Staffing shortages that have caused closures, or cut back hours, in sectors from lifeguards to hospitality haven’t improved a lot over the summer in the Maritimes.
Working at the beach means having an office with a view, but unlike the countless waves and swimmers lifeguards watch over, staff at Rainbow Haven Beach in Nova Scotia is limited.
“Keeping our head above water, so to speak,” said Paul D’Eon with the Life Saving Society Nova Scotia.
Provincial beaches are staffed despite worker shortages this summer thanks to overtime and shuffling people around.
“There still is a shortage but we’re doing the best we can,” D’Eon said. “We have some supervisors who are doing fill in shifts, a lot of our pools are on limited times for swims and for swim lessons.”
Staffing struggles also continue to pop up at restaurants.
“Definitely, it’s gotten worse and it’s probably going to get even worse as we move along,” said Gordon Stewart with the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia.
An already thin labour pool is about to shrink when students head back to school next month.
“What they’re trying to do is make a tighter, shorter menu to make it easier on kitchen staff, where the greatest need is,” said Stewart.
Adam McCullogh’s business, The Millstone Public House, is better off than last summer, but he says the kitchen is still short-staffed.
“Unfortunately, it means longer wait times for the food,” he said. “But our biggest concern is burning out the staff that we do have.”
Halifax Transit continues to cancel trips and the union representative believes burn out is pushing people to quit.
“They’re just deciding they can find competitive wages elsewhere and they’re leaving and still having their weekends off, their nights off, even their summers off if you decide to go drive a school bus,” said Shane O’Leary, president of ATU Local 508.
Canada’s minister of finance and deputy prime minister believes the focus needs to be on training.
“It’s just common sense. We need to help those people get the training so they can do those jobs,” said Chrystia Freeland, who spoke in Dartmouth on Thursday.
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