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Staffing Challenges Survey Results

Posted by: FernieChamber
Monday, July 31, 2017

Executive Summary

Based on comments and feedback from businesses, the Fernie Chamber of Commerce surveyed business to better understand the current staffing situation in Fernie. 
The highlights from 52 respondents: 
60% of businesses have unfilled positions
20 businesses have been advertising for more than 5 weeks (71% of those advertising)
19 businesses note they are not receiving applications (67% of those advertising)
There are 12 positions unfilled offering over $20 per hour
43% of respondents are Very Concerned about their ability to fill future staffing requirements.


From survey respondents, there are 103 open positions in Fernie. Survey represents 8% of Fernie business licenses. 
Respondents were asked for comments on why applicants are not being hired. Some of the responses included: 
  • applicants have many job offers to choose from
  • not sufficiently skilled (e.g head chef/ sous chef/ line chef)
  • nobody with experience. Such a small pool of employees to choose from and seems nobody is in town right now
  • most applicants do not have any relevant experience or skill set
  • no qualified applicants
  • cost of living in Fernie
  • housing
  • no Canadian applicants only foreign applications with next to impossible hopes of being admitted to Canada in any sort of timely fashion
  • no resumes
  • have not received a lot of applications
Employee positions represented by responding businesses: 
Year-round full-time employees 330
Year-round part-time employee 228
Seasonal summer 224
Seasonal winter 173
Do you have ideas to address the staffing situation in Fernie? 
  • Staff housing, immigration assistance for staff, government letting more foreign workers into Canada
  • More affordable accommodation
  • A business ski-pass rate that would help us compete with the ski hill! We lose good workers to the ski hill in winter because of the free ski passes. More affordable housing would help too - it’s expensive for low wage workers. Help in attracting skilled workers to come to Fernie - general advertising in other communities. We are always in need of good chefs!
  • The community could examine ways to provide more cheap seasonal worker accommodation in town. 
  • Affordable housing for those minimum wage type employees that are key to success in a tourist town.
  • Get some more long term rentals, by enforcing short term rental zoning / regulations.
  • Improve housing costs, increase foreign visitation in non-winter months
  • Affordable housing/Staff housing
  • Tough to answer - growing tourism is great, awesome for business, but I think tourism has outgrown our natural workforce. If Fernie grows it's population around tourism as the main industry moving forward a clear plan must be established - housing is stable or close too, but lower income housing will become the next issue for sure. Challenging demands require innovative solutions - happy to discuss more in depth in a different forum tbd
  • Affordable housing
  • Build accommodations on the hill for winter workers
  • Combined Staff housing project
  • Bring back the foreign worker program 
  • Lobby government to allow seasonal communities to access a fast method to obtain tfw workers. We are spending thousands more trying in vain to hire workers every season and it’s very difficult to be in business. Get the city on board to allow developers to build staff housing in a timely manner.  
  • No other than speeding up the BC PNP process which will never happen
  • See if Fernie can get an exemption from the tougher LMIA requirements that were brought in a couple of years ago. 
  • Advertise the great tourism, biking, hiking, fishing, hunting, skiing, lakes, beautiful scenery
  • Perhaps advertising directly in local schools in the lead up to the summer break for summer seasonal positions. We never seem to struggle in winter - mostly summer.
  • Not really. Everybody needs to start somewhere they just don't want to.
  • Better wages not taking advantage of people because they want to live here and offering them below market value for the job they are qualified and experienced to do
  • Advertise in eastern Canada
  • recruitment of youth and housing for lower income families and individuals
  • The work pool here is atrocious. When you do get an interview, the person doesn't show up or they have been drinking or doing drugs. 
  • We have been successful accessing the EK Employment wage subsidy, programs like these are very advantageous
  • Ambassador program
The Fernie Chamber of Commerce is looking into programs to support businesses with the labour challenges present in our community. We are currently securing funding for a human resource program that may include seminars, one-on-one consulting, and contracted services. 

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