The Columbia Valley is known for its beautiful landscape, recreational opportunities, and thriving tourism industry. However, like many regions in Canada, the valley is facing a significant labour shortage. This shortage has become a major concern for local businesses, as they struggle to find qualified workers to fill vacancies.

The labour shortage in the Columbia Valley is not an isolated issue; it is a trend that is being observed across the Kootenay region of BC and Canada. According to Statistics Canada, the Kootenay region has seen a steady decline in its working-age population over the past decade.

Historically, the Kootenay region has faced labour shortages in various industries, including mining, forestry, and agriculture. Whether workers left for the Yukon in search of gold or shifted industries from forestry to mining, companies in the Kootenay region have changed and adapted to meet the needs of the times.

Based on the 2023 Labour Shortage Survey completed by Columbia Valley Community Economic Development, the current shortage reported is 222 full time employees and 89 part time employees. A total of 75 Columbia Valley based businesses completed the online survey this past March.

The survey highlighted a few key points in which businesses can focus:

Offer competitive wages and benefits:  A BDC report indicated that 32% of employees want to leave their job for more benefits. According to the labour shortage survey, 54% of reporting businesses offer a benefits package. Those businesses who offer benefits are slightly more confident in being fully staffed for summer 2023.

Invest in training and development: Businesses can invest in training and development programs to help workers acquire the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in their roles. For information on training grants available, reach out to

Embrace technology: Businesses can embrace technology to streamline operations and reduce the need for manual labour. This may include using automation and digital tools to improve efficiency and productivity.

It is no surprise that the number one reason identified as a barrier to employee recruiting and retention is the lack of housing. There are efforts underway by folks in the development industry, Family Dynamix, and The Columbia Valley Housing Society to move the marker on available housing.

The labour shortage in the Columbia Valley is a significant challenge for local businesses. The Columbia Valley Chamber of Commerce and Columbia Valley Community Economic Development are here to assist. We have initiated, attended the Calgary Youth Hiring Fair and the SAIT hospitality program in early April. We will also be developing initiatives based on the results of the survey.



2023 Labour Shortage Survey Results