Being Respectful, Patient and Kind

Back in September, the Fernie Chamber of Commerce launched a campaign to support Fernie’s businesses and their frontline workers. The campaign encourages residents and visitors to be “respectful, patient and kind” with staff as our local businesses navigate unprecedented worker shortages, lack of attainable housing for staff, and evolving public health guidelines in response to the pandemic.

Fernie’s frontline staff are absolutely critical to the success of our businesses and local economy. Hundreds of people in our community work behind the scenes to keep our tourism engine going – housekeepers, kitchen staff, servers, and retail clerks. Without this amazing team of people, Fernie would not be the vibrant community and destination that it is today. Unfortunately, there have been many instances of staff in local businesses being treated poorly by customers. We understand that people are tired, and frustrations are high. But there is no excuse. Fernie businesses are doing their best to provide exceptional customer service, but there are strong headwinds that some of our businesses are navigating.

Labour shortages were no stranger to Fernie prior to the pandemic, but the ripple effect of 18 months of public health measures have certainly compounded the issue. Border closures have severely restricted the free movement of foreign workers, which resort towns like Fernie completely depend upon to power our businesses. With an aging population in Canada, we have more Canadians leaving the workforce each year than those entering the workforce – so immigration is key to our success. The Fernie Chamber (along with the Whistler Chamber) has been strongly advocating at the federal level for less friction in the immigration process and more quotas for rural resort communities like Fernie. We have also worked tirelessly with Tourism Fernie on our workforce attraction efforts to promote Fernie as an incredible place to work, live and play – using the platform and associated marketing campaigns.

Despite our best efforts, we recognize that operations and service delivery for a lot of businesses will be extremely challenging this ski season. We need to go out of our way to be kind and supportive to the workers we do have that show up every day and try to deliver a remarkable experience while on the backfoot. Thank them. Let them know they’re appreciated and that these ever-changing challenges are not their fault. Taking out your frustrations on frontline workers is completely unacceptable, regardless of your situation or your ideology. We need these folks. Thank you for being respectful, patient and kind with our businesses this winter.