TORONTO — McDonald’s Canada has unveiled an initiative to invest approximately $1 billion to transform more than 1,400 restaurants across Canada. Plans call for new interior and exterior designs, including fireplaces, flat-screen televisions, changes to the kitchen layout and new food equipment.

“This is a pivotal time for McDonald’s, and we’re placing unwavering focus on transforming the face of our brand,” said John Betts, president and chief executive officer of McDonald’s Canada. “Strong and sustained business results have put us in a unique position to make this historic investment in improving restaurant ambiance, enhancing service and supporting our continued menu evolution.”

In addition to some of the physical changes, McDonald’s detailed plans to enhance customer service, particularly in the areas of speed and quality of service. A new front counter service platform is expected to provide seamless integration between the point-of-sale and the food preparation area, ensuring improved order accuracy and allowing for increased engagement between McDonald’s employees and customers. The addition of double-lane drive-throughs, in many re-imaged locations, eases line-ups inside and outside restaurants and speeds up overall service, the company said.

“McDonald’s is changing as our customers’ needs are changing, and we’re committed like never before to staying connected and relevant to them,” Betts said. “We believe we’re pulling all the right levers to remain a compelling and favorite dining destination for a growing number of Canadian customers, now and into the future.”

More than half of the company’s restaurants will have been re-imaged by the end of this year, with plans to have the majority of the remaining restaurants transformed by the end of 2012.

McDonald’s Restaurants of Canada Ltd. and its Canadian franchisees own and operate more than 1,400 restaurants and employ more than 80,000 Canadians. Approximately 75 percent of McDonald’s Canadian restaurants are locally owned and operated by independent entrepreneurs.