An intensifying labor shortage is rippling through the Canadian economy, forcing businesses to curtail operations and reduce hours.
The situation is a result of a chronic worker shortage worsened by the crush of new COVID-19 cases forcing many into isolation. School closures have also left some workers scrambling for child care and unable to go to work. The result is rising employee shortages, prompting airlines to cancel flights, drugstores to close early, restaurants to shutter or move to takeout only, and municipalities to warn of delayed waste collection.
Meanwhile, some provinces have tried to ease staffing woes by shortening isolation periods, allowing people to return to work sooner. Yet the sheer number of new daily cases caused by the highly transmissible Omicron variant continues to leave many confined to their homes and businesses struggling to remain open.
Even those that remain open are facing a scheduling nightmare as mounting unplanned absences -- on top of shifting public health restrictions -- make operating difficult. "Omicron has resulted in more unplanned absences, not to mention complications from sudden government restrictions," Retail Council of Canada spokeswoman Michelle Wasylyshen said. A surge of people unable to work and changing public health measures "throw schedules that were often planned weeks in advance upside down," she added.
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