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Canada Labour shortages, closed borders major obstacles to B.C. restaurant, tourism restarts

03:25  16 june  2021
03:25  16 june  2021 Source:   thecanadianpress.com

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To combat B . C .’s labor shortage , restaurateurs need to find ways to reduce employee turnover and change their hiring strategy. Some have even been forced to close their doors for good. But while the province’s low unemployment rate seems the most likely cause of the labor shortage , it’s only half the story. In B . C ., a high cost of living, low wages, and a challenging work environment have also contributed to the widening employment gap – a gap that is expected to be 300,000 workers short in the next 10 years.

A shortage of drivers has even triggered calls for the Army to be put on standby to make food deliveries to convenience stores, pubs restaurants and even care homes. Its members supply food and drink to independent shops, restaurants , pubs, hotels, care homes and other caterers. Mr Bielby said: ‘The product manufacturers who supply into the wholesale channel have similar issues with drivers, and our members reporting particular difficulties getting soft drinks, beer, and chilled products like cream, cheese, yoghurt and meats.’

VICTORIA — Progressive easing of pandemic health restrictions in British Columbia are welcome steps to bring back normal life, but tourism and restaurant sector representatives say operators face daunting COVID-19 related barriers of worker shortages and border closures.

a group of people standing in front of a building © Provided by The Canadian Press

The shortage of labour in B.C. and the closed border between Canada and the United States will hinder the restart effort despite fewer health restrictions, restaurant and tourism industry spokesmen said Tuesday.

Walt Judas, CEO of the Tourism Industry Association of B.C., said the industry lost billions of dollars in revenues over the past 16 months and it won't start to recover until international travellers can visit.

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Tourism and Culture Minister Melanie Mark is urging British Columbians to consider planning weeklong trips with the province to help support local operators that have been hit hard by restrictions over the past year-plus. The reopening of nightclubs is not on the table until at least July 1 with the potential arrival of Stage 3. Despite B . C . transitioning to Stage 2, the state of the province’s cruise industry remains in a precarious position with international borders still restricted and cruise ships banned from docking in Canada until February 2022.

Tourism and Culture Minister Melanie Mark is urging British Columbians to consider planning weeklong trips with the province to help support local operators that have been hit hard by restrictions over the past year-plus. The reopening of nightclubs is not on the table until at least July 1 with the potential arrival of Stage 3. Despite B . C . transitioning to Stage 2, the state of the province’s cruise industry remains in a precarious position with international borders still restricted and cruise ships banned from docking in Canada until February 2022.

The industry is calling on the federal government to move quickly to reopen the border to bring U.S. and international tourists to B.C., he said.

"It cannot come soon enough," said Judas.

Before the pandemic, tourism in B.C. generated about $21.5 billion in revenue, but data for 2020 indicates the number dropped to less than $7 billion, he said.

"If we could start with the United States and progress from there, that's really where the industry needs to be in fairly short order," said Judas. "We can't afford another summer with only domestic visitation because it doesn't pay the bill."

Premier John Horgan said he expects the border opening issue to be raised Thursday during the weekly call between the premiers and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

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· Some restaurant managers indicated that they had to close down for one shift (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or had to shut down for one extra day per week due to a shortage of servers and/or cooks. Analysis Assuming No Labour Shortages Benchmarking the tourism industry’s contributions to the BC economy assuming minimal labour shortages was the first task of the analysis. Measures of tourism contributions to the BC economy went further than the direct effects and included indirect and induced impacts.

Labour shortages and a decline in productivity have hit the mining sector with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry pointing the finger at border closures . Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Jenny Lambert told Sky News, the closure of international borders has affected the mining sector’s ability to “supplement the labour force” with overseas workers. “Without that migration coming in we’ve lost of course international students, which were a source of casual and seasonal labour , as well as working holiday-makers,” she said.

B.C. lifted recreational travel restrictions from within the province Tuesday as part of its four-step reopening plan that aims for a return to normal pre-pandemic life without masks and limits on gatherings after Labour Day.

Ian Tostenson, B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association president, said the industry is gearing up for a full reopening without restrictions, but is facing a reduced workforce.

Restaurants, pubs and bars employed an estimated 190,000 people prior to the pandemic, but the industry is bracing for a loss of about 40,000 people over the past 16 months, he said.

"It's all about labour," said Tostenson. "It's a real problem. It's going to be a real struggle."

He said many people left the industry to find more secure work as restaurants cut staff or closed during the pandemic. Others decided not to work in an industry where they were not comfortable interacting directly with the public during a pandemic, Tostenson said.

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exercise known as the ‘Cross Border Review’, towards difficulties linked to labour mobility. and is in fact one of its three pillars. The Cross across borders , taxation and accessibility. CHAPTER 3 Obstacles encountered. One of the most important objectives of the online public consultation was to collect views on border obstacles , as well as suggestions on how to overcome them. Therefore, those questions asking respondents to identify relevant obstacles in their region are particularly ­important.

· Some restaurant managers indicated that they had to close down for one shift (breakfast, lunch or dinner) or had to shut down for one extra day per week due to a shortage of servers and/or cooks. Analysis Assuming No Labour Shortages Benchmarking the tourism industry’s contributions to the BC economy assuming minimal labour shortages was the first task of the analysis. Measures of tourism contributions to the BC economy went further than the direct effects and included indirect and induced impacts.

He said many restaurants are being forced to examine their opening hours and are paring down their menus due to fewer workers as the province allows for more freedoms.

Tostenson said he expected a hot job market for potential restaurant employees this summer. He suggested potential employees apply in person.

"These (employers) are not sitting at the back looking at banks of computers," Tostenson said. "Go there, look good, put a smile on your face and say you want a job. Chances are you'll be hired."

The B.C. government announced Tuesday those restaurants and bars that were temporarily allowed to serve liquor on outdoor patios areas could apply to keep them permanently.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says in a news release temporary patios helped the businesses during the pandemic and the government plans to make them part of a long-term recovery plan.

Brian Richmond, artistic director at Victoria's Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre, said he's delighted at the prospect of a return to live theatre even if it's only 50 people in the theatre to start.

"The performing arts will always be a challenge," said Richmond, whose theatre company plans to stage Newfoundland playwright David French's play "Salt Water Moon" as its first production next month.

"The performing arts have been particularly hard hit. Just as a sector, we need your support right now," he said.

Step two of B.C.'s four-step reopening plan permits indoor gatherings of a maximum of 50 people and extends the cutoff of alcohol sales at restaurants, pubs and bars to midnight.

Step three, due July 1, includes optional mask wearing, spectators at indoor sports events and an increase in capacity at indoor gatherings.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2021.

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

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