• Hunter Cresswell

Hiring: Literally anyone

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic-driven labour shortage, Old Chelsea business woman Manuela Teixeira was willing to hire anyone. She said she’s tried different approaches to staff her kitchen at Chelsea Pub but, two years into the pandemic, nothing is working.


“It’s actually terrible,” she said about the situation.


In 2019, with a fully staffed kitchen but foreseeing a shortage, Teixeira implemented a policy to offer on-the-job training for applicants without any kitchen experience.


When even that didn’t keep the kitchen fully staffed to serve customers coming out of their COVID-19 shells as health restrictions lifted, she started looking farther afield.


She began working with Immigration Canada to hire people from outside the country to fill the open positions.


She said that 11 people from outside Canada were supposed to start before Christmas 2021, but delays in finalizing their work visas meant they wouldn’t be able to start until March. In March, Immigration Canada told her that there are still delays and the visas would be ready in June. Well, it’s now July and those visas haven’t come through and, after reaching out to Immigration Canada, all she said she has received are vague, automated responses that say her request is being looked at.


“Why is it that way? I just don’t understand, we’re talking about rubber-stamping a visa at this point,” Teixeira said.


She said the staff shortage is starting to take a toll on her business. With customers lining up along Chemin Old Chelsea and front-of-house-staff wanting to work shifts, there isn't enough kitchen staff to keep up with the demand. Teixeira has had to close entire sections of the restaurant to not overload the kitchen with orders from hungry patrons.


“It’s hard on the team,” Teixeira said.


She said that, if something doesn’t change soon, she’ll have to start closing on certain days. Chelsea Pub is one of the few Gatineau Hills restaurants that is still open seven days a week after the pandemic.


This staffing shortage isn’t just a problem Chelsea Pub faces — it’s industry-wide across Canada. Pretty much every Gatineau Hills restaurant is hiring kitchen staff, while media across the country have been reporting about this staffing shortage for well over a year.


“It’s the same problem everywhere,” Teixeira said.


Right now, she has 135 employees, but will need more as she adds businesses under her Old Chelsea Square brand, which ties together her various projects in Old Chelsea including: Chelsea Pub, Biscotti Café, Lofts du Village, Maison Bleu, and her upcoming distillery, grocery store, and inn.


Despite the hiring setbacks, she said she remains hopeful.


“I’m positive that we’ll be able to recruit for our needs,” Teixeira said.


Current jobs she needs to fill are for: prep-cooks, chefs, maintenance workers, receptionists, and a human resources coordinator. Email resumes to info@squareoldchelsea.ca to apply.