Victoria hotels set aside rooms to attract workers for hard-to-fill roles

Victoria hotels set aside rooms to attract workers for hard-to-fill roles

Lunch orders are underway, and the kitchen is busy at the Hotel Grand Pacific, but behind the scenes — it’s a delicate dance to find enough staff.

And when it comes to housekeepers, The Hotel Grand Pacific cannot find enough.

As of recently, they’ve been hiring workers through the federal Temporary Foreign Workers program to fill the positions, but now there’s an added incentive of affordable housing at the hotel, according to Ian Wish, Director of Sales and Marketing, Hotel Grand Pacific.

“We definitely will be having a few people staying at the hotel that work at the hotel,” Wish said.

It’s expected to be a busy summer for tourism, and the Hotel Grand Pacific would likely sell out of rooms.

But it’s forced to set aside a percentage of rooms for staff.

It’s a trend not just in resorts, but in many communities around the province.

Ingrid Jarrett, CEO of the British Columbia Hotel Association, said it’s a growing and troubling trend.

“We’re seeing it all over the province. This is not new.  But this year will be worse than it’s ever been before,” Jarrett said.

The most difficult jobs to fill revolve around the culinary department, cooks, kitchen helpers, servers and bartenders.

But Jarrett said it’s also increasingly difficult to find supervisors, managers and general managers because they all need a place to live.

With an industry is struggling to find enough workers, and a shortage of affordable housing, offering rooms helps but rooms aren’t a substitute for homes.

“This is not a good solution for them. They deserve a home with a kitchen, with a garden, or whatever that configuration may look like,” Jarrett said.

The Hotel Grand Pacific is looking into a domestic housing program not just for foreign workers but potentially for Canadian employees as well.

Until something changes, they’re stuck trying to work around a barrier to hiring staff that doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon.

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Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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