So the sun rises in the East, so housing continues to be the greatest hurdle for employers in Nunavut.

“There is no housing available, basically,” said Chris West, executive director of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The Government of Nunavut is the biggest employer in the territory and main economic driver, and West said he knows the GN is having issues recruiting staff because of a lack of housing, which has been an issue for years.

But the GN’s role in the economy is a blessing and a curse: its size increases the demand for supporting services to its large workforce, but it out-competes private industry with its higher salaries.

Like everywhere, the pandemic restrictions dealt a major blow to Nunavut’s economy.

“Certainly, it was a difficult time,” said West, as travel shut down, hotels were empty and lockdown policies came into effect.

“There were no tourists coming in and the hotels were empty throughout.”

West said the Baffin region is now in a “Covid recovery period” and hopes to see the economy regain the strength it saw previous to the pandemic.

But a new challenge has appeared across the country and in Nunavut as well: a lack of desire for employees to re-enter or commit to the workforce. This has been dubbed “The Great Resignation” and is similar to the phenomenon called “Quit Quitting,” in which workers are performing their job’s responsibilities but nothing more.

“I know the new hotel (Aqsarniit Hotel in Iqaluit) has been struggling for staff since they’ve reopened and there are always ads on social media looking for employees, from daycares to hotels to retail,” said West. “Everybody’s kind of struggling right now to regain the numbers that they had before Covid.”

His solution?

“The solution I think is increased training for local people, and we have to come up with creative ways of getting those individuals interested in the job market,” said West.

The Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its 2022 trade show in Iqaluit Sept. 19-22.

“We’re excited to get back to face-to-face meetings and hoping that the trade show will be a good starter for everybody and (offer) a lot of opportunities for people that are interested in working and getting back into the job market,” said West.

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