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Kingston one of five top cities in Ontario hardest hit by pandemic

Click to play video: 'Hospitality and Tourism Worker Shortage' Hospitality and Tourism Worker Shortage
Hospitality and Tourism Worker Shortage – Jun 11, 2021

As Ontario enters phase one of its pandemic reopening plan, local business owners say they are struggling to make sure there’s enough staff working in their bars, hotels, and restaurants.

“We’ve been drastically affected by the lockdown. Many of our businesses have been completely shuttered. Those that have been able to operate have been operating with skeleton crews, often with owners, like myself, doing the bulk of the work while we were forced to layoff some of our tenured staff,” said Sean Billing, managing partner of the downtown hotel “The Frontenac Club.”

Billing says that people working in the gig industry have switched over to more secure jobs in other sectors.

Read more: Ontario enters provincial COVID-19 reopening plan: Here’s what is allowed in Step 1

“Normally in Kingston, just alone we would have somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15,000 people within the hospitality and tourism sector this time of year. So we need a huge ramp up of people to either come back into the industry, or new people to enter the industry.”

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According to the Conference Board of Canada, Kingston is among the top five cities in the nation to be hit hardest by the pandemic.

“A labour shortage in our industry is not new. It existed before the pandemic and has just been amplified by the pandemic,” said the executive director of Kingston Accommodation Partners, Krista Leclair.

She says she hopes that students will take advantage of the opportunities within the tourism industry.

“I think Kingston in particular is a really great, vibrant post-secondary community. So there are lots of opportunities for our students to be filling these gaps in summer jobs so that they can get the well rounded experience to use in their school careers and in the future,” said Leclair.

Leclair says with the province now in the gradual reopening phase, she predicts almost every bar, restaurant, hotel, and tourist attraction in the city will be hiring.

Read more: More than 200K small businesses could close permanently amid pandemic: CFIB

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