An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
EVERYWHERE WE GO, there are “Now hiring” or “Help wanted” signs on local businesses.
StatsCan reports the country has regained 100 per cent of jobs lost during the early lockdown days of the pandemic. In September alone, 378,000 new jobs were created, most of them full-time.
So what accounts for all those unfilled jobs as reflected by the explosion of “Helped Wanted” signs?
One possibility is that the labour market can’t keep up to demand in this newly booming economy.
Another is that many workers have found other employment and don’t want to go back to their old jobs.
But there’s a third option, which is that pandemic wage subsidies have created a reluctance to go looking for work.
That suspicion might be why the business community seems pleased with the shifts in support by the feds, characterized as less broadly based and more targeted to helping specific sectors that are still struggling.
Several programs were allowed to expire on the weekend, while others will be extended.
But the idea that the workforce is full of couch potatoes is a generalization and an offensive one at that. Many of those help-wanted signs are at businesses that pay their employees at the lower end of the wage scale, and provide a modicum of benefits.
Some have even fought against increases to the minimum wage.
Economist Jim Stanford says federal supports for workers impacted by the pandemic aren’t the culprit in hiring difficulties. What’s needed are better wages and working conditions. Coincidentally, today is the last day of provincial consultations on paid sick leave, a move most British Columbians agree with. The only real question is whether it will be three days or 10.
Whichever it is, it will keep work places safer and retain employees longer.
Businesses have been tremendously innovative and resilient during this pandemic. But, maybe they need to look to themselves when they wonder why it’s hard to find good workers.
I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.