Mark Saunders Will Drop CafeTO Fees for Small Businesses

"It’s important that we do our part to help restaurants strengthen their businesses, keep their employees, and create a welcoming environment for residents to enjoy our great city." - Mark Saunders

Toronto – Today, Mark Saunders announced he will immediately drop this year’s CafeTO fees if elected as Mayor to provide real relief to small businesses.

Toronto’s foodservice community is one of the city’s largest and most diverse employers. The industry was hit hard by the COVID pandemic and it’s still struggling to recover, while at the same time being confronted by a host of other issues. As Mayor, Mark Saunders will help champion the industry as one that is vital for the continued vibrancy and sustainability of Toronto’s food scene.

Restaurants are at a tipping point with record debt load, exponential rising costs for food, labour shortages, insurance, rents, interest and utilities. Work from home has changed the patterns and habits of consumers and restaurants across the city and neighbourhood main streets are struggling to adjust to this new reality.

“What struck me when speaking to restaurant owners, is the extent to which they are also impacted by Toronto’s safety and mental health crisis,” said Saunders. “One of my own kids worked at a restaurant and I know for many youth, it’s often their very first job. As Mayor, my focus on public safety will keep restaurants safe for workers and guest, which in turn will help them to keep moving forward during these challenging times.”

As Mayor, Saunders would do the following to support economic recovery for restaurants:

  • Waive this year’s application and permit fees for the CafeTO program.
  • Reduce red tape by simplifying the application process for CafeTO. The current process is slow, burdensome and confusing.
  • Look at ongoing ways to advance the program's transition from a temporary pandemic initiative to a sustainable and permanent one that transforms city streets without impacting the operations of other nearby businesses along with traffic flow.
  • Promote Toronto’s restaurants and neighbourhoods by working collaboratively with the restaurant sector as well as local Business Improvement Areas (BIAs).