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'It’s a huge shift': Cape Breton businesses in danger of closing due to worker shortages

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Restaurant staff have been hard to come by in Cape Breton in recent months.

At Jane’s Restaurant and Pizzeria along Highway 105 in Bras d'or, N.S., it's the most trouble the owner has had hiring in more than 30 years working there.

Owner Mary Devoe recently posted on social media that her restaurant will be closed two days a week until they can find full staff.

She says there simply doesn't seem to be enough qualified workers, adding her business is too far out of the way to attract international students.

"We've had hires, but they don't seem to stick around or stay,” Devoe said. "I get tired of training people and getting them right where you need them, and then two or three months later, they're up and gone. As long as I've been in this business, this is probably the worst I've ever seen it."

At the Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce, folders full of resumes are further evidence.

"It's a huge shift. I've never seen 'help wanted' signs in my hometown of Louisbourg until the last three years,” said Chamber CEO Jenna Lahey.

In late February, the Miner's Village Restaurant in Glace Bay closed due to an insufficient number of workers.

Another eatery along Sydney's boardwalk did the same a short time later.

Lahey said hiring is even tougher in rural areas and added there are concerns that's where they might see a hit during the coming tourism season.

"So when they're traveling, say around the Cabot Trail or around the coastline, and they can't find somewhere to get something to eat, it's going to be bad,” Lahey said.

Back at her restaurant in Bras d'or, Devoe says she'll need at least three more cooks to operate at full capacity this summer.

Last year, they had to cut their busy season short.

"I hope we'll be able to acquire some people before that time. That's the end goal,” she said.

For now, Devoe plans to head to a job fair in nearby North Sydney on Thursday in hopes of finding help to keep the open sign on.

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