Ford government minister no-show at meeting with restaurant industry leaders

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Restaurants and bars have been left out of the list of places that are allowed to operate at full capacity again and the industry was expecting a reply on Tuesday.

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But their hopes were dashed when a minister in the Ford government did not attend a government meeting.

The restaurant industry says it was told over the weekend that minister Lisa McLeod would hold a meeting Tuesday morning to find a way forward, but 680NEWS has learned the minister did not show up.

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“Unfortunately there was no cabinet representation” said James Rilett, Central Canada’s vice president for Restaurants Canada. “We were not given any justification for the decision and only had a commitment to work on a plan. Industry leaders on the call were angry and extremely disappointed”

680NEWS reached out to Minister McLeod’s office for comment and responded that the minister was at the Ottawa Hospital, which is planning a new civic campus pending Ottawa City’s expected Wednesday.

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“Minister McLeod has made himself available to stakeholders during the pandemic, including an ongoing restaurant working group, 14 ministerial advisory committees and several dozen town halls and webinars. The ministry organized a meeting on Tuesday morning for the Restaurant Working Group comprising senior leadership from the Minister’s Office, the Health Minister’s Office and the Premier’s Office to give them the earliest opportunity to respond to the government. “The minister will continue to bring stakeholder feedback to the chief medical officer of McLeod Health, as he has done since the start of the pandemic.”

Anger erupted from the bar and restaurant industry on Friday over the decision to eliminate capacity limits for sporting events, concerts, venues and other venues, but not for bars and restaurants. As of now, eateries have had to comply with social distancing requirements, which means operating at 50% or less capacity for many locations.

“I know people are very, very upset that this decision was taken,” NDP leader Andrea Horvath said.

When asked, Minister Rod Phillips said on Tuesday that “the decision around the ability for people to attend stadiums and other venues was made in cooperation with the Chief Medical Officer. We will continue to work closely with him.”

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