After almost 20 years with Leduc-Wetaskiwin Cinemas – including the past six as owner/operator – Shadia Moussa says that regulatory changes, coupled with the current economy, have forced her to make tough choices in order to cut costs.
“My team is extremely valuable to me and my business doesn’t run without them,” she says. But over the past few months the owner of Leduc and Wetaskiwin movie theatres has had to tighten her belt as delivery costs and wages have increased, reducing her staff from 54 to 42 employees.
In the theatre industry, where the movie studios get the bulk of profits from ticket receipts, Moussa’s main business is concessions “where we must provide fantastic service,” she says. And in the current economic climate she can only raise prices so much to try and make up the shortfall.
Being understaffed means making tough choices when hiring as well. “I’m having to hire older staff who need less training,” she says. “Which means I can’t bring in young, entry level staff who benefit from mentoring and an opportunity to gain life experience.”
Moussa feels that young employees are missing valuable work opportunities. “I want to give them a raise,” she says. “But we want to teach our new employees that they have to earn a wage increase rather than just be entitled to one.”
Ken Kobly, president of the Alberta Chamber of Commerce says the next provincial government needs to do more to address the challenges facing business owners, like Moussa.
“We need to reduce regulatory uncertainty and ensure that policy and legislative changes do no harm – especially by layering additional costs on business,” he says.
To improve business competitiveness, Kobly adds, the next government must appropriately consult with businesses directly on any potential policy changes, act swiftly on their recommendations, and provide reasonable time for businesses to adjust to new policy.
“Our businesses are telling us that there’s a cumulative effect from changes to such things as the minimum wage, statutory holiday pay, as well as municipal taxes, and that affects the businesses’ ability to operate, and even survive.”
Moussa says whichever party forms the next government, they need to think carefully about how their decisions affect small businesses before they go too far too fast.
“To survive and prosper, we need the government to review these policies and include the business owners in the dialogue if we’re going to create a competitive and healthy, growing economy.”
“We need to take a step back and listen to businesses like mine.”
To learn more about how the next Government of Alberta can help improve business competitiveness, visit voteprosperityab.com
This content was produced by Content Works, Postmedia’s custom content studio.
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