Canadian restaurant job hirings are spiking as provinces continue to relax COVID-19 restrictions, in what experts say is a good sign on the road to foodservice and hospitality’s recovery.
Job listings in food preparation and foodservice have surged in recent weeks to reach 37 per cent above pre-pandemic levels as of June 18, according to Indeed Canada data. It’s the first time the sector has significantly outpaced the broader economy since the onset of COVID-19.
The restaurant sector has been one of the most devastated industries by the effects of the pandemic, but it is now seeking to rebuild its workforce.
That strong demand, which includes bartenders, kitchen help, and servers, suggests foodservice and hospitality is ready to “bounce back sharply” over the coming months as Canada continues to reopen, reports Bloomberg.
The industry accounts for 64 per cent of the 571,000 positions that are yet to be recovered since the start of the pandemic, according to the report.
“It’s clearly the reopening of previously shuttered establishments or the return of indoor dining that is driving this surge right now,” said Brendon Bernard, an economist at Indeed Canada.
Rising vaccination rates and falling COVID-19 case counts have allowed the country to finally reopen restaurants and bars after months of closures. Indoor dining is now back on the table in every province other than Ontario, although even Ontario has reopened patio dining in recent weeks.
Indeed, the pace of reopening and the strong resurgence in demand for eating out means many businesses could struggle to find enough workers.
Based on the searches of jobseekers, Indeed Canada found that interest in the foodservice industry remains below pre-pandemic levels.
The harshness of restrictions means some workers have likely left the industry altogether, suggested Bernard. Generous government support programs could also be undermining supply, whiles some workers may be worried about health risks.
Meanwhile, Ottawa announced the rollout of a new hiring subsidy for businesses last week.
The new Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) is meant to gradually take the baton from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program as the economic recovery continues. The CEWS is meant to help businesses to avoid layoffs or to rehire staff by covering a portion of employees’ wages, whereas the CRHP will cover part of employers’ added expenses as they boost their payroll to take on new hires or increase pay for employees.
The hiring subsidy is intended and expected to make it easier for pandemic-battered businesses to quickly refire operations and staffing as COVID-19 restrictions lift.
Both Restaurants Canada and the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) supported the creation of a hiring benefit, with CFIB president Dan Kelly calling it “a powerful tool to help small firms bring back their staff.”
The hiring subsidy may help foodservice employers attract new hires to replace those who have left the industry, said Olivier Bourbeau of Restaurants Canada.
However, Bernard warns that some restaurants that have stayed open but are struggling might start to exit the industry and close permanently as government support is pulled back.