Labrador Jungle Jim's could close without temporary foreign workers

The owner of a restaurant in Happy Valley-Goose Bay says he'll be forced to close the doors next week if he can't hire temporary foreign workers to fill some positions.
The owner of the Jungle Jim's in Happy Valley-Goose Bay says the cooks working at his restaurant are already overworked, and he can't hire any others. (CBC)

The owner of a restaurant in Happy Valley-Goose Bay says he'll be forced to close the doors next week if he can't hire temporary foreign workers to fill some positions.

Lloyd Hillier said he employs multiple temporary foreign workers as cooks at his Jungle Jim's Restaurant. When their terms run out on July 1, he won't be able to hire any replacements because of changes to the federal policy.

Last week, federal Employment Minister Jason Kenney announced the decision to phase out the low-skilled stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program.

Hillier said Kenney's decision is effectively forcing him to lock his doors and shut down his business.
Lloyd Hillier, who owns and operates the Jungle Jim's location in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, says he may be forced to close the restaurant next week because of changes to the federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program. (CBC)

"We have no employees. There's nobody in Goose Bay to hire. They're not here to hire them, and if they were, we would hire them. We have over 100 Canadians on our pay role right now, but we need more and there's nobody to get," said Hillier.

Hillier, who also operates Hotel North with his wife Judy Hillier, said they've been advertising for cooks for six months, but no applications have come in from any Canadians.

No competing with mega projects

"The big project that's going on in our area, the Muskrat Falls, they're all over there making bigger dollars and we can't compete with that — not at all — not in a hospitality business. We try to compete the best way we can and we offer our cooks $18 an hour, and we just can't get them," said Hillier.

"The foreigners will come in and work for the $18. So we're not paying them a low wage, we're not paying them a minimum wage that's all that's required by the government. We're paying them far more than that just to get our spots filled so we can keep our doors open, but it looks like it's not going to happen."

Hillier added the restaurant has already cancelled breakfast service because the cooks currently employed there can't cover off all the hours.

As of next week, Hillier said only two cooks will be able to continue working at the restaurant, which isn't enough to continue operations.

He added hiring summer students isn't a feasible solution. The time and effort of training them wouldn't be worth it because it's such a short-term solution.

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