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THE EDITOR’S DESK


Director René J. Roy is a seasoned book editor, photographer, member of the Port aux Basques & Area business chamber, and diehard Montreal Canadiens hockey fan. He likes to joke about most of these things on Twitter as @hfxhabby.

Over the last few months, one thing is readily noticeable around town. It’s becoming harder and harder to get something after hours. Most businesses in the area of Port Aux Basques do tend to shutter their doors after 5 pm, (Wreckhouse included), unless they are in the service industry. But over the last number of months, it has become apparent that even the service industry has needed to change their hours. It all seems to boil down to one thing. Workers. There just aren’t any. Wreckhouse Press has tried multiple times to hire a worker or two to lighten our load here at the office. We often don’t even get a single résumé, even though we offer above minimum wage, and that includes the time we applied through a Chamber of Commerce program. We aren’t the only ones. Hotels, coffee shops, gas stations, restaurants, convenience stores, have all told me personally that the one thing they are looking for is staff. For example, I love getting a coffee when I head out of town, but it’s gotten to the point now that I need to take a Go-Cup before I leave the house. I can’t rely on the local shops being open after 9. There are only a couple of convenience stores left in town. So choices have become limited as a result. The addition of a new pharmacy is wonderful, but unless you have a car, a stroll to Grand Bay from Channel isn’t appealing, especially given the recent weather. Almost all new jobs in town seem to be a result of a government grant, as a patchwork means for some to get enough time in to get their stamps. It seems like an epidemic throughout the region and beyond that some want to work a bit, then not work a bit. On, off again, and that’s not what the system was designed for either. Living in a small town always presents a certain set of challenges. From shopping options being limited to perhaps not having parts for a foreign car. But when nobody is willing to take on a job, its not only a hardship on the business owner, it becomes a runaway train threatening to derail the economy of the town. A quick glance at the StatsCan website shows that the total number of job vacancies in the country has increased by over 185,000 in the last year. So while it may not be exclusive to our hometown, it can certainly have a more profound impact on us. Think of it this way. Lets say I have a huge company in Corner Brook. I employ 10 per cent of the people, and now I need to fill those jobs. I have a huge pool of people to hire from, being in a bigger area. Now let’s move my company to Port aux Basques. Suddenly, having to hire 10 per cent here is a much more daunting task. If folks are not willing to work, then one thing is certain. Businesses will struggle and then shut down or relocate to a bigger urban centre where staff are easier to find. Moving away to bigger and better things has been the dream of many of our youth. But unless something can be done to stem the tide, soon there might be less to leave behind anyway. I have spoken with several people who have said they are working two, sometimes three jobs, just in an attempt to keep things afloat. The provincial and national economy don’t look like they are going to improve anytime soon. Grocery prices are anticipated to rise even more, and then you’ve got carbon tax increasing. But at least we’re all so much healthier with this new sugar tax, and I guess that’s a good thing because there are no doctors or nurses anyway. When I was much (much) younger, there were stores galore lining Main Street. Beauchamps, Family Clothing, Art & Rons, etc. are just a few that spring immediately to mind. But back then, it was more fun to go to Corner Brook to shop, and not bother with the locals. Now because so many left town to shop, the options for shopping here have adapted, and now we are left with almost no choice but to shop elsewhere. I love this town and I want to see it thrive. Offering choice of product and services is one way to make sure that the town has what it needs to succeed, but there isn’t much I can do about not having staff. And that seems to be the struggle of almost every business owner in town, unless it’s a family business. Even then it doesn’t always mean continuity. Just look at Hockey Gales in the valley. One can only hope that something changes, and soon, or there will come a day when we won’t be the Gateway to Newfoundland anymore. We will be the doormat.

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