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Restaurants Canada President’s End of Year Message for 2021: What does the future hold for Canada’s foodservice industry?


As 2020 comes to a close, the team at Restaurants Canada is looking forward to the new year.  Frontline health care workers and long-term care residents receiving the COVID-19 vaccination represent a light at the end of a long tunnel, but the reality for our industry is that we are still many months away from a ‘post-COVID’ world. That being said, the new year remains for me, a time to be optimistic and to celebrate. Celebrate not just the end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021, but the stories of resilience and hope that came out of 2020.

Restaurant closures across Canada were devastating and disheartening to say the least. Community institutions shuttered their doors to the dismay of neighbourhoods everywhere. Nevertheless, many of these same operators have since – to use what is now a cliche – pivoted, to reinvent themselves. At the height of the pandemic, we saw over 800,000 foodservice staff lose their jobs. However, through initiatives like the Bartenders Benevolent Fund, and many other local initiatives through communities across Canada we saw how our industry took it upon itself to help our own community. As a representative of the ‘voice of the foodservice industry’, I am very proud of our hardworking, resilient, creative, and talented Restaurants Canada members.

We’ve also seen restaurants and hospitality venues lending a hand to those in need. Many restaurants offered meals free of charge to frontline workers and others produced meals to be delivered to those in need or donated unused goods to food banks.

In my opinion, it’s this generous spirit that makes the foodservice industry so special and part of what makes restaurants so integral to local communities. This message is at the heart of our recently-launched ‘Picture life without restaurants’ Campaign. The Campaign calls on consumers to imagine a world where their local “go-to” restaurants for dinner dates, birthdays, and celebrations no longer exist and asks them to pledge their support to help spread awareness of what we are all at risk of losing. 

Our team proudly released a public service announcement (PSA) across Canada as part of the ‘Picture life without restaurants’ Campaign which can be viewed in its entirety below:

The PSA is accompanied by the website where consumers can learn more, take the pledge, and where restaurant operators are invited to download the toolkit with digital assets that can be leveraged across their platforms to aid in amplifying the campaign using the #RestaurantsAreFamily hashtag.

Along with these consumer-focused efforts, our team continues to be at the table with all levels of government advocating on your behalf. This December, Restaurants Canada held a virtual press conference to discuss the current viability of restaurant operations, anticipated closures and job losses, challenges ahead on the road to recovery, and the need for coordinated national action to take the industry from survival to revival.

In this virtual conference, Restaurants Canada called for a national working group to focus on the following key areas in support of the foodservice sector’s revival:

  • Mechanisms for timely consultation on COVID-19 related aid measures
  • Joint communications materials and campaigns to reassure Canadians that restaurants provide safe and reliable meal options and promote takeout and delivery
  • Coordinated action on key issues of concern for foodservice businesses to develop and implement solutions over the short, medium and long term

To learn more about the national working group and the virtual press conference, head over here.

As we move forward, we are also excited to once again come together for the RC Show. Like many other things, it may not look the same as last year, but RC Show 2021 ONLINE LIVE aims to reunite the industry and prepare businesses for what lies ahead while introducing a new three-year international buyers program that will bring influential speakers and buyers from around the world to do business and help the industry recover.

From February 28 – March 3, the 2021 RC Show will expand to four action-packed days to allow for more solution-based content, aligned with smaller experiential RC Hospitality Week events – all designed to support one of the hardest-hit sectors of the Canadian economy. 

With a lineup of incredible and insightful content, the RC Show is brought to life (in your home) through augmented reality technology. Attendees can virtually meet and network, and even shop the show floor of 3D booths. Learn more about what you can expect from the show here.

We are a resilient industry, and while the future is still uncertain, I feel strongly that our guests are looking forward to coming back and enjoying the experiences of restaurants again soon. This year has not been easy in numerous ways, however we can rebuild and we will be able to leverage our learnings from 2020 to be even stronger going forward. Your team at Restaurants Canada is privileged to represent the industry and will continue to actively advocate on your behalf.  All my best for a happy, healthy and prosperous 2021.

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