With the BC unemployment rate remaining at a record low, the hospitality sector finds itself grappling with a growing labour shortage problem. The labour challenge is not only a problem for hotels, motels, and resorts, but also restaurants, pubs, and retail outlets – all integral components of a thriving hospitality industry. Labour supply shortages in the hotel sector remain the single biggest issue of concern for hoteliers. These labour shortages are a challenge year-round but are especially acute during seasonal peak periods.
British Columbia maintains the country’s lowest unemployment rate at 4.7 percent, with further forecasts that project more than 106,000 tourism and hospitality-related job openings across the province between 2018 and 2028 (go2hr, n.d.).
Our workforce crisis is the single greatest barrier to our sector’s recovery. At its peak we were 82,000 people short in BC in April 2021, currently there are 54,000 unfilled positions, and based on our need to meet increased tourism demands, it is estimated that we must increase hotel workforce to at least 500,000 by 2030 in Canada.
The BCHA recommends that:
New provisions of the Temporary Foreign Worker Protection Act came into effect on October 1, 2019, which fundamentally changed the relationship among TWFs, recruiters and employers. The new Act increases the protection of employees and allows workers who find themselves in abusive job situations to apply for open work permits that will allow them to find other jobs in Canada.
While these changes were necessary to ensure the protection of TFWs, significant changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program are needed to increase the number of TFWs in British Columbia. Without the creation of new streamlined paths for sector-specific workers, the industry will continue to see more positions un-filled, putting further stress on existing employees, and ultimately damaging the viability of Canadian businesses.
The BCHA recommends that:
A new narrative based on quantifiable research is complete to ensure the number of positions, the skills required, the pay levels including benefits are quantified and the positive stories of the contribution of our industry for society, communities, and the economy are developed.
The BCHA echo’s the 6 recommendations of the Hotel Association of Canada to:
The BCHA also advocates to the BC provincial government for the Provincial Nominee Program and will continue to ask for the refugee visa program with partners to have an exemption for the 9 month proof of work experience, as well, to expedite and review the numerical ratings for the hospitality positions which are eligible. It is the BCHA’s goal to fill the allocation for the PnP program if possible.