'It's been tough': Waterloo Region restaurants facing labour shortages, struggling to hire
A staffing shortage has left Churchill Arms in Waterloo little choice but to reduce its operating hours.
“Everyone’s kinda doing double duty and being overworked and are stressed a little bit,” said the pub’s owner, Sharon MacCandless.
She employs five people and two are recent hires. While it would be ideal to take on more staff, MacCandless said she hasn’t had much luck.
“It’s been tough, there’s just not a lot of applicants,” she said.
MacCandlesss said the decision to shorten business hours wasn’t easy but it means giving herself and her staff a much-needed break physically and mentally.
“You’re trying to smile behind the mask but you’re not happy. I have to keep to shorter hours for now and try to get ourselves healthy again,” said MacCandless.
Over in uptown Waterloo, Abe Erb Brewing Company is also feeling the toll of labour shortages.
Executive chef Michael de Jonge said it’s been a frustrating hiring process with some people not showing up to interviews or their first shift.
“Have more people part-time so if someone calls in sick, they have someone to cover their shift … that would be a perfect world, but right now, we’re not living in one,” said de Jonge.
Abe Erb plans to reopen its Kitchener location next month and needs to hire six more employees but de Jonge said that won’t be an easy task.
If de Jonge isn’t able to, he said the uptown location’s six staff members will have to be split between the two locations.
Vice President of Western Canada for Restaurants Canada Mark von Schellwitz said these challenges are consistent across the country with the industry having lost 800,000 jobs during the pandemic.
“We still have 230,000 jobs that have not come back. They’ve got jobs in other areas or in some cases, they’re just not quite feeling safe coming back,” said Schellwtiz.
He said the federal government should help by adding “a separate food service stream of a temporary foreign workers program, just like there is for agriculture.”
He’s hopeful the labour market will recover by 2023.