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Syed Khan – 13 September 2021,

As Canada’s economy picks up again after the pandemic, restaurateurs facing labor shortages are hiring international students and temporary foreign workers to bring down the shortages. The industry association of Restaurants Canada has called upon the Ottawa government to make it easier for establishments to hire immigrants. With the country currently in the middle of a federal election campaign, Restaurants Canada is urging all the political parties to prioritize and resolve this labor shortage.

Restaurants Canada has proposed a National Foodservice Labour Development Strategy, which includes:

  • The addition of a foodservice stream into the Temporary Foreign Worker Program to address seasonal and long-term labor shortages
  • Redesigning the national occupational classification structure to expand categories of positions that foodservice employers can use the TFWP to help fill, as well as a lower administrative burden on small businesses who use the TFWP.
  • Extension of the work visas to 12 months and suspension of fees until 2022
  • Supporting the extensions and development of impactful labor pilot programs, such as the Alberta Foodservice Labour Connections and Atlantic Immigration Program.
  • Increasing the federal funding to ensure efficient processing of immigration applications, reducing wait times, administrative burdens, and for increasing information-sharing between sponsors

In the statistics of the latest Labour Force Survey data from Statistics Canada, almost 800,000 restaurant workers lost their jobs or had their hours reduced to zero during lockdown last year. A large percent of them have since then found other employment and are no longer available for restaurants to re-hire. Almost 80 percent of restaurateurs are having trouble hiring kitchen staff and 67 percent are having difficulty finding servers and staff to bus tables.

Quotes from the association members:

“Restaurants are key to bringing Canadians back to work, but precarious conditions over the past 18-plus months have created unprecedented hiring challenges. As Canada’s fourth-largest private-sector employer, typically employing 1.2 million people, the hard-hit foodservice industry deserves a plan to recover remaining pandemic job losses and avoid a long-term labor crisis,” says Todd Barclay, president and chief executive officer of the industry association Restaurants Canada.

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