Canadian restaurants struggle with staff shortages and rising costs - National |  Globalnews.ca

Canadian restaurants struggle with staff shortages and rising costs – National | Globalnews.ca

When the fried chicken chain opened its first location in Atlantic Canada, it was so popular that it had to scale back its hours.

The Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen that opened a few weeks ago in a Halifax suburb has cut its schedule due to high demand that has left employees scrambling while customers queue for hours.

“Due to industry-wide staffing challenges, the store is open for an hour less than before,” Popeyes spokeswoman Emily Siantra said in an email.

“The restaurant aims to return to normal business hours by early June.”

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The strange case of a restaurant so popular that it needs to close early underscores a pervasive problem facing restaurants in Canada: an employment crisis.

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“The new Popeyes that opened actually… had to cut back hours just to give people a rest,” said Gordon Stewart, CEO of the Restaurant Consortium of Nova Scotia.

Restaurants across the country are reducing opening hours and thickening menus as persistent staff shortages and rising costs threaten to derail the industry’s return from crushing pandemic restrictions.


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Inflation forces North Vancouver restaurant to raise prices


Inflation forces North Vancouver restaurant to raise prices – March 16, 2022

Many restaurants’ decision to scale back operations comes despite a boom in business as diners return to restaurants in full force.

“Customers are back. “But when you don’t have the staff to work all the shifts, you start cutting back the hours,” Stewart said.

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“There are very few restaurants now open seven days a week and full hours.”

Canada’s restaurant industry has come under fire for two years of shutdowns, frequent layoffs and severe capacity restrictions. About 13,000 restaurants across the country have closed permanently.

The situation prompted the exodus of workers from this sector as people sought more stable income, changed their fields of work or went back to school. Canada has also welcomed fewer immigrants during the pandemic, newcomers who sometimes find work in the restaurant industry.


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Sticky Shock: Facing the Rising Cost of Inflation in Canada


Sticky Shock: Facing the Rising Cost of Inflation in Canada

Complicating matters further, the unemployment rate is now at its lowest in Canada, which Statistics Canada said was 5.2 per cent in April.

With the lucrative patio season surging, the restaurant industry expects employee vacancies to rise to 210,000 employees nationwide by summer, said Olivier Borbeau, vice president of federal affairs for Restaurants Canada.

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“It is very difficult for restaurants to find employees,” he said. “We don’t have enough workers.”

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Employment opportunities abound across the industry in both fast food restaurants and full service restaurants.

But the problem is more acute in kitchens.

“Red seal chefs, deputy chefs, line chefs — this is where the shortage is really hurting restaurants,” Stewart said.

During the pandemic, some restaurant operators have blamed government support for staff shortages, but the persistent shortages point to a protracted and complex problem. Some in the industry said long hours, precarious schedules, low wages, and stressful conditions – especially in a hot and crowded kitchen – were to blame.


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The Bank of Canada forecasts approximately 6% average inflation expectations in the first half of 2022 to April 25, 2022

Meanwhile, restaurants are also facing rising costs.

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Statistics Canada reported an annual inflation rate of 6.7 percent in March, while food costs – a key component of restaurants – increased further, with higher prices for dairy, pasta, meat and cooking oil.

“From gasoline to steak, it just got crazy,” Stewart said. “Costs are properly higher across the board.”

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Some restaurants eliminate less profitable meals like breakfast or lunch, generally serve fewer menu items and close during the slowest days of the week to reduce waste. Others offer smaller portion sizes, rethink what’s called the “center of the dish,” usually beef, chicken, or fish, or even order less food at one time.

“If you don’t sell something by (the expiration date) it’s gone, you have to get rid of it,” Stewart said.

“So they order less. They monitor the inventory, they control it, they monitor the plate size and they design the menus that are smaller.”

© 2022 Canadian Press



2022-05-15 15:28:32

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