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Tackling the Chefs and cooks shortage
Dec 08, 2017

BC Restaurant & Food Services Association to host industry town hall

What: Restaurant owners, operators, Chefs and cooks in Greater Vancouver are invited to listen to, and weigh in on, the results of the BCRFA’s six months of research, analysis, and recommendations.

The BC Restaurant and Food Services Association has been studying the skills gap and employment shortage in Vancouver area restaurants, funded by the Employment Program of BC.

Why: Visa Canada estimates 60 per cent of Canadians now eat out at least once a week. As a result, new restaurants and foodservice operations are opening. Our industry is growing and we need more qualified staff to join our teams.

The goal for the forum is to provide attendees with:

– Current labour shortage market assessment;
– Strategies to improve your recruitment/retention;
– Employment needs of new generations of workers;
– Benefits of creating a culture that values work/life balance; and
– Recommendations for next steps to Government of BC.

When: Tuesday, Jan. 16 from 10 a.m. to noon.
Where: Italian Cultural Centre, 3075 Slocan St., Vancouver, BC
Parking: Free parking is available on site.

RSVP: 604-669-2239 or info@bcrfa.com

Additional information

  • BCRFA has been conducting research, focus groups, and 1:1 sessions with industry leaders,
    Chefs, cooks, employment programs and policy-makers to help define the skilled labour shortage and work on needs-based solutions for the Greater Vancouver area.
  • The chefs and cooks shortage is something operators feel they have limited control over since it is impacted by multiple pressures, including retirements, less young workers, and cost of housing.
  • Through this research, BCRFA has defined some opportunities for owners to make small changes today that improve their hiring outcomes and retention.

Available for media interviews:

Ian Tostenson, President & CEO, BCRFA
Samantha Scholefield, Research & Marketing, BCRFA

Best practices for hiring staff
Nov 22, 2017

In a move to address the critical skilled labour shortage in the kitchens of many Metro Vancouver and southern Vancouver Island restaurants, the BC Restaurant & Food Services Association (BCRFA) has focused on establishing industry-wide best practices for recruiting staff.


“The challenge facing our industry has become so prominent that we need to be proactive with how we tackle recruiting. The focus here is on quality so we are introducing best practices for vetting applicants and hiring the top ones,” says Ian Tostenson, President & CEO of the BCRFA. “Of course, once they’re hired we need to keep the enthusiasm by creating opportunities for growth, as this will reduce turnover.”


As an industry that employs 174,200 people across the province, the restaurant sector is looking for a large number of new workers on a consistent basis, using both a mix of unskilled/skilled and part-time/full-time workers. The demographic shift and a growing restaurant sector means that operators are facing a competitive hiring field – frankly, there are more jobs than employees. Still, restaurants are looking for people with a good attitude and, preferably, previous experience that can be built upon. To get the right team members, restaurateurs have to be good promoters and great employers.


A recent BCRFA study has shown that operators are using all available tools for recruiting, including: 82% social media; 72% career websites; 54% word of mouth; 41% using WorkBC Programs; 40% signs in the business; and 22% international recruiting. With the right advertising being used, the goal is to encourage employers to personalize their postings and stand out from the rest.


Best practices to use when looking to hire staff:

  • Create detailed job descriptions. Define roles and responsibilities. Include benefits or perks. Talk about the company culture. From the job title to the qualifications required, it is important to be clear and detailed in order to attract skilled applicants.
  • Determine business’ core values and hire people that embody and understand them.
  • Make sure recruitment efforts are exciting and are targeted to the people that you see filling the position. If you want a young adult, create a package that would attract a 20-something. If you want a career chef, someone who will stay with you for 3-5 years, include benefits that will entice a person with family.
  • Everyone wants opportunities for advancement. Set up your workplace and your job postings so that your people can grow with your business.
  • Post photos of your food style to attract the creative talents of Chefs.
  • Commit to schedules that create a balanced life for your workers. People value time with friends and family, if your business doesn’t value their time off – they won’t value your position.
  • Flexibility is king. Understand what flexibility means to your new hire, and create alignment with their lifestyle and goals that add value to your business.
  • As tempting as it may be, never hire just to fill an open spot. You’ll rush the process and you may even bring someone on board who will hurt your restaurant – not help it.
Share your concerns about $15 minimum wage
Nov 16, 2017

Fair Wage Commission: Be part of the discussion

Your BCRFA team is actively advocating on behalf of members around the question of minimum wage increases. Acting on an NDP campaign promise to raise minimum wage in BC to $15 per hour, the BC government took its first step in that direction by establishing the Fair Wage Commission in October.

We need your help to ensure the Commission hears our concerns loudly and clearly. Please consider signing up to present at one of the Commission’s Regional Meetings or sending your thoughts directly to the Commission at FWC@gov.bc.ca.

Ian Tostenson, President and CEO, will be appearing before the Commission in Vancouver on November 23rd. On behalf of members, the BCRFA will also be submitting a detailed report outlining:

– the economic impact of minimum wage increases on your businesses
– the importance of maintaining the liquor-server differential, and
– the need to take politics out of minimum wage by establishing stable, predictable, and transparent wage rates for the future.

The Commission has three tasks:

1. Develop recommendations for a pathway forward to raise the minimum wage to $15-an-hour and on a process for how the minimum wage should be regularly reviewed and increased once $15-an-hour is achieved.
2. Make recommendations about other wage rates under the Employment Standards Regulation, such as for liquor servers, agricultural workers, live-in caregivers, resident caretakers, and live-in camp leaders.
3. Advise Government on ways to begin to address the discrepancy between the minimum wage and living wages in our province (living wage is currently calculated to be $20.62 per hour in BC).

If you need additional information to support prior to contacting the Commission, please email Ian or call him at 604.986.1429.