that the government must provide real and immediate solutions to business owners facing dark days.
“The wage subsidies for businesses that are forced to close are irrelevant because they are closed,” he said, speaking of the $ 71 billion grant from Finance Minister Bill Morneau, which should not be distributed before at least six weeks.
“We are all going into the abyss. “
On Twitter: @bryanpassifiume