Faced with a significant labour shortage and with the prospect of hundreds of thousands of visitors on their way to the province, the Quebec government is investing $2.5 million in the tourism industry.

There are 400,000 jobs in the sector, and few to fill them.

“I’m touring Quebec right now, just talking with business owners in the tourism industry,” said Caroline Proulx, Quebec’s tourism minister. “The shortage of people working in the industry is just really alarming.”

Kevin Quinn, a restaurant owner in Quebec City, recruited workers from Mexico last year and plans on doing so again this season.

“We thought we’d repeat the experience,” he said. “We ended up with six very competent, passionate people in our kitchen and we want to do it again.”

The province values the sector, one of its economy’s biggest drivers.

The government is launching a new, short-term training program for kitchen staff in nine regions across Quebec.

Part of the $2.5 million will be spent on targeting a cross-section of potential employees, including experienced workers, immigrants, and people with disabilities.

“I would say like a marketing campaign to make sure that people know more about the tourism impact on the province and all the possibilities for them to make a career in tourism,” said Lucie Charland, president of Quebec’s council on human resources in tourism.

Tourism brings in $15 million a year to Quebec.