COVID19 has had a particularly harsh effect on air transportation and hotel industries, as they were the first to be impacted as a result of travel restrictions and social distancing measures. The tourism industry in Canada is a $ 103 billion industry, employing millions of Canadians, and will be recover slowly.
The cancellation of business conferences and conventions across the country is costing cities hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue as the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the tourism industry. Occupancy rates are below 10%, and in a 48-hour time frame, occupancy rates (as of March 21st) dropped by 50%. Major hotel brands have begun closing locations in Canada, but smaller hotels have been impacted as well. Hotels usually sit at a rate of 90% occupancy as they head into the summer season, but right now, hotels are vacant.
Hotel occupancy rates sit below 10 per cent on average, prompting more than 4,100 closures and 250,000 layoffs across the country — 83 per cent of the industry workforce — the Hotel Association of Canada said.
Last week, the British Columbia Hotel Association estimated a 50 to 80 percent reduction in staff, resulting in tens of thousands of jobs being eliminated because of the COVID-19 crisis.
Estimates predict that up to 250,000 hotel workers will lose their jobs and 90 percent of Canada’s hotels will close down amid the COVID-19 crisis. It also says the hospitality industry will be one of the last sectors to recover. https://globalnews.ca/news/6751796/hospitality-workers-hotels-hospitals-coronavirus/
We know that many of our members have been affected by the downturn in business because of Covid 19.
Some hotels have opened their doors to other front line workers to keep them safe and allow them to self isolate from family and continue to work. We have to ask who is going to work in these hotels and how will they themselves be protected. Other hotels are being asked to house the homeless or provide space for overflows in safe housing. Workers who continue to work in hotels need adequate pay protection and PPE access given the risks they are taking.
We must make sure that our Union Representatives are being consulted and that our Employers are providing safe work environments for our members.
The Hotel Association is highly interested in the Governments Wage Subsidy program and has also been soliciting the government for loans and other aids to assist when and if they must close their doors.
Guidance for members:
If you are laid off and need any assistance in applying for the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit or if your employer has been approved for the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy you may be called back and will have to reimburse the CERB payment that was received.
If you are concerned about the safety of your working conditions, you should discuss the situation with your employer.
- Discuss the situation with your union representative and health and safety representative
- You may also wish to consult the website for the department of labour in your province or territory for further information on your rights and the process you should follow.
- The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (https://www.ccohs.ca/) is another possible resource.
Now more than ever we need to make sure that people returning to work are provided the protection and the training to work in a new circumstances. The new normal includes PPE and disinfecting common areas, particularly in our hospitality industry. We also know with these additions, workers need to be assured through wage and benefit improvements that the industry has their best interest in mind as well as those of the clients.
How can we ask for additional wages and leaves at a time when so many have been laid off due to lack of work – because it’s the right thing to do – its right not just for those working but for our community and society as a whole. We must do better at protecting our communities and we do that with using the proper precautions for everyone.
Workers should not have to work sick, we know that – we know that many workers have struggled to pay the bills and felt they had no other options – we now know there must be options and we must as a society do everything we can to protect each other.
During a Federal Emergency, all workers should be paid an additional wage supplement to ensure continuity of work and to ensure workers have the ability under dire circumstances to report for work. The Employer must supply transportation, child care and proper PPE.
All workers must be provided paid sick time, emergency leave and child care leave, $15 and Fairness must be the minimum that is provided to workers and benefits must become part of the wage package.
The pandemic has put into focus the value of work that has traditionally been undervalued, it has also shone a spotlight on gaps in legislation and policies that have left workers and our communities vulnerable.
Given the uncertainty over the length of the pandemic and the reality that will ensue, as a society and labour movement, we must thinking of solutions that will fit the new reality we will find ourselves in.