The jobs are there, but the people are not looking for work.  That is the situation right now with local employment, according to the Centre des services d’emploi/Employment Services Centre of Prescott-Russell.

“We do need the people and the jobs are there,” said Carole Muise, Communications Agent for the centre.

As of November 2, the centre had 385 jobs listed on its online job board, and not all of them were minimum wage positions.

“The companies need the workers,” said Muise.

However, the unemployment rate in Eastern Ontario is currently at 13 per cent, which means people without work are not necessarily looking for it.  She speculated that people could have become accustomed to the federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which has since been transferred into a modified version of Employment Insurance (EI).

The centre is unsure about why workers are not seeking employment.  Muise said that interest in available jobs and the centre’s services usually increases during times of high unemployment.

She also suspected that some people are fearful of looking for work or taking on a new job due to the pandemic, even though a strong workforce is still required and employers are required by law to ensure employees are properly protected.

“We do have to get used to it and take back our lives,” Muise said.

As examples of the available jobs with higher wages, Muise referred to three positions that offered hourly wages ranging from $17 to $29 per hour, including positions with government agencies.  She said that employers often offer higher wages as an incentive when they are having difficulty filling vacant positions.

The centre is finding it difficult to determine exactly why people are not returning to the workforce.

The Employment Services Centre’s offices, including its main facility in downtown Hawkesbury, are open for regular hours and extra measures are being taken not only to protect clients against COVID-19, but to also accommodate clients with additional pandemic-related concerns.

“We do have people coming in, but we’d like to have more,” said Muise.