While the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all sectors to varying degrees, the restaurant industry in Canada has been hit particularly hard.
According to a deep dive from The Monitor and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), the pandemic forced many restaurant employees into different sectors, and better paying jobs.
As of September 2021, the industry employed about 180,000 fewer workers compared to February 2020 — the dawn of the pandemic.
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By February 2021, almost a quarter of a million hospitality employees had found a new line of work.
One of the main revelations of the analysis is the fact that the industry may not be compatible with the post-pandemic labour market, due to the wages that are offered being too low to entice new workers.
“Given sufficient time, it’s possible that the food and accommodation industry may build up a new pool of underemployed workers from youth who graduated into the working world during the pandemic or from future newcomers, although this will certainly take time,” writes David Macdonald, senior economist with the CCPA.
Wages in the pre-pandemic world in the industry averaged around $14.35 an hour. In the second quarter of 2021, the average was $14.75.
Adjusted for inflation, it actually suggests the real wage fell by 0.1%.
One of the things that’s striking about food/acc sector is how many of its workers aren’t sitting on the sidelines, instead a 1/4 mil of them are back in the labour market, just in a different sector. @ccpa https://t.co/OJsoxPRbxI pic.twitter.com/2LR3xePmKd
— David Macdonald (@DavidMacCdn) October 13, 2021
It is well known now that employees of the hospitality industry have been hit hard by the pandemic in more ways than one, particularly when it comes to how staff are being treated.
There has been much anger and hate directed at staff around controversial topics like vaccine cards and other restrictions and limitations.
This, combined with numerous closures and operations being inhibited by COVID-19, which could limit the number of shifts you get, makes for a bleak employment situation when trying to make ends meet.
The Monitor points out that offering lower wages means more vacancies, and that this has always been a problem in the industry.
In short, one of the main ways the industry could recover is through higher base wages, which would drive up interest for new workers in the industry.
See the full report here.