Manitoba restaurants can’t find enough staff to fill openings

Restaurants across Manitoba have a lot of job openings but can’t find enough people to fill them.

Thomas Schneider, owner of Tommy’s Pizzeria, is currently open limited hours while he looks for workers.

“We’re only open Tuesday to Saturday but I would love to be open Tuesday to Sunday,” Schneider said. “I would love to be open for more lunches but we just don’t have the staff for that.”

He’s had job postings for dishwasher, kitchen staff and delivery driver on many different online job boards for several weeks, but so far hasn’t had any luck filling them.

“Every single time there was a lockdown, less and less people started applying for positions,” he said.

Read more: Restaurant curfew puts damper on service during day one of reopening

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Schneider said he’s competing with government unemployment programs, making it difficult to attract workers.

He also believes many people might be feeling uneasy about taking a job in an industry hit so hard by COVID-19 shutdowns.

“It gives a lot of uncertainty to the workers in the restaurant industry that they’re not going to have secure jobs,” Schneider said. “I think a lot of them have gone out and found other jobs that are more secure.”

Shaun Jeffrey, CEO of the Manitoba Restaurant & Foodservices Association, agrees with Schneider.

Read more: Manitoba’s June employment rates fall behind other provinces: Statistics Canada

Jeffrey said a lack of a long-term reopening plan from the government isn’t helping to attract restaurant workers either.

“Unfortunately that just provides more uncertainty in those staff that are either waiting to come back to work or currently working,” Jeffrey said. “They’re frustrated, as we are, trying to be able to move forward to getting back to whatever the new normal looks like.”

Under current public health orders, restaurants and bars can be open at 25 per cent capacity indoors, and 50 per cent capacity for outdoor dining until 10 p.m. Those dining indoors must be from the same household, but those rules are waived if everyone at the table is fully vaccinated.

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Jeffrey is hopeful the industry will recover, but for now a lot of help is needed.

“If we had a large restaurant that represented our entire industry there would be a big, ‘We’re hiring’ sign on the front of it.”

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