foreign workers

Quebec restaurants want looser foreign worker rules to ease labour shortage

Quebec’s restaurant and hospitality industry is asking the federal government for help in easing its labour shortage, calling for the loosening of foreign worker rules in time for the summer season.

This summer, with open restaurants and COVID-19-related restrictions at their lightest since the pandemic began, is expected to be the busiest season for foodservice and tourism in over two years.

Canada has already announced some changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program under its Workforce Solutions Road Map, but the Quebec industry says more needs to be done and is asking the federal government to make it easier for temporary foreign workers to come to Quebec.

Industry leaders are highly concerned about being caught understaffed ahead of the summer.

“We have a great summer ahead, but we need employees,” said Jean-Sebastien Boudreault, president of the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal, per CTV News.

Quebec’s restaurant association, the ARQ, says that the province’s restaurant and hospitality sectors are short around 30,000 workers, with the biggest shortage being felt in the back of the house. “What we are seeing now is that the lack of workers is [in] the kitchen. We need to find some chefs, some cooks, some line cooks,” said ARQ spokesperson Martin Vezina.

Currently, Quebecois employers need to prove that a Canadian can’t fill the job — a process that takes time and money.

“Having to pay $1,000 per worker, waiting four to six months to get a paper that confirms what we already know seems kind of stupid,” said Boudreault.