Guelph Mercury Tribune 2022 in evaluate: Reporter Jessica Lovell displays on tales of the yr
As much as the first two years of the 2020s seemed to be characterized by themes of lockdown and isolation, 2022 has felt like a slow reawakening.
While many people — myself included — have continued to work from home and connect with one another through electronic means, in-person activities seemed to make a gradual comeback in Guelph over the past year.
I was excited each time I received a news release telling me an event that had gone virtual or been cancelled over the previous two years was back in person.
Unfortunately, as much as I had missed attending and reporting on local festivals and events when they returned to in-person formats, I didn’t get out to as many as I would have hoped. I blame it on a change in my employment status — from full- to part-time — in 2022, as I struggled to better balance work and family life.
Interestingly, as I look back through the stories I have written over the past year, I notice the changing labour market emerging as a common theme. The following stories are not necessarily my most read of 2022, but I’m sharing them as personal favourites because they highlight the issue of the changing labour market — an issue I suspect will continue to come up again and again as we work through the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
GUELPH BARBER SPROUTS SEED BUSINESS DURING PANDEMIC LOCKDOWN
I’ve heard the word “pivot” more times than I can count to describe how people, businesses, organizations and institutions adapted to the difficult conditions of the pandemic. Some people did unique things to keep existing businesses open; others took the pandemic as an opportunity to start fresh. Guelph barber Matthew Forbes was in the latter category. He started Saturday Seed Co, which he described as a “very small business,” growing, packaging and selling organic vegetable seeds to local gardeners. While he was able to return to cutting hair, he was hoping to eventually make the seed company his full-time gig.
‘THE PATIENTS JUST KEEP COMING’: BUSY GUELPH ER DELAYS AMBULANCES
This was just one of multiple Mercury Tribune stories from 2022 about the local impacts of an overburdened health care system. In the same week, reporter Graeme McNaughton wrote about local paramedics’ failure to meet cardiac arrest response targets in 2021. Earlier in the year, reporter Jonathan Duncan wrote about code red situations, in which there are no ambulances available for emergency calls. Multiple code reds in one night prompted my story, and staffing shortages at the hospital were named as one of the causes.
‘I LOVE WHAT I DO’: GUELPH ICU NURSES STICK WITH JOB DESPITE CHALLENGES
When that code-red issue came up again, I knew the reasons wouldn’t likely be different. But there was a different story to be told. Amid the ongoing staffing shortage being experienced at Guelph General and hospitals throughout the province, there are hospital staff who have continued to work through it and who continue to love the job. I wanted to share some of those stories.
GUELPH CUTS SOME SWIM PROGRAMS DUE TO LIFEGUARD SHORTAGE
The health care sector is far from the only one experiencing a labour shortage. Lots of people didn’t manage to get their kids signed up for swimming lessons in the fall due to the shortage of qualified staff and the consequent reduction in spaces. I believe it’s important that every child learn water safety and how to swim, so this story was important to me.
ROBOT REVOLUTION COULD BENEFIT WORKERS, CUSTOMERS IN GUELPH’S FOOD SERVICE SECTOR
It’s no secret that the food service industry is also seeing a labour shortage, but I was skeptical about robots being a possible solution. I was surprised to find technology, such as the Denny’s robot server was viewed in a positive light — not as something that takes away jobs from people, but as something that helps human workers.