To The Editor:
Thanks to reporter Timothy Schafer and The Nelson Daily for their on-going coverage of local politics, and the story from Nov 2, headlined ‘Lifestyle leads list of labour issues as business grapples with survival.’
The Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce wanted to provide some clarity on the findings of its three-part State of the Sectors report, which included the input of 75 small business owners in the local food and beverage, retail, and development/construction industries.
While changing lifestyle choices are amongst the forces and trends contributing to the Nelson region’s labour challenges, the State of the Sectors report didn’t conclude that work-life balance was a leading cause of job market instability.
The leading causes are firstly, a shortage of workers. That’s a problem that Canadian job market analysts warned of even before the pandemic began, a challenge that was foreseen due to Canada’s ageing population, increasing retirements and an immigration shortfall.
A shortage of affordable housing and rentals is also a major contributor to the labour problem. Again, the issue is nation-wide.
Thirdly, the retention of employees has proven to be a major challenge too. The contributing factors are complex, but include the fact employers can’t afford to pay ever-increasing wages and added costs of employment, and the fact that more and more, employees are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living.
That said, better work-life balance has for the past decade had increasing influence on how much, where, when and even why people work. For more and more Nelson residents, new and old — and for many westerners in general — a life of purpose has become more important than a life of purchase. The trend suggests that living with less is simpler, more healthy and more enjoyable.
Beyond labour market challenges facing our small business community, the Chamber’s State of the Sector’s studies include front-line feedback on a wide variety of trends that existed before, during and post-pandemic. Those include business costs and decisions associated with inflation, fuel and housing, insurance and financing, natural disaster, climate change and seasonal business, e-commerce, the supply chain, sick pay legislation, public health orders and the efforts of federal, municipal, regional and local government and economic development bodies like the Chamber and Community Futures Central Kootenay.
One proven solution to a number of the challenges being faced by our main street businesses is clear — shop and support local.
For anyone who hasn’t yet had a look over them, the State of The Sectors reports are available at discovernelson.com/news/state-of-the-sectors.
Tom Thomson, Executive Director, Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce