A labour shortage that has resonated across the province and country is being felt here in southeastern Saskatchewan.
Estevan Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jackie Wall says there are a number of industries dealing with worker shortages right now in Estevan, including agriculture, construction, oil and gas, and hospitality.
She said there are a number of factors contributing to the shortage.
"We've had people exit our labour force and gone into early retirement, we've also seen a decrease in the amount of new workers coming in from other countries, and we've had a decrease in the immigration into our country over the last few years because of the pandemic," Wall said.
"It is not going to be solved overnight. There are a lot of challenges ahead still."
Wall said there's also still a shift going on right now post-pandemic that has impacted the labour shortage.
"We had a contraction over the last couple years for the labour force because of the pandemic, and we did not see consumers out shopping like they used to. And now that has shifted," Wall said. "They are out more, they are demanding more products and services, and so it's going to take a minute for everything to catch up."
Wall said the onus is often on the community itself to attract the workers, especially in smaller cities such as Estevan.
"People are attracted to the community for more than just employment opportunities," she said. "They're looking for education opportunities, the healthcare system, they're taking a look at what there is culturally within the community. And so all of those things play a factor."
"Some of the smaller communities that are very diverse in what they have to offer sometimes have more of an opportunity to attract labour force."
Wall said it's great that Estevan has hosted big events in the past and has the infrastructure to host future events, but that the community needs to look at the bigger picture.
"We have to look at our community as an entire ecosystem, not just as an economic system. There are way more things that play into our enocomy than just the workers and labour force. It is very dynamic and it comes down to multiple layers of things that make a community attractive."
She added that Estevan has a lot going for it right now.
"We have a lot of businesses that have opened or expanded over the last few years, and if you look around our community I think that's quite evident as you drive down 4th or Kensington or King Street," Wall said.
"We have a lot to offer here, we just have to basically take a look at new ways to move through these challenges."