Missing Mondays: Provincewide worker shortage forces restaurants to rethink Monday service

Inside Victoria’s iconic Dutch Bakery, a small bell rings every time an order comes through the kitchen.

Since Labour Day weekend, the bell hasn’t rung once at the Fort Street diner on a Monday.

"Being open six days a week was just no longer a functional option for us,” said co-owner Michelle Bryne.

“So, since the Labour Day weekend we've been closed Mondays."

Like so many restaurants in B.C., the pastry proprietor has been forced to shift hours of operation because of a major lack of staff.

The Dutch Bakery is now closed Sundays and Mondays so the staff it has kept through the pandemic doesn’t burn out.

"This is certainly not how we wanted to do business,” Bryne told CTV News Vancouver Island.

Victoria’s Downtown Business Association has watched as the restaurant industry has been pushed to new limits during the COVID-19 crisis.

It says many food service operators are now toying with hours in a way they have never before, all in hopes of staying afloat with so few staff.

"It's not like they've been having a great year-and-a-half,” said Jeff Bray, the business association’s executive director.

“It's been very tight all along and this is just another impact of COVID-19.”

Province-wide, the B.C. Foodservice and Restaurant Association estimates the industry is short more than 40,000 workers.

"It's going to be 10 years in B.C. before we have enough workers to handle our own economy,” said Ian Tostenson, the association’s president and CEO.

“That's why immigration is so important and why we are in such trouble now."

The Development Bank of Canada recently released a survey suggesting 55 per cent of small and medium-sized businesses cannot find enough staff.

The survey found the lack of workers is stunting the financial growth of the businesses in a major way.

Back at the Dutch Bakery, owners say hiring staff is nearly impossible right now, meaning they don’t expect Mondays will be coming back any time soon.

"Definitely for the foreseeable future; there just aren't people who want to work," Bryne said.