Dawson City faces severe labour shortage

Some employers in Dawson City, Yukon, say they are dealing with a serious shortage of workers, citing the region's hot economy and a lack of available housing.
Businesses in Dawson City, Yukon, say they need more workers this summer. 2:13

Some employers in Dawson City, Yukon, say they are dealing with a serious shortage of workers, citing the region's hot economy and a lack of available housing.

While people are flocking to Dawson City this summer to work on mining and construction projects, many local businesses — especially those in the service sector — say they do not have enough staff.

"This is the probably the worst year it's been in 15 years," said Mark Mather, owner of the Dawson City General Store.

Sara Lee Snider, the division manager for Holland America Princess Alaska Yukon, said she does not have enough workers for its tours section or for the Westmark Hotel, a Dawson City hotel that the company owns.

"I'm short maybe 25 per cent of my staff-load that I normally have. The hotel's probably close to the same, so it's a challenge this year," said Snider.

Lots of available jobs

A number of mining exploration companies are exploring for gold and other minerals  in Yukon's Klondike region this summer.

At the same time, several large building projects are underway in Dawson City, including work on a new hospital and the construction of a sewage treatment facility.

Snider said while there are a lot of jobs in town right now, that has meant most of the available housing in town  is taken.

"The limited amount of housing is a challenge for us," she said.

"When you can't provide housing, you can't really bring people from other locations to here, to Dawson City. And a lot of the local people have already got jobs that are year-round."

Had to raise wages

Josée Savard of Klondike Kate's Cabins and Restaurant said while she has enough serving staff on her payroll, she has had to raise wages to attract kitchen and housekeeping employees.

"We have to, you know, make sure that the people that we have right now are happy, and then it's a bit more expensive for the owners," Savard said.

Catherine Lalonde, who came up to Dawson City from British Columbia, said she had no problem finding two jobs. She may even take up a third job, she said.

Lalonde said she is telling friends back home to go to Dawson City if they are looking for work.

"The people here are just so light-hearted, and it's a really nice working atmosphere," she said. "Because of that, because no one's stressed out all the time, like in the cities."