Recapping ORHMA’s biggest news of 2020

With 2020 in the rearview mirror, RestoBiz reviews the Ontario Restaurant, Hotel, and Motel Association’s most-discussed news of the year.


20. ORHMA participates in the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses

ORHMA, along with other like-minded business associations, aligned and came together to form the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses.

19. 250+ businesses and associations unite to urge a halt to planned alcohol tax hike amid pandemic

ORHMA, along with other like-minded business associations, joined a national industry-supported coalition titled “Freeze It For Them” to fight tax increases which would raise beverage alcohol prices for Ontario’s licensees.

18. Daily COVID-19 screening required in Ontario workplaces

As of Sept. 26, 2020, each Ontario workplace has been required to proactively screen employees for related symptoms and risk factors prior to entry into their work environment.

17. Extension to outdoor patio spaces

After several recommendations to the provincial government, restaurants and bars were allowed to extend an existing licensed patio or add a new one. ORHMA is now pursuing to make the extension of outdoor patios permanent.

16. ORHMA presents to Standing Committee on Financial and Economic Affairs

On Thursday, June 4, 2020, Tony Elenis, President & CEO of ORHMA, spoke to the Standing Committee on Finance & Economic Affairs on the Impact of COVID-19 to Ontario’s Tourism Sector. Recommendations included assistance with beverage alcohol pricing, expanding the qualification criteria for the Ontario Energy Rebate, and supporting positive changes to the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).

Then, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, Elenis spoke to the committee a second time on the Impact of COVID- 19 to the Small- & Medium-Sized Businesses of the Hospitality Industry. Issues discussed included Labour & Workforce, Rent, Property Tax, Beverage Alcohol Fees, Beverage Alcohol with Delivery and Take-Out, as well as Patio Extension.

15. ORHMA advocates for commercial rent eviction protection

ORHMA, along with other like-minded business associations, urgently asked the provincial government to protect small- and medium-sized businesses from evictions by putting in place temporary commercial eviction protection for tenants who were in good standing with their landlords prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government later announced proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act that would temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance.

14. COVID-19 ministerial sub-panel for the foodservice sector

In May 2020, ORHMA was asked to assemble a Foodservice Sector Sub-Panel to provide the government with recommendations in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry, including rent, beverage alcohol, red tape reduction, patio space expansion, and more.

13. $600M in relief to support Ontario businesses impacted by COVID-19 Public Health measures

The Ontario government began providing $600 million in relief to support eligible businesses required to close or significantly restrict services due to enhanced public health measures, doubling its initial commitment of $300 million made in the 2020 Budget.

12. Changes and extension to the CEWS

Canada increased the maximum rate of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to 75 per cent for the period beginning Dec. 20, 2020, and extended this rate until March 13, 2021.

11. CERS extended with additional support for those impacted by mandatory shutdowns

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a 65 per cent subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on Sept. 27, 2020, until June 2021. In addition, businesses who were impacted by government implemented shutdowns will be eligible to receive an additional 25 per cent subsidy.

10. Ontario releases 2020 Budget: Positive Impact to the Hospitality Industry

On Nov. 5, 2020, Ontario’s then-Minister of Finance, Hon. Rod Phillips, released the 2020 Ontario Provincial Budget, which ORHMA hailed for taking into account foodservice industry concerns.

9. Restaurants are NOT the issue

Hospitality owners, operators, managers and frontline employees feel that restaurants are being wrongly singled out as an active source of the virus outbreaks. Health officials view restaurants as a forum for gatherings where people meet and the outbreaks transpire, but accessible data does not demonstrate the outcomes to be originating in the restaurant environment. In fact, a recent report released by Science Table identifies only 7.1 per cent of outbreaks originated in restaurants and bars.

8. ORHMA launches DineSafe Guide

ORHMA and industry leaders, government agencies, technology experts, legal advisors, and key supply partners developed best practices to help guide foodservice personnel in a safe and successful reopening.

7. Open letter to Doug Ford to save Ontario restaurants

On behalf of Ontario’s vital foodservice sector, ORHMA initiated a collaborative letter to Premier Doug Ford calling for clear and transparent data to understand what is driving government decisions related to dining restrictions, consultation with industry to address any concerns identified by the data, the halting of system-wide closures, and highlighting of the significant investment in PPE and safety measures taken by foodservice operators across the province.

6. Adopting technology and tools to improve operations during COVID-19

ORHMA assembled a key list of steps that operators can take to provide a safe environment by adhering to guidelines, particularly relating to technological solutions.

5. Province proposes cap on delivery fees to support local restaurants

The Ontario government proposed and then introduced new legislation to curb the high delivery fees charged by third parties. The Supporting Local Restaurants Act 2020 capped fees charged by food delivery companies in areas where indoor dining is prohibited to help more small and independent restaurants stay in business. ORHMA had been challenging these fees and welcomed the legislation.

4. Hospitality industry businesses see support in Canada’s Fall Economic Statement

On Nov. 30, 2020, Canada’s Fall Economic Statement included support for the hospitality industry, including the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and an extension to the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) including rent support for those in control and lockdown areas.

3. Operating during COVID-19: rules and regulations explained

ORHMA built a dedicated page for outlining the rules and regulations in the COVID-19 Response Framework, including general public health measures that ALL businesses must adhere to regardless of the category they fall into.

2. Ontario permanently allows alcohol sales with food takeout and delivery

The Ontario government announced it is making the sale of alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders permanent. This was initially a temporary measure to support restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries that have been hit hard as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. ORHMA had been committed to advocating for this to be a permanent service.

1. ORHMA advocates for modifications to the COVID-19 Response Framework

ORHMA wrote to Premier Doug Ford on behalf of Ontario’s hospitality industry requesting modifications to the provinces COVID-19 Response Framework. In particular, it stressed that repercussions will occur unless additional funding relief is presented or modifications to the framework are introduced immediately.