Banff feeling the pinch of worker shortage: ‘They have not come back’

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Banff feeling the worker shortage pinch
WATCH: Banff businesses are hiring but as Jayme Doll reports, hundreds of positions remain vacant ahead of the busy summer tourist season. – Jun 2, 2022

The job board at the resource centre in Banff is wallpapered with cue card-sized job postings, some with multiple positions on them.

“We also have a box full of them,” said Michel Dufresne, director of Job Resource Centre in Banff.

Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the number of resumes coming in from potential hires.

Dufresne said they used to see up to 100 people a day before the pandemic. Now there are only about 20 trickling through the doors a day.

“We used to have the Australians, the Europeans, eastern Canadians and other foreign workers. They left at the start of the pandemic and they have not come back,” said Dufresne.

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Dufresne estimates there are about 1,000 positions available in the tourist town.

Businesses are anticipating a healthy rebound this summer after being hit hard by pandemic restrictions. But many are feeling the pinch of the worker shortage.

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Advocates say Alberta disability workers leaving jobs due to low wages

“We are short. Every business in town is looking for people — it’s been a constant leading up to the summer season,” said Andre Quenneville, general manager at Mount Norquay, who is looking for kitchen staff and bus drivers. “We know we are still missing the young travelling workers — they haven’t come back yet and we’ll definitely feel that pain this summer.”

Bow Valley Regional Transit is also looking for drivers. The transit operator is short five drivers and has had to reduced the frequency on some of its routes.

Banff Lake Louise Hospitality Association executive director Darren Reeder said not only have foreign workers not returned, but getting Canadians to come back is difficult as well.

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“For some it’s shifts. For some it’s pay. For some who have relocated to other parts of the country to see family in other parts of Canada, they don’t want to come back,” he said.

Reeder added temporary foreign workers are needed now more than ever. But that process is expensive and lengthy for both employers and employees, and not a quick fix as the tourists start to return to Banff.

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