Fast food franchises raise wages in a tight labor market

“We are able to sponsor family members of our employees to come and work for us and it’s amazing and they appreciate that and stay with our company.”

But not all restaurants have been able to offer higher wages or find the finances to sponsor foreign workers.

Western Canada Vice President for Restaurants Canada, Mark Von Schellwitz, said that by nature, catering is a labor intensive industry and finding staff, not to mention staff with the skills and expertise. applicable experience, was already becoming difficult even before the start of the pandemic.

“Just to put that in perspective, before the pandemic in industry we already had about 60,000 vacant and unfilled positions and after the pandemic, according to Statistics Canada, we now have 130,000 unfilled positions in the industry.”

Von Schellwitz said the reason is mainly demographics. If we had the same adolescent labor market participation now as in 2008, he said there would be over 100,000 additional workers in the Canadian labor market.

“There are also geographic challenges. Young people entering the industry are more concentrated in urban environments, which makes it even more difficult in small towns and rural areas… there are just not many young people to hire ”, a- he declared. “And it only got worse with the pandemic because members couldn’t give staff regular hours, so people in the industry either started working elsewhere or moved to other industries.”

To keep people coming back, food franchises offer higher wages, referral bonuses, benefits, and things like free meals for staff. But if they can’t attract the workforce, Von Schellwitz said members have to close certain hours or even days because they don’t have enough staff to be fully operational.

Trent Kachur is the owner of Dairy Queen in Prince Albert. Most of his employees are paid above the minimum wage, but he too struggles to attract enough employees. Throughout the pandemic, he is mostly content with doing his drive-thru and closing the restaurant for dinner.

“It’s mainly for the safety of our fans and our staff, just to keep everyone as safe as possible. But when we closed the inside of the store, there was an economic impact on your sales, but it was something we were prepared to do.

Kachur doesn’t believe the tight job market will last. With food and fuel prices rising, he said people will eventually have to return to work.

“With the end of Trudeau’s CERB, I hope everything will improve and the job market will get a little stronger. “

Von Schellwitz agrees that CERB has been a factor in the labor shortage.

“Why work if the government pays you not to work,” he said.

But now that he’s limited to people in actual stops, Von Schellwitz doesn’t think that’s going to be a factor going forward. Instead, he said there must be longer term solutions because there just aren’t enough people entering the workforce.

“According to our latest survey, we still have 80 percent of our industry still losing money or barely breaking even. So this happens at the worst possible time when they are trying to get their sales back. Of course, many members have borrowed money to keep operating and these increased labor costs are not helping the situation.

Von Schellwitz said what is really needed is a federal catering service or a flow of tourism and hospitality for temporary foreign worker immigration that specifically addresses the realities of the food service industry.

In the meantime, restaurateurs like Sander and Kachur hope their pay rise will help fill vacancies and keep customers coming back as before.

“It’s been a tough year for all small businesses, whether you’re a restaurant or a sporting goods store,” Kachur said. “Stay shopping offline this year and support the locals as much as you can. “

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On Twitter: @MonteleoneTeena

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