Nova Scotia

How newcomers could boost Nova Scotia's struggling hospitality sector

Nova Scotia is making it easier for businesses looking to hire newcomers in the hospitality sector. 

Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration expands list of high-demand jobs

Nova Scotia is making it easier for businesses looking to hire newcomers as the hospitality industry looks to fill vacancies. (CBC)

Nova Scotia is making it easier for businesses looking to hire newcomers in the hospitality sector. 

The Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration has expanded its list of high-demand jobs to allow people to fast-track their immigration. 

The list of occupations include food-counter attendants, kitchen helpers, related support workers, food and beverage services and light-duty cleaners.

"We hope that through these pathways it will allow the sector to recover as quick as possible," said Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser. 

"The impacts of the pandemic have been prolonged and we know that there are going to be some challenges that we're still going to face as we continue to move forward."

Changes to immigration stream

Balser said the move comes after hearing from industry leaders who have struggled to fill positions in kitchens, bars and restaurants around the province. 

Jill Balser is the minister of labour, skills and immigration. (Jill Balser)

She said businesses can hire workers without having to complete any labour market impact assessments, and newcomers won't have to work for their future employers before applying to a provincial program.

Although immigration is a federal-provincial responsibility, the Provincial Nominee Program allows provinces to pre-approve, or nominate, immigrants with skills needed in that province to fast-track their acceptance into Canada.

Balser said allowing hospitality workers into the province will help Nova Scotia reach its population goal of two million people by 2060.

Restaurants impacted by pandemic

Danny Ellis says he's optimistic the immigration changes will help him find skilled workers for his kitchens.

The owner of four Sydney restaurants said the pandemic brought on some of the worst challenges he's faced in a 40-year career.

Over the last two years, Sydney businessman Danny Ellis has struggled to fill jobs at his local eateries. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

Ellis had planned to open a fifth eatery in Port Hawkesbury last summer, but that dream went up in smoke. 

"We went to the job bank and put out a call for employees and we were shocked at how few actually applied," said Ellis, who has been working in the restaurant industry for more than 40 years. 

"There is a real big shortage in skilled kitchen help [including] dishwashers and cleaners and cooks were the number one."

Ellis said in the last few weeks a few resumés or job applications have started coming in. 

For his part to retain employees, Ellis said he is establishing a benefits package that will cover some of the costs associated with health, dental and prescription medications. 


Erin Pottie


Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at