Massive backlog of applications for foreign workers leaves N.S. restaurants with 8,000 jobs to fill


The homeowners of Cha Baa Thai, a distinguished Halifax Thai restaurant chain, just lately accomplished a three-year undertaking to open their fifth location in Halifax, however they can not open its doorways as a result of they’ve nobody to work inside. 

Kim Dao and her husband Wen Prathumma personal 4 Cha Baa Thai restaurants in Halifax, Bedford and Dartmouth. All 4 places have diminished hours. 

Not solely are they struggling to rent native workers, a big downside for restaurants through the pandemic, but in addition foreign workers. And they don’t seem to be the one ones. 

According to Gordon Stewart, the chief director of the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, restaurants are going through prolonged delays within the processing of foreign employee candidates. 

“It’s costly to maintain the place empty. Very costly, and we do not understand how lengthy we will deal with these budgets,” stated Dao.

The new Cha Baa Thai location wants roughly 10 workers together with 4 cooks. It at the moment has zero. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Stewart says roughly 30 per cent of restaurants in Nova Scotia are attempting to recruit foreign workers to fill an almost 8,000-worker scarcity within the sector.

“If you set an utility in July, it is most likely simply getting processed now in October. So that is very difficult as a result of if you want a employee, you want them now, you do not want them six months or eight months or 10 months away,” stated Stewart. 

He stated the influence of labour shortages is obvious in lots of restaurants as they scale back hours, shut one or two days every week and restrict objects on their menu. 

And whereas hiring foreign workers is not the best reply, it is a method to fill the rift. He stated the province’s restaurant business employed about 35,000 individuals year-round earlier than the pandemic. Now they’ve roughly 27,000 workers.

Restaurant workers not a immigration precedence 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) units priorities for momentary foreign employee applications primarily based on occupations. Since early within the pandemic, they’ve prioritized workers in agriculture and well being care, says Stuart Isherwood, media relations adviser at IRCC.

Isherwood says that is the place labour is most urgently wanted. Chefs and servers do not make the precedence checklist. 

Last 12 months, the federal authorities launched $85 million in funding to handle utility backlogs for work permits, research permits and everlasting resident card renewals.

Isherwood says the usual time for visas submitted abroad is 60 days and work allow extension applications submitted in Canada is 120 days. However, that timeline isn’t met. 

“Due to the division’s backlog of applications and regardless of our efforts, we all know that many candidates are experiencing appreciable wait occasions for the processing of their applications. We proceed to do every thing we will to scale back processing occasions,” stated Isherwood. 

IRCC offers an estimate of processing time for applications from all over the world on its web site.

Halifax MP Andy Fillmore has raised the problem to the IRCC and is working to enhance processing occasions, in accordance to his assistant Breton Cousins. 

Long wait solely to be taught the appliance is rejected

Dao says the Labour Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) — a doc that Canadian employers should full to present the federal government they want to make use of a foreign employee after being unable to rent a Canadian — is time-consuming and costly.

Kim Dao says regardless of providing a $22/hour wage, she will be able to’t discover anybody regionally who desires to work within the kitchen. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Employers recruiting foreign workers should promote jobs on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank. 

Pratima Devichand, an immigration advisor, says a number of years in the past, the Job Bank would checklist language necessities as English, French, bilingual and different. Now it is both English, French or bilingual.

Because of that, she says abroad visa officers typically refuse permits to workers who will not be fluent English or French audio system. 

“I see this downside of making an attempt to convey workers throughout industries. I’ve shoppers who’re in well being care, building, in trucking, all making an attempt to convey individuals to allow them to maintain their companies going and these roadblocks, very comparable roadblocks, happen throughout the board,” says Devichand.

With Nova Scotia’s growing older inhabitants, she says, bringing immigrants to help the financial system is progressively vital. 

Dao says through the pandemic, she’s filed 10 LMIA applications that value about $1,000 every, however just one Thai employee obtained a allow to work with her. She stated many of the workers she’s making an attempt to convey right here labored in her restaurants previously, however have been despatched house when former prime minister Stephen Harper carried out a four-year restrict on foreign workers in 2015. 

“Canada desires to improve immigrants, however Service Canada’s mandate is [to hire] unemployed and underemployed Canadians, not immigrants,” says Devichand.


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