Quebec and P.E.I. are having trouble finding and maintaining young and skilled chefs. The problem is growing and causing serious concerns for industry experts.
Quebec restaurateurs say that the problem is compounded by two issues: young people are migrating to major population centres like Montreal, which is leaving smaller municipalities struggling to fill open vacancies, and that chefs are usually paid a lot less than servers when tips are factored in.
One Quebec restaurateur cited a Conference Board of Canada study that said if these trends continue, there will be 8,700 unfilled jobs in Quebec’s foodservice industry by 2020.
P.E.I. is also facing the same labour problem, as the province is concerned about vacant chef positions for the upcoming tourist season.
Kathy Livingstone, director of training and education for the Tourism Industry Association of P.E.I. (TIAPEI) told the CBC that their long-term job training program for youth which focuses on cooking skills is barely attracting any interest.
The $84,000 program launched in 2017 and included 12 participants who completed 10 weeks of classroom training and then 12 weeks of on-the-job training. Employers who hired the students were reimbursed for 50 per cent of their wages through provincial subsidies. However, out of the 12 participants, only two completed the program.
The province is going to try the same program again this year, but with 10 participants.
Carl Nicholson, president of the P.E.I. Restaurant Association told the CBC that the foodservice labour shortage is becoming a major issue and that as a result some restaurants are only opening for evening service.