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British Columbia gets a C on 2019 Raise the Bar report card from Restaurants Canada

Good effort consulting industry, but wage changes could undo gains

/EIN News/ -- VICTORIA, British Columbia, Sept. 10, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the third time since 2015, Restaurants Canada has taken stock of liquor policies impacting foodservice and hospitality businesses from coast to coast in its biennial Raise the Bar report.

Once again, British Columbia has received a C. The report outlines the reasons for this grade and provides a path forward for the province to improve its standing.

“British Columbia has a good chance of improving its ranking if the province acts on recommendations that it has sought out from industry stakeholders over the past two years,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada Vice President, Western Canada. “But plans to phase out the liquor server wage in 2021 could end up making operational realities more difficult for bars and restaurants in the future.”

Full 2019 Raise the Bar report card rankings:

Grade Province
B Alberta
B- Nova Scotia
B- Prince Edward Island
B- Quebec
C British Columbia
C Manitoba
C- Ontario
C- Saskatchewan
D- New Brunswick
D- Newfoundland & Labrador

Labour pains could be a buzz kill

While hopes are high that the B.C. government will follow through with recommended improvements to the province’s liquor system, bar and restaurant operators are now facing another challenge all together: Plans to phase out the liquor server wage by 2021 threaten to undercut their ability to allocate sufficient resources towards non-gratuity earning kitchen staff, who are typically harder to attract and retain. Reversing this decision would provide more flexibility for licensed establishments who are already struggling to compete for back-of-house employees amid rising labour shortages.

Survey says…

Compared to two years ago, licensed foodservice operators in British Columbia say liquor policies are:

Better The same Worse
15% 37% 49%

How can British Columbia raise the bar for licensed establishments?

  1. Make wholesale pricing available to all liquor licensees, for all types of beverage alcohol products. Currently only restaurateurs in Alberta and on Prince Edward Island have access to discounted wholesale pricing on wine, spirits and beer. Meanwhile, bar and restaurant operators in British Columbia pay more than retail customers for beverage alcohol. The province still controls the distribution of liquor to licensed establishments in this province, shutting foodservice and hospitality businesses out from wholesale pricing while offering them poor service and a limited selection of products.
  2. Permit licensee-to-licensee sales. Bars and restaurants are currently not permitted to purchase liquor from private retailers, limiting their ability to offer a wider selection of products.
  3. Continue to modernize liquor legislation to cut red tape and reflect changing market conditions. It’s time to update rules that are out of step with modern business practices.
  4. Allow all types of liquor licensees to sell alcohol for off-site consumption. Why should restaurateurs who are trained and trusted to serve alcoholic beverages within their establishments be restricted from selling those same products to their customers to enjoy off-site?
  5. Preserve the liquor server wage. A wage differential for tipped workers allows restaurateurs to allocate more towards higher wages for non-gratuity earning kitchen staff, who are typically harder to attract and retain.
  6. Reduce excessive markups on beverage alcohol products. The amount of tax collected on liquor in Canada is among the highest in the world. Across the country, a cocktail of federal and provincial taxes and fees currently make up: Nearly 50 per cent of the cost of beer; between 65 and 70 per cent of the final price of wine; and up to 80 per cent of the cost of spirits.

Visit info.restaurantscanada.org/raise-the-bar-2019 to download the full report and join in the online conversation with the hashtag #RaiseTheBar2019.

About Raise the Bar

Raise the Bar is a report produced every two years by Restaurants Canada evaluating the impact of liquor policies on bars and restaurants across the country.

Provincial policies evaluated for the 2019 Raise the Bar report were reviewed within the following four major categories and, after analysis and weighting, each province was given an overall letter grade:

  1. Pricing and Selection
  2. Licensing and Regulation
  3. Customer Sales
  4. Political/Regulatory Activity

All survey results featured in the 2019 Raise the Bar report were compiled from more than 700 responses to an online questionnaire that was emailed to foodservice operators across Canada between June 12 and Aug. 26, 2019.

About Restaurants Canada

Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit association advancing the potential of Canada’s diverse and dynamic foodservice industry through member programs, research, advocacy, resources and events. Canada’s foodservice sector is an $89 billion industry that directly employs 1.2 million workers, is Canada’s number one source of first jobs and serves 22 million customers across the country every day.

Attachment

Marlee Wasser
                    Restaurants Canada
                    416-649-4254
                    media@restaurantscanada.org
                    
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