The Ontario Restaurant, Hotel & Motel Association (ORHMA) is urging the province to cut Ontario beverage alcohol pricing to support the province’s foodservice and hospitality establishments.
Back in the summer of 2020, British Columbia announced it would allow restaurants to purchase liquor at wholesale prices. That move has been credited with reducing alcohol costs by up to 25 per cent for licensed businesses, allowing profit margins to be boosted at a critical time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tony Elenis, ORHMA President & CEO, has called for Ontario to make a similar move in the association’s response to Ontario’s 2021 Pre-Budget Consultation.
Speaking on behalf of Ontario’s hospitality industry, ORHMA emphasized that the hospitality sector has been devastated during this crisis.
An ORHMA release says hotels are down close to 70 per cent in revenues, full-service Restaurants are down by nearly 50 per cent, and close to 30 per cent of all hotel and restaurant workers have yet to return to work.
“Ontario should follow the lead of British Columbia and support Ontario’s licensees by reducing beverage alcohol pricing by 20 per cent,” said ORHMA. “This is ethical, tangible and measurable right to the bottom line where it is desperately needed. It is a lifeline.”
A Call to Action
In tandem with Elenis’ statement, the association has launched an official Call to Action for the industry.
“There is no doubt food and beverage operations need a lifeline to be able to endure the painful journey that lies ahead,” says the Call. “For the approximately 17,000 food and beverage establishments operating in Ontario, this lifeline can be found in Beverage Alcohol pricing. A reduction here is tangible, measurable and will float directly to an operator’s bottom line where the need desperately exists.
“During these critical times, a reduction to Beverage Alcohol pricing will directly flow to a restaurant’s bottom line and will have a significant impact on the weak profit margins experienced by Ontario’s foodservice operations, which currently represent the lowest in Canada.
“By using the recommendations listed below, we are asking that you write to your local MPP to ask for the reduction of Beverage Alcohol pricing be included in the 2021 Province Budget. A list of Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) is available to search for an MPP in your riding. A sample letter has been included for your review should you require further information, content or statistics for your letter.”
Further supports needed
In addition, the association has called for the implementation of a workable formula for property tax payments. “Owners need cash adjustments and need it now.” It also urged government legislation for a retroactive assessment of hospitality properties to capture the depressed business revenues of 2020.
This past week, ORHMA sent out a survey on mental health support and found that 94 per cent of its members stated their concerns for their employees.
ORHMA has launched a series of free mental health webinars this month for people in the industry who may be affected.
The association has also called for Ontario to reverse its decision to omit hotels from the province’s Business Relief Support or Small Business Support Grant.