Whitehorse McDonald's offers rent subsidies to lure workers north

The owner of the two McDonald's restaurant locations in Whitehorse is now offering to subsidize rents for employees recruited in Canada.

Mike Thorpe said the cost of accommodation in the city is a barrier to hiring.

"The shortage of affordable rental properties has become a very acute problem in the last, I'm going to say five or six years," said Thorpe.

Like many Yukon businesspeople, Thorpe is having trouble finding enough employees.

He's borrowed six employees this summer from other McDonald's locations in western Canada on six week terms.

But he's also looking to hire more workers from the south.

A poster was put up in an Abbotsford, B.C., McDonald's owned by a friend and he's running online ads in Winnipeg.

The ads promise recruits that if their rent is more than 30 per cent of their salary, it will be subsidized.

Dave Croft/CBC

There's a relocation bonus with a two-year commitment and an allowance for air or ground transportation.

The starting wages are $15 per hour. Based on a 40 hour work week, that would mean rents above $720 per month could be eligible for a subsidy.

Yukon government statistics on median rents for 2018 show bachelor suites in Whitehorse starting at $750 per month and one-bedroom apartments starting at almost $1,000.

Thorpe said he doesn't own rental properties, but has contacts who can help him find units.

Thorpe is used to advertising far and wide.

His current restaurant manager came to Whitehorse from the United Kingdom after responding to a Facebook advertisement.

He said while this is the first time he's offered rental subsidies to Canadian hires, they have always been a requirement for foreign workers hired under the Yukon Nominee Program.

Many Yukon employers, especially in the service industry, have used the program to help fill staff shortages.

Thorpe said the poster in Abbotsford has not produced any applications yet, but there has been interest.