Government, Toronto, Claire discussed on The Big Story
I remember clearly the last restaurant I sat down and ate a meal and I was going to say here that I wish it had been fancier but I really don't. It was a classic Burger Place near my house. Not a fast food chain like a real Dina and it was greasy and full of cheese and I had a double with everything on it. The fries were crispy an amazing. The Fountain drinks were bottomless. The decor was the decor. But whatever and man I would pay double more than what I paid for that meal to have it again right now claire. Why don't you tell me about your last outside world meal because I'm hungry and literally all I have is a a frozen pizza in the oven upstairs in the last meal that I had? That wasn't at my house was a breakfast sandwich. And a coffee from this great little spot just at the corner of my street and I'm just GONNA say it. They have probably the best breakfast sandwich in the city and they also have the best coffee I was there about mid March and maybe a week later they were closed. Their patio was taken down and now they have a sign on their door to actually discourage people from breaking in it says they have no money and no food inside. And that's where we're at with these places right now in that place which by the way only has the second best breakfast sandwiches in Toronto. 'cause my place has beat okay. But them and the Burger place near my house are the exact kind of establishment that it really hurts me to say. This might already begun forever. And if they're not they might easily be gone by the time. This is all over. Yeah I take walks every day and sometimes I walk along the busy strips in Toronto Bloor Street or college and those are full of bars and restaurants and cafes and it's heartbreaking to walk along them now and see all the signs and the doors with their own versions of due to cove in nineteen were closed until further notice some of them are offering takeout but a lot of them are just closed completely and the. I can't help but wonder how. And if they'll be able to come back from all of this and I think everybody's neighborhood looks like that right now and you know if you listen to this podcast you know that. Various levels of government are offering various forms of help to people in businesses that are impacted by this crisis and look by government standards. They've moved pretty damn fast on that too. Many people and Businesses. That is a godsend but to local independent restaurants. Like the ones. We're talking about here. It's not a godsend. It's nowhere near enough. So those businesses have banded together to ask for what they say they need if they're gonNA survive this and since I'm pretty sure that we want them to survive this because I don't know what my neighborhood would look like without them today. We're going to let them tell you. Why local restaurants are different from other businesses? And what happens to them when any kind of crisis like this headstone and what they're landscape will look like whenever we get the all clear to hopefully open things up and so we'll have somebody do that as soon as we bring you the news? Claire can you help us there? Well Ontario Premier Doug Ford says his patience is running thin when it comes to the provinces lag in testing for covert nineteen. It's unacceptable. We have the capacity now before I understand. We didn't have the region we didn't have all the testing. We have the testing capabilities. We have the assessment centers Capabilities the days are done of these two and three thousand a day being tested and moving forward moving forward. We need to see thirteen thousand tests every single day provinces like Quebec British Columbia and Alberta are all testing at double Ontario's rate a more provinces have been learning how this epidemic might unfold for them new modeling released in Saskatchewan shows an expected three thousand to eighty three hundred deaths and in Alberta. It's believed the outbreak will peak mid May and that the province could see as many as eight hundred thousand cases with the deaths ranging between four hundred to thirty one hundred last month air. Canada laid off sixteen thousand five hundred employees. They said it was a temporary layoff and now it looks like they're staying true to their word and already rehiring most of those people. Thanks to the government's emergency wage subsidy program at that's expected to last until at least June six Air Canada also says it has reduced its seat capacity by eighty five to ninety percent as of Wednesday evening in Canada nineteen thousand two hundred ninety one cases of covert nineteen with four hundred and seventy six deaths. I'm Jordan Heath Rawlings and this is the big story John. Synoptic is a Toronto restaurant owner and also the CO organizer of Save Hospitality Dot CA. I John Hello my first question for you is just how are you doing? How are you getting on well Bearing ourselves in government lobbying and and trying to push our agenda forward in order to do our best to save the industry that we care so much about so haven't really thought too much about the actual personal consequences down the road that are very possible as we all are trying to avoid The anxiety the uncertainty that comes with that but Really just like not sitting in our hands not sitting idle getting to work helping our community and then also doing our best to Save as many jobs as possible in our industry and we'll get to what you're doing to save those jobs and what kind of help you need. But first why don't you just tell me how the situation unfolded for you at your restaurants while this virus spread? When did you first start seeing it? What were the ramifications? When did you realize Oh crap this is going to get bad? I guess the beginning of March we started to see reports of it being in other countries other than China and spreading around getting bad in Italy Iran. And then we said Oh. Wow like this could really affect our society and in it does that will. It's GonNa destroy our business before anyone else's and so started really thinking hard about that and in and by the second week of March we saw our sales start to drop precipitously probably did about fifty percent of our normal sales at all of our locations that second week of March and by the end of that week we come to the conclusion that the right thing to do was to close That our staff didn't feel safe. We didn't feel safe serving customers No matter what protocols you took everyone seemed to be at risk. If you're in the same room so after March fifteenth to believe a Saturday night service we made the decision to close all of our within twelve hours. A close all of our locations Sales it also just like disappeared like we were dropping. Reservations like crazy So it didn't make financial sense. It'd be open but it also didn't sense in terms of the safety of our staff in our customers to be open either and then twenty four hours a reeling from that decision. And what do we do Monday? The Sixteenth Seventeenth Forget. What be that was. We laid off all ninety seven employees. There was a difficult day given been in business for over fifteen years and we've had some employees with us just as long We've never laid off anybody Yes very trying times and I got home that night and that money night and kind of commiserated with my partner and I said like I don't know what to do here and What is the government going to do to help us? And who knows and Kinda got in touch with them. A couple of friends of mine who are close to government lobbyists. They work in that world and I said what are you hearing? And they said they're hearing that nobody knows what to do that. government is all ears that they're listening to industry for looking for solutions that these are very uncommon times and the he said like put down your asks in a letter and sent it to me and I'll put it in the rain inboxes so I started along that process. Can you explain for me a little bit in for for other people who aren't familiar with the industry how the business model for independent restaurants works and how the margins are and why this crisis is so bad particularly for independent businesses in the hospitality industry? Yeah I'm glad you asked that because a lot of people say well. The government's giving seventy five percent wage subsidy and they're giving you forty thousand dollar. You know.