Worker shortage being felt at Vernon shelter | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon News

Worker shortage being felt at Vernon shelter

FILE PHOTO: Employee Tanya Price at Gateway Shelter in Vernon.

VERNON - Local shelters are feeling the impacts of a worker shortage in the North Okanagan.

The John Howard Society has been struggling to hire enough workers to consistently run its emergency mat program for roughly the past four months, co-executive director Kelly Fehr says.

“We’re in such a dire need,” Fehr says.

The non-profit agency isn’t the only place that’s felt the labour squeeze in recent months. In August, a local business owner spoke out about the burnout, shortened store hours, and other consequences of the worker shortage.

Fehr says they’ve had to close the mat program on about six occasions because there weren’t enough employees.

“Staff have to be there to monitor and support people,” Fehr says.

He says they can “barely run” the program at the current staffing level, and employees are working over time.

Normally, the society would require a human service work diploma, but is so desperate they are accepting people with a Grade 12 diploma and the right attitude.

“It’s most important that peoples’ personalities are the right fit,” Fehr says. “You have to be able to support clients, you need to be empathetic, non-judgemental, and ready to meet people where they’re at.”

The pay starts at $17.10 an hour, and the society is unionized. Full or part time workers are eligible for benefits, and casuals receive 10 per cent in lieu of benefits.

It’s not a job that everyone is cut out for, Fehr says, but it’s a rewarding one.

“We frequently see on either social media or in the news people that are concerned, outraged, or saddened by people sleeping outside. Well, here’s an opportunity to have a significant impact. If you really want to be part of the solution, come join us and be part of the solution,” Fehr says.

Those interested can send their resumes to

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston or call 250-309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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