Businesses face significant staffing shortages amid pandemic recovery efforts

As businesses throughout the economy continue to battle their way back from pandemic losses, many are facing a new fight as staffing shortages grow across many sectors of the economy.

"It's challenging; everywhere you look there's a door that closes," said Bassell Khalil, owner of Napoli's Cafe in Stittsville.

At Napoli's, after nearly two years of battling lost revenues, they're faced with this new fight.

"The business is there, but unfortunately we just need more staff to keep going. There's business to be had but we can't get it at the moment," said Khalil.

For months, the restaurant has been looking to hire new staff but the calls have gone unanswered.

"I've put out ads—Facebook, Instagram, Indeed—I've done it all. I have something posted on our door, and there are no bites," said Nicole Khalil, Manager at Napoli's.

And they aren't alone — the Canadian Federation of Independent Business said at the start of 2020 that 79 per cent of its member were already having staffing issues.

"Now with COVID, we have new challenges added on to the labour challenges that already existed," said Julie Kwiecinski, Director of Provincial Affairs for Ontario with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

In Tremblant, a tourist hot spot in Quebec, the same issues ring true.

"Right now, we can say that we have anywhere between 200 to 400 jobs that are needed," said Cristina Romero, General Manager of the Tremblant Resort Association.

The resort association has been forced to close some businesses on days they'd typically be open in order to alleviate the pressure on the staff they do have.

"To keep staff safe and sound, and rested enough to be able to keep their jobs, for our stores restaurants and hotels to keep their employees," said Romero.

The concern about impacts on already diminishing and overworked staff are also true at Napoli's.

"Our cooks are basically working 60-hour weeks," said Khalil.

Some experts and business owners believe the benefits offered for workers by the federal government have been a deterrent for some to return to work.

But with those programs set to end in late October, there is hope finding new staff will become easier.