TORONTO — The City of Toronto has made its CaféTO program permanent, as well as new amendments that offer a phased-in approach to the program’s participation fees.
When the city proposed changes to CaféTO last month, the amendments were met with concern by Restaurants Canada, BIAs and other stakeholders, as they failed to recognize the state of the foodservice sector. While most expected 2022 to welcome a rebound, restaurants struggled with crushing debt, labour shortages, supply-chain challenges and inflation. Together, these issues 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.
Restaurants Canada, as well as other organizations including the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), carried out a presentation before the executive committee on January 31, and the committee passed the mayor’s motion to provide options that address transition concerns for 2023. As a result, 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 re-building 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,” says Tracy Macgregor, VP of Ontario, Restaurants Canada. “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. Though we would have liked CaféTO fees deferred for another year to allow restaurants to get back on their feet, we will take [this] announcement as a win for Toronto restaurants.”