Good morning, Mr. Chair and members of the committee.
My name is Pierre Cadieux. I am the Vice President of Restaurants Canada for federal and Quebec government relations.
As part of this 2017 pre-budget consultation, it is my pleasure to speak on behalf of my association and answer your questions.
In doing this, I was to have been accompanied by my colleague Joyce Reynolds, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs. However, her flight from Toronto was cancelled.
In these brief introductory remarks, I would like to remind the honourable members about the importance of the restaurant and food service industry to Canada's economy.
Here are some key facts and figures I wish to bring to your attention.
As an industry, we are an integral part of every community, with 94,000 restaurants, bars, and caterers across the country. We account for $75 billion in annual sales, which represents 4% of our country's gross domestic product. We employ 1.2 million Canadians, which is 6.9% of the country's workforce. An additional 283,000 indirect jobs are supported by us in related industries. We purchase $25 billion in food and beverage products every year. There are 18 million visits to restaurants every day by Canadians.
Our industry is the source of first jobs for many Canadians. In fact, one in five young people between the ages of 15 and 24 is employed in our industry, and 22% of Canadians found their first job in our industry, which is the highest of any industry.
We also give back to communities, and we support many fundraising drives. In 2011, our industry contributed $277 million to various charities.
These few figures underline the importance of our industry having good relations and a solid partnership with the government of Canada, so that we can continue to create even more jobs.
In our pre-budget submission, we explained our issues and the opportunities for collaboration. We also presented an overview of our expectations and our concerns. Because we are a major employer, workforce issues are in the forefront.
We also want to tell the government that we support it, particularly in initiatives like thePrime Minister's initiatives relating to youth and the renewal of the federal tourism strategy, of which the unique and diverse culinary experience is an integral part.
Another area in which we intend to collaborate further, particularly with the Department of Finance, is in the area of credit card fees that our industry is unfairly burdened with. Since we submitted our brief, the Minister of Finance has announced a review of the voluntary fee reduction commitments by Visa and MasterCard. Although the government acknowledged the independent audit findings, and both companies met their voluntary commitments, the government has agreed to undertake a further review and assessment of the marketplace.
Restaurants Canada is particularly pleased that this assessment will include approaches in other jurisdictions, since Canada's interchange fees are up to five times higher than the fees in countries that have interchange fee caps in place. Restaurants Canada will be there to provide the industry's perspective and support in those consultations.
In our brief, we've identified opportunities for job creation in our industry by removing obstacles to growth. Let us remind the honourable members, in closing our opening remarks, of three such examples.
With interprovincial non-tariff barriers on alcohol, federal and provincial governments must consider the food service industry as much as individual consumers or customers when studying the commerce of alcohol. Freer interprovincial trade will lead to more competitively priced products, which would be a win for our customers and operators across the country.
For the reduction of the small and medium-sized business corporate tax rate, we asked the federal government to lower the tax rate from the existing 10.5% to 9%. This would have an immediate beneficial investment impact to maintain and grow employment as members invest in the future growth of their operations.
Finally, we asked that the government fulfill its campaign promise, as part of its youth strategy, for an employment insurance youth job credit or other payroll tax relief targeted to youth employment. As you know, we're a major source of first jobs for youth. By collaborating more closely with our industry to hire more youth by having fiscal incentives and tax credits, we can generate immediate impacts in youth job creation across the country.
This concludes our opening remarks. I look forward to your questions.