There is a sad irony to the fact that many businesses which managed to survive the lockdowns and restrictions of the past year and a half are now facing severe stress due to a shortage of staff. Restaurants in particular are finding it almost impossible to find people to fill positions such as servers or kitchen workers, placing a great deal of pressure on owners and managers trying keep open despite the lack of support.
This is true not only in this municipality but across the country as communities reopen and people return to favourite pubs, restaurants, and coffee bars after the long months of isolation. It seems there is a reluctance on the part of many who worked in this area before COVID to return to work while government financial supports are still available. There is natural desire to enjoy the paid leave as long as possible, but that approach has potential dangers.
At some point, the financial supports will end as the economy gets back to something like normal, pre-pandemic conditions, and the assumption by some workers in the hospitality field is that their old jobs will be waiting for them at that point. That is not necessarily going to happen. Two things are possible: one is that the businesses they want to return to will no longer be in business. Places in the hospitality field were already teetering on the brink of closure because of the lockdowns, and some of them will not be reopening ever. How many will fail to survive will only really be known in the coming months, but it is generally accepted that the casualty rate will be significant.
The second possibility is that the end of the financial support system will see a rush of people looking for work, all at the same time. There may simply not be enough vacant positions to cater to everyone who wants to work again. Businesses may be unable to hire back former workers because of operating pressures. Others may not want to rehire people who refused to return when they were most needed.
It may be a good idea for those enjoying their paid leave to start applying for work now and be willing to forego a few weeks of government subsidies in order to guarantee future employment in the long term. Beat the rush. Find work now, while the demand is there. It’s not only your own future that may depend on it, but the overall economy will benefit from maintaining a healthy and vibrant hospitality sector. It’s time to go to work again.