When restaurant owners and staff didn't like what Quebec City was serving

Restaurant owners and their wait staff didn't like what was being served up by Quebec's National Assembly.

Law making restaurant owners keep track of tips wasn't popular with them or their staff

Restaurateurs and staff 'strike' for a day

39 years ago
Duration 1:46
A day-long protest saw Quebec restaurateurs and their staff shut down restaurants for one day in 1984.

Restaurant owners and their wait staff didn't like what was being served up by Quebec's National Assembly.

In 1984, a new law was requiring the owners to keep track of the tips their employees received and then, accordingly, to make deductions on their paycheques.

Those owners didn't want to do that work and their staff didn't want to report those tips.

That spurred the two groups to stage a one-day demonstration on March 13, 1984, one that drew broad enough support to leave two-thirds of the province's 13,000 restaurants closed until the supper hour that day.

The National's Tom Kennedy is seen interviewing a woman who was among the protesters headed to the lawn of the National Assembly on March 13, 1984. (The National/CBC Archives)

A protest on the lawn of the National Assembly drew 1,500 participants, according to what The Globe and Mail reported the next day.

"Well, I don't like the idea of what they're doing to us," said one protester who spoke to The National, as she and other restaurateurs and servers were riding a bus to the site of the protest.

'Tips are going to be taxed'

Both restaurant owners and their wait staff were upset with the Quebec government's decision to make restaurateurs keep track of employee tips and make payroll deductions accordingly. (The National/CBC Archives)

Legislators in Quebec City were listening to what the servers and owners were dishing out, apparently.

"The owners say one day and one demonstration is enough and they may be right," the CBC's Tom Kennedy reported on The National.

"Tips are going to be taxed, that's not going to change. The owners just don't want to have to be the ones to keep track of it all and this afternoon, the government said it's ready to negotiate that point."

Indeed, the Quebec government later made changes to the legislation so that restaurant owners did not have to keep tabs on their employees' tips, according to what The Canadian Press reported later that year.