Simplify immigration to alleviate the labor shortage in the restaurant industry

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Simplify immigration to alleviate the labor shortage in the restaurant industry

< p class="sc-v64krj-0 knjbxw">Toronto restaurateurs struggle to recruit staff.

Players in the restaurant industry are calling for changes to immigration rules to attract more foreign workers to make up for the lack of skilled labor in this industry.

The Toronto pastry shop Nord Lyon is one of many restaurants struggling to find skilled labor, despite its best efforts.

There is no really nobody, supports its managing director, Hicham Bouseksou.

He says he posted ads in both Quebec and Ontario on many job search sites, on social networks, and even tried word of mouth. All without success.

The consequences of this lack of manpower are being felt. Nord Lyon has renovated another premises in the same building for a second restaurant. However, it does not have the necessary staff for the opening.

The restaurant was due to open on September 1. The opening has since been pushed back to late October or early November.

“We give ourselves an opening date for the new restaurant, at least it gives us hope. But if we don't have staff, how will we do it? »

—Hicham Bouseksou, General Manager of Nord Lyon

Hicham Bouseksou believes that the problem lies in the fact that there are few people who receive training in gastronomy in Canada. Thus, Nord Lyon mainly recruits cooks, pastry chefs and bakers from abroad.

However, according to him, economic immigration is too slow a process.

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Hicham Bouseksou says it is very difficult to recruit skilled labor for Nord Lyon.

For Moroccans or Tunisians, it will take us more than four, even five months to get them a visa at the embassy so that they can come to Toronto, he laments.

Hicham Bouseksou also believes that the language test required to come to Canada as an economic immigrant is particularly harmful to workers in this environment.

He explains that he receives many CVs from candidates abroad with several years of experience, but that they do not have good marks in the French Knowledge Test (TCF).

He therefore asks to reduce these criteria for those who come as a specialized worker, such as pastry chefs or bakers.

The owner of Batifole Gourmand in downtown Toronto, Pascal Geffroy, also believes that a lack of restaurant training in Canada is hampering staff recruitment. He adds that increasing the immigration thresholds is a possible solution to make up for the lack of personnel.

Pascal Geffroy concerned about the supply chain implications of rising restaurant spending and declining revenue.

The chef says that many restaurants, including his own, offer competitive salaries and pay close attention to working hours and conditions in order to attract Canadian workers. However, the efforts would be in vain.

We don't have people who come spontaneously to show up for work. When you advertise, you don't get a response, says Mr. Geffroy.

Many restaurants offer a range of benefits, including better wages, to attract potential workers.

This staff shortage is felt across the country, in both large cities and smaller communities, says Restaurants Canada vice-president Olivier Bourbeau.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, he says.

Referring to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, he indicates that there are 171,715 job vacancies in this industry in Canada, while there were only 60,000 before the pandemic. The situation does not appear to be resolving any time soon.

To have spoken with economists recently, this labor shortage work is ahead of us for 9 to 10 years. »

— Olivier Bourbeau, Vice-President of Restaurants Canada

Simplifying the process to become a temporary worker would, according to him, be one of the ways to accommodate more workers ;work. With this in mind, Restaurants Canada has made recommendations to the federal government to reduce fees and speed up this process.

Olivier Bourbeau adds that the organization has also discussed with Ottawa regarding concerns a possible reassessment of immigration thresholds in general.

According to him, the government is open to these possibilities, but itself experiences a shortage of manpower which slows down its own process.

For her part, a spokesperson for the Ontario Ministry of Labor reiterates her desire for more powers in immigration in order to attract more skilled workers from the ;foreign.

In a statement, she adds that skilled workers in the restaurant industry can apply to immigrate to Canada through OINP. However, the province can only select 9,700 candidates from all professions.

That's why we've asked the federal government to increase the number of immigrants we can nominate to fill jobs in the restaurant industry and other essential sectors. such as health care and skilled trades, she concludes.

Pascal Geffroy is particularly concerned about the economic impact of this shortage. He says restaurants should limit the number of customers they welcome based on their ability to serve them well. Thus, income has decreased while expenses continue to increase.

« Rents have not gone down, on the contrary, they have gone up. Costs have increased, wages have increased, and we have a decrease in turnover because we cannot accommodate as many customers as we would need to be able to offset these fixed costs.

— Pascal Geffroy, owner of Batifole Gourmand

The restaurant owner adds that some products also cost more.

It's math. We will arrive at some point with more establishment closures because it is no longer manageable, he believes.

Pascal Geffroy is also worried about the domino effect that a series of closures could cause, in particular by reducing the turnover of the suppliers of these restaurants.

As suppliers have fewer customers, they will also sell less. […] They also have personnel and recruitment problems. All of this is creating an economic model that will crumble, concludes the chef.

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