Prosperity brings its own challenges

Talking with many retailers, from Saugeen Shores to Kincardine and the more fringe rural communities, finding employees is becoming a very serious problem.

The region is experiencing unprecedented growth for several reasons. First and foremost is
Bruce Nuclear Power and its positive refurbishment plans that will take the area into an economic boom for the next 20 years and beyond.

Next, is the newly constituted legalization of cannabis with the development of a major producer in Bruce County that is rapidly expanding and requiring more workers.

Then, there is the tourism and retirement destination quotient where seniors are looking at retiring in a lakeshore environment and tourists are recognizing the proximity of beach and park vacation destinations to their urban locations.

With rapid growth however, comes several challenges. One of the major challenges, given the above, is the number of bodies that are required to work in retail, in the hospitality industry and in areas such as daycare and others that provide the services that the population expects.

In talking with many business owners, there is a common thread … “We can’t find people to work”.  According to owners, there are fewer young people coming forward to work part-time.  “Youth, particularly high-school age, don’t even seem to be interested in working.”

Unfortunately, for some of those small businesses, the owners are also saying they may have to close their doors, whether temporarily or permanently.

On the other side, employees are saying that the minimum wage increase has definitely made a difference in their lives … to the detriment. Their hours have been drastically cut, those who have seniority are asked to reduce their days as they already earn a higher wage and many have now been forced to take on a second job in order to survive.

With the anticipated dramatic growth in the region, that includes major hotel chains, what is going to happen when businesses that are here today cannot fill their rosters of employees?

This is the kind of question that local rural communities are being faced with … an aging population that means fewer young people for jobs, small businesses that cannot afford the minimum wage increase to be paid to employees, a higher cost of living resulting in higher housing costs that people simply cannot afford and that does not attract hourly-paid employees.

What is the solution/solutions?  It is a question that communities are struggling with.

Prosperity brings its own challenges.