Restaurant owner says federal applications to bring in overseas workers are difficult on small businesses

Alfonso Maury, owner of Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria in Winnipeg, says his application to bring in a worker from Argentina was denied because of one wrong word. Joanne Roberts has the story.

Restaurant owners say it’s still a volatile industry — with a lack of workers and also a lack of supports for small businesses still in pandemic recovery mode.

For Alfonso Maury, owner of Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria, he says he waited four months to have his application to bring in a worker from Argentina be denied, over one incorrect word.

“We need some help. We need someone just taking a look and make this procedure much easier for us,” said Maury.

The pizzeria owner says he’s been searching for months for another chef in his restaurant and has even had conversations with Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada about training someone in the country. But with advertisements out looking for someone for the position, he’s still coming up empty, so he’s had to look for someone overseas.

“We need, in particular, someone who understands our Argentinian kitchen. So the bakery is different, the pasta is different, the empanadas are different. It’s not something very common in North America,” he explained.

Alfonso Maury, owner of Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria, says the application process to hire foreign workers is tough on small businesses. (Joanne Roberts, CityNews)

For his application through the federal government through the Labour Market Impact Assessment, which hires temporary workers from abroad, Maury had to pay over a thousand dollars — $1,000 for the application and $150 for each of its accompanying job advertisements. The reason for his denial — he advertised for a “chef” and not a “cook”.

“For that, I had to wait four months. Had a telephone call telling me, you put the wrong word in your application, so we’re gonna decline. That’s it. There’s people waiting, it’s not just me as an employer. There’s people overseas waiting for an answer, too.”

Maury says now he’s paying over a thousand dollars again to re-apply. He says for small businesses already struggling to hire, paying the fees again is not easy.

“Why? Why then just say, hey, fix the advertising, re-advertise and we’re gonna consider just to keep it alive and then you can apply again. So why I need to pay (again)? Just for a word? It has no sense for me,” said Maury.

Alfonso Maury says he needs to look overseas to find workers for his restaurant. (Steve Anderson, CityNews)

Maury says he feels a disconnect from establishments that are supposed to be helping small businesses, saying the federal government doesn’t seem to understand how urgent the situation is.

“The restaurant industry needs people overseas. Someone needs to take care of that. Immigration needs to see what’s going on with the industry. There is a lack of cooks or kitchen people in general for every restaurant.”

CityNews reached out to Employment and Social Development Canada and has not yet received a response.

In the meantime, Maury says he’s still looking for qualified workers, and new advertisements are up for his next application.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today