Krystin Kempton

Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce President Krystin Kempton

The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce wants senior governments to do something about a labour shortage.

In a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Premier John Horgan and their finance and economic development ministers, the chamber says there is an urgent need to fill what it calls the employment gap.

“We frequently hear from our membership that the most significant operational challenge is access to labour, and the while the situation existed prior to the pandemic, COVID-19 has only heightened the crisis,” said Krystin Kempton, Greater Vernon Chamber president, in a news release.

“Many vacancies go unfilled, meaning some businesses have reduced hours or are unable to complete orders. This scenario is particularly common within the manufacturing, agricultural and retail sectors in the North Okanagan,” she said.

Among the factors responsible for the labour shortage, according to the chamber, are cost of housing, lack of affordable, accessible childcare, an aging population, and access to training and education.

“While progress has been made by government and non-profits in constructing housing for those at the lower end of the financial spectrum, many individuals and families in the middle-income bracket find it difficult to rent or purchase a home in the current market,” said Kempton.

The chamber recommends a study be conducted to determine why people aren’t pursing employment opportunities and what barriers exist in returning to work, that immigration programs not be restricted to specific sectors, along with various housing, child-care and training measures.