Jungle Jim’s is staying open

Derek Montague
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Three new cooks acquired in the nick of time

A week ago, Lloyd Hillier thought he’d have to close his Jungle Jim’s restaurant in Happy Valley-Goose Bay because he didn’t have enough staff.

Lloyd Hiller, owner and operator of Jungle Jim’s in Happy Valley-Goose Bay nearly had to close his restaurant due to a lack of cooks and restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. But after his story went public, three cooks expressed interest in the jobs. — Photo by Derek Montague

But after Hillier went public with his plight, interested cooks began contacting him.

“I got lots of phone calls, as you can well imagine, and some cooks were very interested in coming in,” Hillier said today.

“So, I was able to acquire three brand new cooks that will be arriving here later tonight. Nothing changes. We’ll be open forever, hopefully.”

One of the cooks is from the island and the other two are from the Toronto area.

Hillier said the Muskrat Falls project has made it impossible to hire locally trained cooks. In his 33 years in business, this is the first time he’s had trouble hiring staff.

“Everybody here who’s a cook, guess where they’re going? They’re going to Muskrat where they pay the big bucks,” said Hillier, who pays his cooks between $14-$18 an hour.

“We don’t pay the big bucks. I can’t sell french fries for $25 a plate and pay cooks $40 an hour. I can’t do that. If I do, I don’t sell any french fries.”

And federal government’s restrictions on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program meant Hillier was unable to replace several cooks who are leaving Tuesday.

The rule that affected Hillier the most is the one that restricts businesses in areas of high unemployment from accessing the program.

Even though Happy Valley-Goose Bay has relatively low unemployment, Labrador is grouped with the Northern Peninsula and western Newfoundland when the rate is calculated, which increases the unemployment percentage for Labrador.

Hillier said the situation has been tough on his staffs. If he wasn’t able to find any cooks, 25 employees could have lost their jobs.

Jungle Jim’s may have been saved, but other businesses in the province are also facing a choice of cutting hours or closing doors for lack of employees.

According to advocates for business owners in the restaurant and seafood processing sectors, labour shortages — especially in low skill, low wage and entry-level jobs — have been exacerbated by changes to the foreign worker program.

“I think you’re going to see a combination of a shrinkage in hours and higher prices,” said Luc Erjavec, the vice-president of Restaurants Canada responsible for Atlantic Canada.

“We’re very concerned with the fallout on a number of levels — on the business level, the employee level, the provincial level and ultimately on the customer level.”

He said restaurants in the province generally work with small profit margins and  paying more to attract labour translates into higher bills for restaurants and their customers.


The Labradorian

See related story: http://www.thetelegram.com/Business/2014-06-28/article-3779979/N.L.-businesses-hit-with-loss-of-foreign-workers/1

Organizations: Restaurants Canada

Geographic location: Muskrat, Toronto, Happy Valley Goose Bay Northern Peninsula Newfoundland Atlantic Canada

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Recent comments

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2014 - 10:51

    Once again, 'our' self proclaimed private sector industry in this province tries to shag the ordinary Canadian.

  • Saucy Face
    July 02, 2014 - 06:44

    Once again, 'our' self proclaimed private sector industry in this province tries to shag the ordinary Canadian.

  • Hire Canadian
    July 01, 2014 - 08:07

    Funny how that works. A little extra work in recruitment and bang you have unemployed Canadians working for you. Does this show Jason Kenney is right? I'm not sure, but in this particular case it appears that going the extra mile to find Canadians worked. I guess the sky isn't falling after all.

  • It Happened Like That!
    June 30, 2014 - 13:28

    Look at that! Suddenly, there are 3 Canadian workers available! How many other restaurant owners who said that they need foreign workers to fill job positions will now suddenly find Canadian workers available to work the jobs? It is almost as if the restaurant owners never really tried that hard to find Canadian workers in the first place!

    • S. Mealey
      June 30, 2014 - 14:59

      According to the story on CBC, two are not Canadian workers but TFW who'd been approved before the new rules came into effect.

    • S. Mealey
      June 30, 2014 - 15:06

      According to a CBC report on this story, two of those workers are not Canadians but rather are TFWs who had already been approved before the new rules went into effect.

  • Samuel J.
    June 30, 2014 - 12:10

    ....and you really thought he was going to padlock the doors and walk away from his investment. This was a pitch for a program that allowed franchisees like McDonald's Cathy Bennett to lower their costs and increase their profits by depressing already low wages and side-stepping the local workforce.

  • hslaw
    June 30, 2014 - 10:02

    There is a lot to be said when a gentleman has to go outside his town to find workers when there was a huge layoff in the area lately. Next thing we will be hearing is Where is the help for the miners who are laid off? Sickening

    • rj
      June 30, 2014 - 17:15

      You may want to brush up on your geography, the mine that closed was in Wabush, which is 600 km away from this restaurant.