Labour Market crisis grows in Midwestern Ontario

The labour shortage has become so severe, some Midwestern Ontario employers may have to close their doors if they can’t get workers.

That’s according to the executive director of the Four County Labour Market Planning Board, Gemma Mendez Smith, who pointed to the recent closure of Godfathers Pizza in Wingham due to a lack of available workers.

“There are definitely businesses that are seeing the negative effects of the pandemic, and if it continues for long, we’re going to see possibly those businesses close up because of that,” Mendez-Smith continued.

She stressed its time to take action.

“I think we’ve done a lot of studies. We understand the situation. What are we going to to about it, well let’s start doing some, you know, even if we have to do some pilot activity around how do we address housing and transportation and childcare for our workers,” she said.

She added, “we need to consider what will bring workers to the area. She says we will still need those service level jobs, we still need manufacturing workers. All of those jobs that are being advertised we need to fill. but we need to consider also those things that are affecting our labour market.”

She said the pandemic made the situation worse.

“Many of the people who have dependent care responsibilities have removed themselves from the labour market because now it’s hard to find day care, and they’re having to make those decisions around what their home responsibilities are,” she explained.

Mendes-Smith said there is a lack of housing for all levels of income, but especially affordable housing. She adds that income is not keeping up with skyrocketing real estate costs.

“So while salaries or wages might have increased by, even if it was 25%, housing probably has increased 250%,” she said.