Montreal’s patio will resume, but bar and restaurant owners say there is a shortage of staff

Montreal — Karoline Gagnon worked as a bartender or bar manager in Montreal for 25 years. She says she was thinking about changing her career, but the money and freedom that her lifestyle offered was just too fascinating.

But more than a year after the COVID-19 pandemic, Gagnon says it won’t serve drinks when the restaurant patio reopens in the city on Friday and the bar reopens in the weeks that follow. .. A 51-year-old woman gave up tequila shots of roses, geraniums and tulips.

“I was very happy when the bar closed because I was so tired,” Ganyon said in a recent interview. “In addition, there seemed to be a small lucky star overhead. I found a gardening night class that I could attend.”

Gagnon is included in more than 25% of Canadian workers whose careers have gone astray due to the COVID-19 pandemic, data from dispatch company Robert Half shows. And when bars and restaurants are preparing to reopen in Montreal, many owners are afraid that there aren’t enough workers left in the industry.

“I’m not worried about not finding enough staff, I’m sure there aren’t enough,” said Peter Sergakis, chairman of the Quebec Bar Owners Association, in a recent interview.

He said his members are already feeling upward pressure on wages from the rest of the industry.

For example, Sergakis, head of Union Detenancy in Bar, Quebec, said bar managers used to make $ 20 to $ 25 an hour, but now many are looking for $ 40. He said he was.

Ganyon said he enrolled in a gardening program after the bar closed and was hired by a flower shop when he finished his internship. The music in her new workplace is never noisy.

“I never got back to work until three or four in the morning, which would be strange,” Gagnon said, adding that it took months to get used to going to bed early.

Robert Half’s regional vice president, Robert O’Leary, is the largest of people between the ages of 18 and 24, according to a survey of 500 Canadian workers and 600 senior executives by his dispatching company. Fifty-five percent said the pandemic had forced them to rethink their careers. He added that 28% of respondents wanted to pursue a more meaningful job due to the health crisis.

“When I talked to Quebec’s clients and candidates, people adapted (pandemic) and chose different career paths,” said O’Leary, who has been in the dispatch industry for over 25 years. ..

In March 2020, Jonathan Frederick worked at one of Montreal’s most famous poutine restaurants when Quebec’s Prime Minister François Walgo ordered the first blockade. 31-year-old Frederick said his restaurant was adapted to takeaway meals, but he didn’t want to stay in the kitchen.

“My girlfriend works at a health and social welfare center, and I think it’s It would be inappropriate if she got sick and contaminated the entire youth center just because I wanted to provide poutine, “Frederick said.

However, Frederick admitted that it was difficult to imagine working outside the restaurant industry at first.

“It’s easy to be trapped in energy, lifestyle, all of them,” he said.

According to Frederick, he took a recording lesson with a friend who works in the television industry and enrolled in an information technology class at a junior college.

He may return to the restaurant and bar industry while pursuing a new career, but he says he wants to keep his options open and is looking for the best opportunity.

Frederick’s attitude reflects a wide range of sentiment among young people, O’Leary said, and employers, especially those in the service industry, need to be sensitive to the changing mood of the workforce.

“You have to find an opportunity to connect and stay connected with that edge and your staff,” he said. “People want to be part of something and if they feel they are invested, they will be more interested in staying.”

Sergakis said restaurants and bars in the city would need to slowly reopen and give them time to hire and train new staff in order to survive.

“We see smaller facilities, smaller times, smaller menus,” he said.

Sergakis said he wasn’t worried about one thing-returning customers, while changes in the labor market caused anxiety among members of his association.

“People who come back will give me more advice. I’m glad to meet someone I haven’t seen in a while,” he said.

Virginia Ann