The labour issues hitting businesses across the country didn’t start with the pandemic, but it did accelerate the problem to a point where it’s one of the biggest issues holding back economic growth.
According to a survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC):
Lack of access to a workforce with the right skills is holding back businesses and hiring difficulties increase in smaller communities.
Nationally, unemployment has fallen to 5.2%.
Our economy is bouncing back, but that’s putting further strain on business’ ability to hire. Projections range on when things will return “back to normal,” but we can say with confidence these challenges aren’t going away in the short term.
These issues were decades in the making, but ultimately what is important is finding our path forward.
What businesses are doing according to BDC:
BDC notes Increasing diversity and flexibility are important for business growth, including three key areas: youth, immigrants, and older workers. Immigration in Canada slowed to a crawl through the pandemic. Both youth and immigrants bring skills and a willingness to grow and develop. BDC recommends offering more opportunities to youth and immigrants as a way to make better use of our workforce.
When it comes to older workers, we need to address flexibility. They have an incredible set of skills and experience that our economy has relied on for years. Workers approaching retirement may no longer be interested in working full-time hours, but could open to part-time and hybrid options.
More and more businesses are turning to automation as a way to streamline business. For most businesses, it’s not a case of a robot replacing a staff member — it’s all the small things adding up to a more efficient process. Examples include:
Businesses can further streamline by adopting new technology like updated email systems, shared digital calendars, and cloud-based workflow systems.
There’s no single solution that’s going to answer our workforce challenges. The local business community has shown its ability to adapt, pivot, and invest in new technology. The challenges facing businesses continue to change, but our economy is growing and to grow with it businesses need to be open and flexible to growing their workforce.
Cybersecurity is one of those topics that affects the majority of businesses in some form, but it’s something businesses are hesitant to talk about.
According to Mastercard, attacks on small businesses increased by 424% in 2020 and the issue is only growing as many invest further in digital systems.
A report from Fundera indicates:
• 43% of cyber attacks target small businesses
• Only 14% of small businesses rate their ability to mitigate cyber risks and attacks as highly effective
• 3 out of 4 small businesses say they don’t have the personnel to address IT security
• 54% of small businesses think they’re too small for a cyber attack
• Human error and system failure account for 52% of data security breaches
• Industry experts say a small business’s cyber security budget should be at least 3% of a company’s total spending
The business community is often reluctant to talk about it because as victims, there are feelings of shame and embarrassment as well as fears that their business might lose customers.
The truth is that business owners are required to be experts in everything from government legislation to marketing to construction projects and juggle all of those roles in any given day — yet they’re up against people who are dedicated to finding security breaches and exploiting them.
Typically, they’re after your data, whether to hold it ransom or steal it. Businesses and organizations that deal with large amounts of customer data, specifically in the government, retail and tech sectors, deal with the vast majority of attacks.
Even at a personal level, Statistics Canada found 42% of Canadians experienced some type of cyber security incident in the first few months of the pandemic.
Cyber security is a fundamental business issue right now. We’ve come to appreciate just how vulnerable our supply chain network is. An outbreak in a factory, a war on another continent, or a protest at a border crossing are all capable of grinding business down to a crawl. When you look at the statistics of just how prevalent cyber security incidents are and see how many businesses and organizations are involved in moving the goods and providing the services we rely on, there’s little doubt that someone in that network is either dealing with a cyber security incident or struggling with the fallout from one.
We’re encouraged to see our governments investing in helping our businesses thrive online through programs like Digital Main Street and the Canada Digital Adoption Program. Those investments are needed to move our economy ahead. But as our businesses move into new, uncharted waters, they need confidence that they’re going to be reasonable safe.
Cyber Security has been a common theme for chamber advocacy, including the Canadian and Ontario chambers of commerce who have been working hard to put this on the agenda for budget allocations and election platforms.
With employers across the country facing significant barriers to finding the skilled labour they need to thrive and expand, there’s one solution that we need to do better on — hiring persons with disabilities.
In a time when accommodating the health and safety of employees has risen to new priority levels and technology that has made it easier than ever to adapt and accommodate, there’s little excuse for not expanding our mindset on what the physical requirements of the job are.
According to the Discover Ability Network (DAN), 6.2 million Canadians have disabilities and it’s a group that anyone can be a part of, whether temporarily or permanently. More than 75% of people with disabilities acquire them as adults.
Hiring persons with disabilities typically leads to cost reductions related to turnover, absenteeism, safety, and improvements to productivity. In addition to finding a new talent pool, companies that hire persons with disabilities find that bringing people with different perspectives and experiences improves their products and services.
The DAN also has found that there is typically no or low cost to provide accommodations.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Discover Ability Network to help provide employers with the tools and resources they need to expand their workforce in a more inclusive manner. When it comes to hiring people with disabilities, the business opportunity is irrefutable.
The Discover Ability Network provides tools and supports through in-person workshops, webinars and online resources to help businesses understand the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, why and how to become a more inclusive employer, and how to hire and retain talent from the persons with disabilities labour pool.
Local chambers of commerce and boards of trade, industry associations, not-for-profit organizations, and businesses can request in-person and online training on a variety of topics related to accessibility, inclusion, and hiring from the persons with disabilities talent pool. Training is also available to staff of organizations that support job seekers with disabilities, such as post-secondary institutions and employment service providers, as well as training targeted to persons with disabilities to help them become more confident job seekers. Find out more here: https://occ.ca/discoverability/
The DAN highlights proven advantages to employing people with disabilities:
• Increasing the size of its skilled labour pool
• Reduced costs associated with turnover, training and safety
• Improving the engagement of all your employees
• Harnessing the value of innovative processes and new perspectives
• Attracting an underserved consumer market worth $55 billion per year in Canada
If you’re an employer interested in learning more, join us for the virtual Discover Ability Network ROI Conference May 25 and 26, 9 am to 12 pm. This free conference will discuss the value of hiring inclusively, the tools and resources to support building disability-confident organizations, and the importance of inclusive hiring to workforce development and future economic prosperity.
Get your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/diversity-in-business-roi-conference-tickets-310056205457
Find out more about hiring persons with disabilities and what resources chambers of commerce have to offer on the OCC discoverability page: https://occ.ca/discoverability/
The Government of Ontario’s budget is out, addressing some pressing issues for local businesses while falling short on others.
A budget released days before an election writ drops carries a bit more politics than it might in another year, but poll projections hint that there’s a reasonable chance our current government could be re-elected and implement this budget later this year.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce response to the Ontario budget highlights some welcome news:
• Measures to address Ontario’s current labour shortages and future workforce needs
We welcome commitments to reduce barriers to foreign credentials and new investments in the skilled trades strategy.
• Commitments to support business predictability
Ontario’s Plan to Stay Open focuses on improving pandemic preparedness and addressing key challenges such as labour shortages in the healthcare sector.
• Pro-growth policies
The proposed modernization of capital markets and venture capital investments will enable small businesses and entrepreneurs to access growth financing. Additionally, the Building Ontario Business Initiative seeks to level the playing field for Ontario businesses competing for government contracts.
• Initiatives to bolster our health care system.
Expanding medical training and investing in health care infrastructure and capacity are critical. Plans also focus on Ontario’s aging population through the dementia strategy, seniors care at home tax credit, and investments in long-term care.
• Continued action on critical transportation infrastructure
Rail, roads, and public transit will help businesses connect with workers and markets more efficiently.
On the what’s lacking side of things are four key issues we’ve been advocating for: immigration, supply chain, interprovincial trade, and climate change.
Immigration starts at the federal level, but our provinces play a large role in where people settle, what skills we recognize, and how they are supported. The government has made significant strides in addressing labour market issues through immigration, but one missing aspect has been the where. Approximately 35% of all immigrants moving to Canada locate to Toronto. Though Toronto is going through labour force challenges of its own, its concentration of new immigrants can be problematic for other communities facing low or even negative population growth. We would like to see our provincial government provide more supports to encourage immigration to rural and northern communities.
Chambers of commerce from across Ontario are calling on our provincial government to create a task force in partnership with private sector leaders to take a holistic approach to addressing our supply chain challenges and vulnerabilities. It’s a critical component of our economic recovery. Businesses are struggling to get raw materials, retail inventory and ingredients in a timely, consistent manner. The costs have gone up while service has declined. We need investments in physical infrastructure as well as cyber security to protect our supply chain and get our goods moving in timely and efficient manner.
Participating with the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table is helpful, but we need to do more when it comes to interprovincial trade and making labour more mobile. We want to see our government take on a lead role in unlocking internal markets for local businesses. We would like to see Ontario sign a mutual recognition agreement with other provinces and territories.
Climate change is a business issue. It’s going to cost us money to address it, but the status quo is already costing us significantly and will cost more yet down the road. We’re encouraged to see more investments in electric vehicle supply chains, but the budget lacks a more comprehensive approach to climate change, including a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across sectors, industries, and communities.
Our role as a chamber is to be non-partisan advocates for our business community. Regardless of what political party leads this province moving forward, our economic recovery is going to take investments that enable our private sector to do what they do best and create prosperity.
With the Ontario provincial election coming up in a little over a month, it’s time to look at what the priorities are for the business community.
No matter what the political leanings of a party are — the business community will play an important role in our province’s economic rebound.
When it comes to elections, the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce is strictly non-partisan. We believe in advocating for local businesses and welcome the support of all parties and candidates in progressing policy that will build, support and provide opportunities for the local business community to thrive.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce put together a four-point plan called Vote Prosperity which lays out the priorities of chambers of commerce and boards of trade for all parties across the province.
The four pillars are:
1. Improve Business Confidence and Predictability
Predictability is fundamental to business confidence, economic recovery and prosperity. Businesses need a stable policy environment with clear timelines, contracts, consultations, and strategies to help them plan for the future and make long-term investments. Given the uncertainty brought on by COVID-19, Ontario must also bolster its pandemic preparedness in response to ongoing and future threats.
2. Foster Business and Economic Growth
The dual economic and public health crises of the past two years have left many businesses and households in Ontario with record levels of debt and financial instability. Pro-growth measures for business will fuel economic recovery. Ontario will need to focus on actions that support business access to the capital, markets, and talent that they need to grow.
3. Build Resilient Communities
A strong economy is built by healthy and resilient communities. Ontario will need to address challenges within our health care system, the ongoing impacts of climate change, access to housing, municipalities’ fiscal capacity to support regional economies, and infrastructure deficits.
4. Support Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Ontarians’ entrepreneurial spirit is one of the province’s greatest competitive advantages. Ontario will need to foster an environment that encourages new business ideas and investments to boost productivity and create the jobs of tomorrow.
Whomever forms our next government will have some difficult decisions to make. The last couple of years have been incredibly challenging, but how we decide to invest in moving forward will have big implications for years to come. Key investments to drive our competitiveness include workforce development and training, immigration, technology, infrastructure, and clean energy. We need to look at removing unnecessary barriers to growth like outdated regulations, an inefficient tax system, obstacles to interprovincial trade and labour mobility.
Our next government is going to have to balance post-pandemic priorities that include our overstretched health care system, supporting key sectors and demographics that have been disproportionately impacted, fiscal pressures from an aging population, supply chain disruptions, and record-high inflation.
Ontario’s next government has a big job ahead of it. We’re asking all parties and candidates to listen to their local businesses and the needs and opportunities they’re presenting as a key component to building Ontario into the province we want it to become.
One out of every 20 jobs in Canada are currently going unfilled.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s March 2022 Labour Force Survey reveals the total to be 830,000 jobs.
“It seems like every survey shows businesses laser-focused on two issues limiting their recovery and posing the most significant barrier to economic growth: supply chain disruptions and labour shortages. Most businesses believe supply chain disruptions are with us for another year, maybe two, but our members see no end to Canada’s labour shortage crisis,” states Leah Nord, Canadian Chamber of Commerce Senior Director of Workforce Strategies and Inclusive Growth.
It's going to take a multi-faceted approach to properly address our labour challenges. It will take involvement from all levels of government, public institutions and the private sector all working together.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is advocating that this is the time to modernize Employment Insurance. The Government of Canada is engaging in consultations on EI. The EI system has not been reviewed in 70 years, something the CCC calls a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to crack this stale nut wide open.
The CCC would like to see EI evolve towards becoming a talent development process that responds to the regional and sectoral labour market needs, supporting individuals through temporary job loss with financial and training resources. The CCC goes on to say that in order to achieve this we need a mechanism wherein all parties – business, labour and government – can engage in a meaningful and sustained way.
The latest unemployment numbers highlight that the issue is much bigger than simply getting people back to work. Unemployment dropped to the lowest it has been since 1974, hitting 5.3% in March. CCC Chief Economist Stephen Tapp expects to see the trend continue with unemployment dropping below 5% this year.
People are back to work.
It’s important to look at how we’re recovering. For example, Canada added 73,000 jobs in March, of which 55,000 were men and 18,000 women. Full-time work is leading growth, having added 93,000 jobs, while part-time employment dropped a further 20,000. While many people may prefer full-time work, part-time provides its own essential role in the economy by engaging people who require the added flexibility. Wages continue to rise, but struggle to keep pace with soaring inflation.
One key aspect of overhauling EI is to reposition people for the workforce. The system currently provides needed financial assistance while someone is out of work and essentially puts them back into the workforce to fill the same role they left. There is an opportunity to do better and use the EI process to develop much needed talent.
We have to come to terms with the fact that dealing with such a large hole in our workforce is about more than finding enough bodies to fill those jobs. We can do better. We can modernize our workforce in ways that won’t require the same things to be done the same way we were doing them. Ultimately, this innovative approach to employment gaps will make our country more competitive.
Without access to talent for our businesses, our economy is at risk of stagnating. The timing couldn’t be worse considering the desperate situation many businesses are facing coming out of two years of COVID-19 public health measures.
The heart of our economy, our growth, and our prosperity is people. It’s time to do better about how we support, train, and engage our most valuable resource.
Economic growth is led by the private sector. It takes investment in their workforce, infrastructure, and innovation.
The 2022 federal budget has a lot to offer, but time will tell if there’s enough emphasis on enabling the private sector to lead our economic recovery.
It’s encouraging to see our government prioritize investments in housing, reducing emissions, strengthening public health, and building a stronger workforce. Overall, our economic outlook is improving. Employment is up. Our GDP has come in higher than projected.
Where the criticism comes in is the lack of vision in the federal budget.
“Fiscal responsibility will become increasingly important amid inflation and rising interest rates,” states Rocco Rossi, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, in press release. “While Budget 2022 contains several growth-enabling investments, it lacks an overarching plan and vision for economic growth that will encourage private sector investment and reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio without the need for spending cuts or tax increases in the future. Now more than ever, it is critical for Canada to leverage private capital and reduce regulatory barriers that inhibit growth.”
The budget contains some significant positive investments. The federal government is tackling current housing issues. There are incentives to stimulate housing construction and a new Tax-Free Home Savings Account to help first-time buyers save up for a home.
We’re encouraged to see the government continue to prioritize investments in the VIA High Frequency Rail project, which includes Peterborough in a new dedicated passenger rail line between Toronto and Quebec City. The budget spells out further investment in planning and design steps.
There’s a big emphasis on net-zero emissions — and rightly so. Canada has made some big promises on the world stage to do our part to fight climate change. It’s encouraging to see the government work with the private sector, including investments in carbon capture technology, electric vehicles, and tax credits toward net zero technologies. The government is also investing heavily in assisting the agriculture sector invest in low emissions technology.
Small and medium-sized businesses will see access to the small business tax rate gradually phased out once they reach $50 million of capital, up from $15 million. The government is also working on developing a plan for Employee Ownership Trusts, a tool that can help reward employees and increase retention.
Large banks and insurance companies are going to see a tax increase, prompting some concerns from the business community that these costs will get passed on to their customers.
The government is investing in a stronger workforce through new funding for training, tax credits to encourage seniors to continue longer in the workforce, and funding to support integration for persons with disabilities.
Our workforce is heavily dependant on outside help. The budget includes investments in the Temporary Foreign Worker program as well as assistance for immigration, including expanding the program to recognize foreign credentials.
The budget comes up a bit short in a few critical areas. While there is money set aside for cybersecurity, it’s through the national defense sector. Chambers of commerce across the country have been advocating for more investment in cyber security for the private sector, especially as it impacts our supply chain. There’s a general lack of focus and investment in the supply chain, which is driving up costs and creating challenges for businesses and consumers.
Also missing is debt relief for hardest hit business that used government support programs.
If nothing else, the 2022 budget is big on optimism. The federal government is making some much needed investments in some business sectors that should lead us in the direction of recovery and growth. More can be done, and for that we’ll continue to advocate for a strong private sector to lead our economic growth.
Housing in Ontario has become difficult to obtain for many people due to both price and availability.
We at the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Chamber of Commerce believe creating a strategy to encourage tiny homes will help increase housing stock and address some issues relating to housing insecurity. We’ve submitted a resolution on this topic to the Ontario Chamber of Commerce which will be up for debate among members at the Annual General Meeting at the end of April. If approved, it becomes part of the provincial advocacy effort. Our aim is to better utilize a housing niche as one more tool in addressing our current challenges.
Housing is becoming increasingly out of reach for many Ontarians, both in terms of home ownership and rental. The average house price in Ontario has increased by more than 47 per cent over the last two years, with the price of the average home nearing $1 million at the end of 2021. Access to rental homes has challenges as well with vacancy rates remaining low and prices increasing.
The lack of access to housing has driven record numbers of people to other provinces. According to Statistics Canada, our country hasn’t seen this level of interprovincial migration in more than 30 years, with Ontario taking the biggest hit. In the second quarter of 2021, nearly 12,000 more people left Ontario for other provinces than moved here. Many of the people leaving are younger, first-time home buyers — the very people our labour market is desperately in need of.
Others have been left with no home at all. This has been especially evident in the downtown cores of many Ontario communities as years of housing insecurity issues have become much more visible.
A large portion of our need for housing can be met through traditional housing, though the pace of the creation of traditional housing stock needs to increase to meet demand.
One growing niche solution is tiny homes. These homes are typically less than 32 m2 (400 ft2) and are required by the Ontario Building Code to be more than 17.5 m2 (188 ft2). Tiny homes are popular both for people looking to downsize and people who have otherwise been priced out of the housing market. The Province has created allowances within the Ontario Building Code to accommodate these type of residences; however, that has not been incorporated into many municipal zoning bylaws. The rules in municipalities across the province vary widely. This is a particular issue when it comes to minimum size and parking requirements, all of which make it a costly and a highly customized endeavour to create tiny homes either as independent or secondary dwellings.
Encouraging and incentivising municipalities to modernize zoning bylaws in a standardized way that makes it easier to build tiny homes would add to our affordable building stock. This will help make our communities more competitive in attracting and retaining talent and address local housing insecurity issues.
Additionally, there is a growing need for temporary shelter. Non-profit and charitable organizations have been trying to find stopgap housing for the housing insecure. Homelessness and housing insecurity are complicated issues that require a multifaceted approach. Shelter beds are the go-to for many municipalities, but that solution doesn’t work for everyone due to shelter capacity, hours of operation, privacy conditions, sobriety requirements, and interpersonal conflicts. There is an opportunity to amend the Ontario Building Code to use a type of minimalist tiny home as a stopgap shelter for those with no other options. While not an ideal housing situation, temporarily residing in a minimalist tiny home could provide people who would otherwise be sleeping rough with the safety, security, and dignity of a roof over their head, four walls, and a lockable door.
Our recommendations for the Government of Ontario are:
1. Create a strategy for the construction of tiny homes as a tool for increasing housing stock
2. Encourage and incentivize municipalities with the use of existing government programs to incorporate a standard set of guidelines, in alignment with the Ontario Building Code, for tiny home construction.
3. Amend the Ontario Building Code to allow for minimalist tiny homes as a stopgap shelter for people who might otherwise be living rough
Tiny homes offer opportunities to address some of the housing issues our province is dealing with by improving access to affordable housing options and shelter for our most vulnerable. A provincial tiny home construction strategy is needed to further explore and develop this niche while ensuring basic living standards are met.
Rising costs and recruitment challenges are the biggest barriers Canadian businesses expect to deal with over coming months.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce Business Data Lab’s analysis of the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (which surveyed 17,695 businesses) found 50% of businesses singled out rising input costs as an obstacle for their business for the next three months. Four out of the top eight obstacles listed are related to rising costs, including insurance and transportation. Three of those top eight obstacles are related to labour challenges, including recruiting and retaining skilled employees. Supply chain challenges round out the list of most pressing obstacles for business.
To deal with workforce challenges, businesses are offering more. Over the next three months, 45% of businesses expect to increase wages for existing staff, 24% expect to increase wages for new hires and 6% expect to offer signing bonuses or incentives. Other popular solutions include flexible scheduling, professional training, and increased benefits.
The accommodation and food service cited the least optimism and topped the list in its workforce struggles with 65% of businesses citing a shortage of labour force as an obstacle. This sector is also leading the way in wage increases, with 58% anticipating they will increase wages, including 32% who expect to raise wages by 10% or more.
Despite pressures of rising costs, access to the funds to do it adds to that challenge, with 28% of businesses in the accommodation and food service sector reporting that they cannot take on more debt.
With a workforce that is increasingly looking for flexibility in working hours and working from home, the food and accommodation sector offers the least flexibility due to the nature of what they do.
News that Ontario is moving ahead with the federal government on a $10-a-day childcare plan is a welcome relief for young families and businesses alike. The first step is a 25% reduction in child care fees effective April 1.
Women have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19 in terms of being employed in the most vulnerable and hardest hit sectors (like accommodation and food service) as well as taking on significant childcare issues.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been advocating that women’s participation in the labour market is a precondition of our economic recovery and future prosperity. Offering affordable childcare is a significant step to easing costs for young families and making it more accessible for parents to take on a larger role in the workforce.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce also states that to make the childcare agreement viable, the childcare sector needs an adequate supply of qualified workers. This includes recognizing foreign credentials, enhancing online training, fast-tracking in-school credentials, and developing financial support for underemployed populations to access training opportunities.
Affordable childcare will offer families help while having positive effects on access to labour – but more support is needed for our hardest hit businesses. It’s apparent that some business sectors are going to be dealing with the economic effects of COVID-19 for some time.
What is lower down on the list of obstacles facing businesses is customer demand. People still want to dine, travel, shop, and renovate. We have a significant role to play as consumers to spend our money locally, including patronizing local restaurants and attractions. We can help our local businesses recover and thrive.
After two long years, tourism is set to return to the Kawarthas.
Our region has been in an awkward situation for the last two years for our summer tourism season. The messaging has been stay home, but people were limited in their recreational options and flocked to the region from across Ontario. Many of those who were able to open and offer activities did well, but many others were forced to close or significantly scale back their offerings.
Through it all, our borders remained closed to all but essential travellers and people willing to stay long enough to go through the self isolation process.
As of April 1, fully vaccinated visitors to Canada will no longer be required to take a COVID-19 test unless selected for random testing. Partially or unvaccinated travellers will still need to follow applicable testing criteria.
Though many Canadians will take advantage of relaxed border restrictions to travel beyond our borders, many have established new hobbies, traditions, and a love for Ontario offerings. Capitalizing on this, the government of Ontario is offering the Ontario Staycation Tax Credit. This offers 20% back on eligible 2022 accommodation expenses up to $1,000 per individual or $2,000 per family. This includes hotels, motels, resorts, lodges, bed-and-breakfasts, cottages and campgrounds — all of which can be found right here in the Kawarthas.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is currently advocating for a similar program from the federal government for domestic tourism that includes hospitality activities like dining. Time will tell if this is included in the upcoming federal budget.
All of this opportunity comes at a time when nearly all public health restrictions have been lifted. Venues are free to sell out to capacity crowds, restaurants can host a full Friday night compliment, and recreational activities can resume. We’ll see the return of sports tournaments, concerts, and cultural events.
And this time around we can openly welcome our visitors.
This is the summer many of our businesses desperately need.
According to Peterborough and the Kawarthas Economic Development, our region welcomes more than 3 million visitors annually who spend approximately $365 million at local tourism-related businesses.
Despite the influx of tourists, it’s going to take time to rebuild. While capacity limits can be lifted at the stroke of a pen, filling back up to capacity isn’t so easy. Staff have moved on to jobs that still offered a steady paycheque while the tourism industry was mostly shut down. Hiring an all-new fresh team is daunting and comes with big challenges. Chefs need to learn a new menu, administrative staff have to learn what products to order and booking staffing levels, and reactional activity providers need to learn the ropes before instructing customers. And there isn’t exactly a large pool of people waiting to get trained and jump into the tourism and hospitality industry.
On top of that, many business owners are already financially stretched to the limit from trying to survive the last two years that buying inventory, hiring staff, and investing in their facilities is challenging. Many will have to start all over again building their customer base, which takes time and money.
At the end of the day, many business operators are simply exhausted and the busy season hasn’t even begun.
All this to say that relaxing health and travel restrictions is a big move for many local businesses, but it’s by no means the end of their challenges. It’s going to take intentional, targeted investment and continued supports for our hardest hit businesses, including tourism and hospitality, to be able to thrive for years to come.