Registry created to fill essential jobs: More than 400 vacancies

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The Windsor Star/Brian Cross



At places such as grocery stores, pharmacies and long-term care homes there are more than 400 essential jobs that need to be filled right now.

So on Monday, local officials announced the creation of an essential jobs registry, separate and apart from the registries created by the provincial government to fill the health care and agricultural vacancies in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. While thousands of people have been idled by workplace closures, the businesses and services deemed essential are crying for help to meet the demand.

Everything from Costco to Metro, from Walmart to Shoppers Drug Mart, and from Shoreview of Riverside to Victoria Manor, are on the list of places needing help.

“Employers are hiring and there are a lot of jobs out there,” Andrew Daher, the city’s executive director of employment and social services, said Monday during a Zoom news conference. The jobs registry was created by the city and Workforce WindsorEssex. “So I want to make it very, very clear that we are here to assist and we are open for business.”

The types of jobs needed include: security guards, general labour, janitorial, dietary aides, customer service/cashier, food servce/cooks/food packers, early childhood educators, social workers, personal support workers, family support workers, nurses and medical technicians. Pay ranges between $14 and $30 an hour. “These are all super, super important,” Daher said.

“You’re working at Costco, Metro is hiring, Walmart, Zehrs is hiring. You’re looking at the healthcare sector,” where multiple long term care homes are in need of help. “We have a plethora of employers who are looking to hire in a variety of different sectors.”

Mayor Drew Dilkens said some employers have reached out about their need for workers. Normally, they have a stack of applications and have no problem hiring people. But now, they have some people who are fearful and don’t want to work. He said filling these jobs serves two important needs.

“First, they of course can provide wages at a time of extreme economic hardship. But they also provide essential services, many in support of seniors and others who are self-isolating due to pre-existing medical conditions.”

He said many of the jobs are “customer facing,” meaning they involve contact with the public. But they can be done with the proper precautions, such as social distancing and use of personal protective equipment.

“And these roles can also be of incredible assistance to those in our community dealing with isolation and pandemic concerns.”

The registry is a page on the Workforce WindsorEssex website that people who are unemployed or underemployed can use to upload their resumes and indicate their willingness to work during this pandemic, said executive director Justin Falconer.

“We’re essentially trying to collect a large list of available workers that we can then work with employment agencies in town, and Andrew’s group, in making sure those roles are filled,” he said.

While people can still apply individually to essential employers, a centralized collection of resumes should make it easier to match available workers with employers, he said.

Daher said his staff — job developers and caseworkers — will be taking the resumes and vetting them, to match applicants’ skills and experience with available jobs. His department can even offer incentives, such as paying for workboots for someone looking to work in construction, or providing an employer help with training new employees.

He showed a slide with four boxes that indicate what pandemic-hobbled workers are collecting. Standard unemployment insurance provides a maximum of $573 a week, the government’s new Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit provides a max of $500 a week and Ontario Works provides $169 to a single person with no dependents. In contrast, the vacant essential jobs pay between $490 and $1,050.

“It’s pretty evident this is the box we want to be in,” said Daher.

“So let’s try to help you get in that employment realm.”

He said his staff are able to deploy people quickly into vacant jobs — within a day in some cases.