Companies Portneuf struggling for years with a lack of manpower have not seen their situation improve, despite the sharp increase in the number of unemployed, which some associate with the aid of the government.
Because of the containment measures, the unemployment rate in the National Capital is currently 9.8%. In 2019, it was maintained at an average of 3.5%.
“The government programs are very generous, there is no incentive to return to work quickly, especially that the existing tax is deferred. The program is a good thing, but it is a little perverse. Our employees have been very collaborative, but for the acquisition workforce, it is something else,” says Nicolas Girard, director of human resources at Structures Ultratec, a manufacturer of wooden structures.
Delivery canadian emergency (PCU) allows many workers affected by the crisis to receive up to 75% of their salary. A similar program (PCUE) addressed to students.
Structures Ultratec has a factory in Sainte-Catherine-de-la-Jacques-Cartier, which employs 65 people.
“It displays, it displays and it does not run to our doors. It is very similar to previous years. We would need 10 more employees to keep pace. It does not even have to expand on it. The job that we can’t do is going elsewhere. And sometimes it is elsewhere than at Quebec,” argues Mr. Girard.
Valerie Randone, director for Quebec of the placement agency MaxSys personnel, is equally categorical.
“There are people who are afraid to return to work. But there are also the emergency benefits, which are very enticing. And the student is not certain of wanting to work this summer because she has resources available. The government programs have very large impacts.”
“We now have the monthly salary rather than hourly wages, so that people can compare with PKU,” continues Mrs. Randone. People want to know what they earn to return on the labour market. We also wonder: “If I risk my health to return to work, what is it that you offer me more?””
The agency could find employment to 200 people in the region of Quebec, including some thirty in the county of Portneuf, “as early as next week,” said Mrs. Randone. “You don’t do a lot of prospecting to find new customers because it is becoming so difficult to find the workforce.”
“Despite the situation, the CV enter the dropper. It worries us. Looking for a dozen workers for a month,” says Mathieu Bergeron, director of operations at Polycor. The company has a plant in Rivière-à-Pierre, which produces borders of streets in granite.
“We wondered if the government programs were scaling back hiring. We can’t put the blame 100% on it. Some people may have the concern about the coronavirus, or there have been fewer job losses locally. We ask questions,” he adds.
Freneco, also a manufacturer of wooden structures, which employs 130 people in Portneuf, has managed to hire 13 people for the past three weeks. He is still looking for twenty people.
“Among the people we hire now, some have seen their positions cut due to a reorganization,” says Gabrielle Comtois, advisor to the human resources of the company.
“May be that of the insured persons to return to their jobs currently are not looking for work, I don’t know if the PCU we night currently,” adds the president of Freneco, Jean Frenette.
The conservative mp for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Joël Godin, urges the government to change its aid to employees.
“The program initially was filled with good intentions. The government had to react, and he reacted well. But now we can see that the damage is major. The government has readjusted its programmes in the past and there is an urgent need. When I heard the prime minister of Quebec [Thursday] said that he has the competition by the PCU and the PCUE when he announces the re-opening of the holiday camps, we have a problem”, plague Mr. Godin.
“The problem is mostly among college students and minimum-wage workers. Mathematically speaking, they have advantages to stay with them. Students ask not to work more than 15 hours a week [in order not to lose the SFP]. A worker full time at minimum wage will earn less. What is in place encourages passivity”, he insists.
“If there had been a problem of employment for the students, they would have been able to find a program at a later date. But it has given a program upstream. The other hand, the program Canada Summer Jobs is a delay of one month. The jobs are released at the dropper. In my constituency, I only have 57 jobs confirmed on 140 pre-authorized. There is an inconsistency if one wants to stimulate the economy and involve students,” says the mp.
Selection of the Pastry chef, in the county of Portneuf, is more concerned with the effect of bonuses being granted to certain workers, that of the PCU.
“We’re going to know [the effect of the PKU] when we are going to remind all of our employees. There was a reluctance of some of those we have contacted to say that the job was going to start again. The programs help urged least to come back. It is okay to help them, but when the work resumes, they must not miss their turn. But for the moment, it has not prevented anyone to come back,” says Réjean Proulx, vice-president administration of the manufacturer of desserts.
But what makes him the most concern for new hires in the future, is the increasing tendency to give bonuses, such as for certain workers, restaurants and grocery stores.
“Already [increased] the minimum wage would give us a pressure. It is seen in the essential services of the premiums from 3 to 4$ per hour. This is correct. But no one will be able to almost remove it. They do not want to go back. The phenomenon of the premiums is going to give us pressure”, is concerned, Mr. Proulx.
“In the field of bakery and pastry, wages are not the highest, it does not attract much. We have reactivated our job offers and it does not run the streets. The first question a candidate asks is: how it makes?” said Mr. Proulx.
Selection of the Pastry chef employed 110 people before the crisis, but he would have needed 15 more. The company has hotels and restaurants among its clients, and is greatly affected by the current situation.
“With everything that the government gives as premiums, the private company is obliged to offer it as bonuses. Not all the companies that are able to do so,” assures Valérie Hiking of the placement agency MaxSys personnel.
Of best conditions to attract workers
To combat the shortage of labour force chronic businesses of Portneuf multiply the incentives.
“We have changed our pay scale. Someone who walks with us, without a degree, is going to win between 17 and vineyard$ 20.50 per hour. We can’t simply keep up with inflation. We must pay more,” says Jean Frenette, of Freneco.
His company also offers a voluntary retirement savings plans, to pay 50% of the group insurance and woos people over the age of 55.
After you have thought about putting a shuttle in place, Freneco manages for the moment to attract workers who do not have a car by arranging carpooling between employees.
“We are also looking to put a shuttle in place, lance Mathieu Bergeron of the Manufacturer. We offer good salaries, from 19 to 22$ an hour, and the training is given on-site. We have put an end to the overnight shift and we give a$ 1,000 net of tax to employees who would recommend us to a worker who would stay at least three months.”
“We are in the local newspapers, on job sites, on our website, on Facebook, the Municipality will take all reasonable steps, we are on the placemats in snacks, we did radio ads, we do not know what to do,” says Mr. Bergeron.
The manufacturer was waiting for 18 workers of Guatemala, but the closure of the canadian embassy in Mexico, which ran the folder, put an end to this possibility.
The company had welcomed six Guatemalans in 2019. “The experience was amazing, we loved it,” says Mr. Bergeron.
Same thing with Freneco, who was waiting 13 workers from Mexico. “We started the experiment last year and it was a good success. We bought a house, a vehicle, a bicycle. We had interpreters. We wanted them to come back,” says Jean Frenette.
“They were working 60-70 hours per week. This is equivalent to 21 or 22 workers for a normal week. Even if we were that 85% to 90% of our revenue [before the containment], I would take it back. They allowed us also to open an evening shift. After a certain time, the workers here want to be day, which is understandable,” said Mr. Frenette.
A project resurfaced
Freneco, Structures Ultratec, the Manufacturer, Selection of the Pastry chef and two other businesses in the Portneuf region have developed a project of a co-operative of foreign workers in 2018 which was first blocked. Fifty of these workers would have been able to wander from one company to the other depending on the needs.
“The ministry of Labour objected to the fact that a company cannot have more than 10% of foreign workers. The co-operative was considered to be 100% foreign. I revived the project with the new minister [Filomena Tassi] and I think that there was an opening. But I think that the shortage of labour is less present now”, concluded the member of parliament for Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, Joel Godin.