Cooks, nurses and Santas in shortage of shopping malls across Canada – Channels Television

A sign looking for employees is seen on the Le Tolédon bakery in Montreal, Quebec, November 11, 2021. Anne-Sophie THILL / AFP

Signs of an unprecedented labor shortage in Canada are glaring: Hospital emergency rooms are closed due to a lack of nurses, restaurants that skip meals and fewer Santa Claus in shopping centers.

In Ottawa, a “Help Wanted” notice in the window of Corazon De Maiz restaurant – like those in storefronts across Canada – has gone largely unanswered since the recent lifting of public health restrictions introduced 19 ago. months to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

The end of the Covid-19 lockdowns drew crowds of customers to the capital’s restaurant, but with kitchen staffs declining, the restaurant has been unable to meet demand for burritos and tacos.

“We are suddenly busier, but we have to close early because my wife and I are exhausted from working all day,” owner Eric Igari told AFP.

A new recruit worked three hours and quit, saying the work was too hard for insufficient pay, Igari said.

“We asked some friends to join in, and even a few repeat customers offered to help,” Igari said. Two clients actually worked a few shifts.

READ ALSO: Canada detects first cases of Omicron variant in two travelers from Nigeria

No ‘ho ho ho’

A sign saying “sorry, employee shortage” outside La Panthère Verte restaurant in Montreal, Quebec, taken on November 11, 2021. Anne-Sophie THILL / AFP

Studies by government and industry associations have found that up to two-thirds of Canadian businesses face a labor shortage and say the deficit is limiting their growth.

The sectors most affected are health care, food service, manufacturing and construction.

According to the latest news from Statistics Canada, there were a total of 1,014,600 vacant positions in September, including 196,100 in food services and 131,200 in health care, double the number of two years ago. .

Trevin Stratton, partner at Deloitte Canada, said factors contributing to the shortfall include an aging population leaving the workforce and weaker recent immigration due to travel restrictions – which Canada lifted in September.

Some industries are adapting through the use of technologies such as increased automation in manufacturing, e-commerce in retail, or the ability for staff to work from home.

But in others, “many workers don’t necessarily yet feel comfortable working in a location where their physical presence is required,” Stratton said.

This is especially true in the restaurant industry, which has also lost workers fed up with the cycle of closings and reopens throughout the pandemic. “They are now looking for more stability,” Stratton said.

A few weeks before Christmas, the trend has also had an impact on the supply of Santa Claus actors usually hired for photos with children kneeling in malls or professional mixers.

Jeff Gilroy of Just Be Claus said he turned down 200 Santa concerts in Ontario. After the ban on large gatherings last Christmas, he told AFP, “people are looking to have a Santa Claus to make Christmas more festive.”

Catherine Lacasse of the Professional Santa Claus Agency of Quebec said that her province has many Santa Claus, “but we are struggling to find enough elves.”

Nurses burnout

“In health care, we’ve seen an exodus, especially of nurses this year,” Stratton said. “Part of it has to do with the stress of work at the moment. “

Lachine Hospital in Montreal was forced to close its emergency room overnight due to a “critical shortage of nurses,” spokeswoman Gilda Salomone said.

Several others, she said, “are experiencing a serious labor shortage which limits the quality and access to care”.

Observers have suggested simply increasing wages to attract workers.

But Jasmin Guenette of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said this “is not an option for many small businesses still struggling to recoup losses from the pandemic.”

“We’re seeing things slowly returning to normal, going out to restaurants, for example, and we think that means businesses are doing well. But this is not the case. The impact of the pandemic has been severe and is still being felt, ”he said.

According to a CFIB survey, the average small business in Canada accumulated CAN $ 170,000 (US $ 135,000) in debt during the pandemic. And around 180,000 businesses, or one in six, are now “at risk of closing”.

The restaurant Chez Mère-Grand in Montreal searched for 21 weeks to hire a cook and a barista. Its owner Romain Beiso explained that the hiring pool is smaller because many people now insist on a better work-life balance and job security that can be found in other sectors.

“Our salaries are not competitive because we cannot afford it,” he also acknowledged.

At the Hôtel Place d’Armes, director Benoit Pretet is worried about a shortage of 25 employees as the end of the year holidays approach.

“The clientele is back,” he says, “but we cannot open all of our rooms.


Karl M. Bailey