Time to stop blaming CERB

In Kerry Campbell’s recent CBC article entitled “P.E.I. hospitality industry struggling to find staff as tourism booms”, he describes a current situation in which hospitality businesses are currently having difficulty finding staff. I too have heard from friends in the restaurant business that this is the case.

What I also continue seeing in other media articles, including this one, is that people “just don’t want to go back to work”…or that financial incentives such as CERB have created a workforce “comfortable” and not wishing to return. Even our own premier in May, 2020 derided CERB and indicated that this dreaded situation may occur.

How often will we going to see these comments going forward. The ones that “blame CERB” for creating the current situation facing these businesses when the real issue is that neither the current minimum wage and/or CERB is a sufficient livable wage.

According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the current livable wage for Charlottetown is actually $19.30. This is a far cry from the $15 and Fairness campaign of 10 years ago, and yet PEI’s minimum wage of $13 is still shy of that very important campaign. And so, the issue is not a lack of available staff. The issue is that of people are looking for alternatives, instead of making less than a livable wage.

Unfortunately, business owners in the article indicate that the answer lies in temporary foreign workers. This is wrong, and they know it. Why should temporary foreign workers be made to work for less than livable wages?

These are scenarios in which increased labour organization has to happen. This is an opportunity for unions on Prince Edward Island to organize within the hospitality industry. Workers deserve better from their employers.

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Jason Alward

Jason Alward

Hailing from Eastern Canada, Jason brings 25 years of visual communication experience to the table. With his early career spent in large corporate agencies working with such clients as Pepsi, Blackberry and Samsung, he soon realized a need for more substantially fulfilling projects. In 2016, he found this rewarding work in his role as art director for one of the largest public service unions in Ontario, providing communications for its 140,000 members.

In 2016, with this grassroots interest, he launched Verge, an agency with the goal of delivering high quality visual communications to individuals and organizations aligned with those same grassroot ideals.

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