N.B. businesses still facing staff shortages as school returns – New Brunswick | Globalnews.ca

As the fall approaches and restaurants look to extend their summer seasons, a lack of staff continues to impact operations.

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Kelly Grant, the general manager of St. James’ Gate in Fredericton, says a lack of kitchen staff has meant cuts to the restaurant’s hours.

“We have been able to staff our kitchen but we have had to shut down on Mondays in order to give everybody an extra day off so everybody can have two days a week off,” she said.

“Because we’re short staffed in the kitchen, we haven’t been able to stay open for the hours that we’d really like to be open.”

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That’s not a unique problem, according to the CEO of Moncton’s Chamber of Commerce, John Wishart.

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“We’re already seeing it for instance here in Moncton downtown, a lot of restaurants do close on Monday. So if you’re making an appointment for lunch with somebody on Monday, you have to think, ‘OK who’s open, who’s not open,’” he said.

And as students are set to head back to school this week, Wishart says staff shortages may get worse.

“Losing students is just another layer on an underlying labour shortage that we’re seeing in the economy,” he said.

“You know baby boomers are retiring, there aren’t as many people entering the labour force.”

Earlier this year, the province announced it was cancelling the EI Connect program that allowed some students to collect employment insurance while attending school. In an email obtained by Global News, the Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour said that the program was being cancelled partly because it may act as a disincentive for students to hold part-time jobs.

“Given the province’s current labour market challenges, NB-EI Connect also conflicts with the province’s efforts to assist employers in filling job vacancies,” the email said.

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“It will be interesting to see whether that translates into more students maybe deciding to work part-time this fall and winter. It may but it’s probably still too early to see that clearly,” Wishart said.

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Back at St. James’ Gate, Grant says the impending start of school won’t impact her too much. She expects business to slow through the fall and will have some part-time staff on weekends to help pick up the slack.

But in a bid to attract kitchen staff, Grant has raised wages and is offering other incentives as well.

“Whether it’s health benefits, extra free meals, whatever it is that we’re going to do to make them happy,” she said.

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