VANCOUVER -- Restricted to takeout and delivery, almost one in 10 restaurants across the country have been forced to permanently close. That’s according to Restaurants Canada, who says 18 per cent more could shutter by the end of this month.

And that’s having a huge impact on jobs in the sector. According to a survey of its members, Restaurants Canada says about 121,500 people in British Columbia have lost food service jobs since the start of the pandemic. Nationwide, 80 per cent of restaurants have laid off staff since the beginning of March, and there are more cuts coming as the shutdown continues. 

The organization estimates 800,000 food service jobs have been lost across the country, and is calling for urgent relief for businesses as they attempt to weather closures that could continue for months. 

But the organization says it is working closely with government to push for rent relief for food service locations, access to working capital that will help them reopen when the time comes, and expanding the 75 per cent wage subsidy. 

While the subsidy isn’t yet available, it’s intended to enable businesses to hire back the staff they’ve laid off.

Those who are now on Employment Insurance or the CERB can move to the wage subsidy if their workplace re-hires them. With the company paying the remaining 25 per cent, employees would collect a full salary even if they aren’t working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

But Restaurants Canada’s Western Canada vice president says that’s not enough. 

“While our members appreciate the government relief measures announced so far, the reality is a growing portion of B.C. restaurateurs are considering permanent closure as they cannot pay their operating costs with no income,” Mark von Schellwitz said. “Urgent additional relief is required to help these businesses survive or there will be fewer jobs for the thousands of temporarily laid off restaurant employees to return to once social distancing measures are lifted.” 

With files from CTV News Vancouver's Shannon Paterson