City of Toronto Makes CaféTO Permanent and Introduces a Phased-in Approach to Fees

Restaurants Canada appreciates the City’s support for popular restaurant patio program CaféTO, and for struggling Toronto restaurants

Toronto, Feb. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The program which served as a lifeline for Toronto restaurants throughout the course of the pandemic, and now a newfound love of locals and tourists, has officially been made permanent, along with new amendments that offer a phased-in approach to CaféTO’s participation fees.

Last month, Toronto proposed changes to the CaféTO program that were brought forward in a staff report to the Executive Committee. The proposed amendments were met with concern by Restaurants Canada, BIAs and other stakeholders, as they failed to recognize the state of the foodservice sector. The industry was of the hardest hit by the pandemic, and while most expected 2022 to welcome a rebound, restaurants struggled with crushing debt, labour shortages, supply chain challenges and inflation. These together have resulted in 50 per cent of restaurants currently operating at a loss or just breaking even and 54 per cent of foodservice operators in Ontario seeing 2022 bring a lower financial performance than that of 2021.

In response to a presentation made by Restaurants Canada, and by other organizations including the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), in front of the Executive Committee on January 31st, the committee passed the Mayor’s motion to provide options that address transition concerns for 2023. As a result, yesterday, Toronto’s City Council adopted the recommendations made by Restaurants Canada to keep the CaféTO program affordable to lessen financial pressures on businesses and allow Toronto restaurants to keep rebuilding post-pandemic.

CaféTO's fees have now been significantly reduced to approximately one-third of the program's proposed amount, with plans to phase in additional fees by one-third year over year until 2025.

“We are thankful for the efforts of City staff, the Mayor and Council who heard the concerns of our industry stakeholders and brought forth a phased approach to significantly reduce the financial impact of the proposed changes to CaféTO. For many restaurants, CaféTO still serves as an emergency response initiative helping to support the devastating financial impact of the pandemic on operators, so it is imperative that the program remain affordable” said Tracy Macgregor, VP of Ontario for Restaurants Canada. “Though we would have liked CaféTO fees deferred for another year to allow restaurants to get back on their feet, we will take yesterday’s announcement as a win for Toronto restaurants” added Macgregor.

Restaurants Canada welcomed yesterday’s announced changes to the program as the lowered fees will ensure CaféTO remains a practical investment local restaurants can participate in to not only drive revenue, but continue to add to the character and vibrancy of many of Toronto’s neighbourhoods.

To learn more about the challenges restaurants in Canada are currently facing, visit ontheirplate.ca.

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About Restaurants Canada
Restaurants Canada is a national, not-for-profit member-based trade 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 a $95 billion industry that serves 22 million customers across the country every day. As the fourth-largest private-sector employer, Canadian foodservice directly employs 1.2 million people, and indirectly supports another 290,000+ jobs in related industries, with $32 billion in food and beverage products purchased every year. www.restaurantscanada.org

CONTACT: Tianna Goguen Restaurants Canada media@restaurantscanada.org