Quebec restaurant reopens, but some ex-workers have no plans to return

Montreal — Quebec restaurants will be allowed to reopen on Monday for the first time in more than a month, but some ex-workers say they aren’t looking for new jobs in the industry.

Mirovan Daniel looks for a new job when the state’s second restaurant dining room is closed in the fall of 2020, when then-employer Taco Restaurant Grumman ’78 completely shuts down the main location. I decided to.

The cafeteria was closed and there were no tourists in the city, so there was little work to go around. “Everyone was fighting for a part-time job,” he said in a recent interview.

Daniel, who is currently entering data, said his new job wasn’t very interesting, but the $ 30 / hour wage was better, and he could do the job even if the COVID-19 situation deteriorated. Don’t worry about losing.

“There is no match for restaurant work, rush, drive, energy, teams, people you meet. No match for that,” he said. But not enough to pull him back. “You have to pay the rent, you have to survive.”

The dining room of a restaurant in Quebec was ordered to close from December 30 due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases in the state. Under the new rules, restaurants will be open on Mondays with 50% capacity, limiting the number of people in different households who can share a table.

Liam Thomas, 32, decided to leave the industry last summer, but said it wasn’t his choice if he hadn’t yet experienced two blockades when the restaurant was open. rice field.

“I was yelled at millions of times in my culinary career, and I just went out and I never returned,” former Rhein Cook Thomas said in a recent interview. Told. “It was caused by the blockade, possible knowledge, and work instability.”

Thomas, who said he started working in a restaurant at the age of 18, is currently working as a transportation clerk at a hospital in Montreal, helping patients get x-rays and other appointments in the hospital.

Thomas still said he sometimes misses the kitchen rush, but his new job is less stressful, better paid, and offers more vacation.

“The problems exposed by the pandemic have always existed for restaurant workers,” said Kaitlin Doucette of the Canadian Restaurant Workers Union, a group advocating for better working conditions in the industry. She said workers have long lacked health benefits, paid sick leave, and the precarious nature of work in the industry can lead to abuse and sexual harassment.

One of the biggest challenges of the recent closure in Quebec is that in a recent interview, workers were only eligible for $ 300 a week in federal aid.

Montrealer Michele Martell, who worked at the bar for 25 years, said she started looking for a new job because it wasn’t enough to survive.

“I had no choice. With the amount they gave us, my savings would have disappeared for the third time. It’s hard to save money, and closing comes. Sometimes the money melts, “she said. “And it’s not only economical, it also has to work for one’s morale to meet people.”

When the bars and restaurants reopened for the second time in June 2021, Martell said he was confident that it would continue. Most Quebécois were vaccinated and the company followed public health orders.

But with this third closure, she was afraid that it could happen again. Martell said she would look for her job as a bartender, but she also intends to continue working part-time in her new job at her senior’s residence.

Martin Juneau, owner of Pastaga, a restaurant in Montreal’s Little Italy district, said he was worried about finding staff to reopen and said he felt like it was open for the first time.

“We had a lot of employees who eventually wanted to move in another direction in another industry,” he said in a recent interview.

Juneau said he closed the cafeteria before being ordered by the state government, but he is worried that he may have to do it again. “We are afraid of the next fall, and we are afraid that we do not have the energy to reach the next fall,” he said.

He said early in the pandemic, he was forced to close several other businesses, such as restaurants, wine shops, corner grocery stores, and ice cream shops, and they wouldn’t come back. “We are the exact opposite of expansion,” Juneau said.

Benoit Dessureault, owner of Chez Delmo in Old Montreal, said he was able to continue paying long-time employees with the help of food trucks. Some of his workers were fired, but he said he found a project to hire and work with them during the closure.

Still, reopening means that the restaurant, which was crowded with lawyers and businessmen at lunchtime, is now planning to focus more on dinner, he said.

“The office tower is still empty, so we can’t keep the same business proposals as before,” Dessureault said in an interview.

Dessureault said he wants customers to be more patient and understandable when they return to restaurants that still face strict public health regulations.

Along Jacob Celebrin

Canadian press