China’s latest threats cause concern over security, privacy risks
For Immediate Release
Vancouver, May 9, 2019 – UNITE HERE, the union for hospitality workers, is formally urging Ottawa to assess the security and privacy risks stemming from the Chinese government’s control of a Canadian nursing home chain and its ties to Canada’s largest hotel company.
Anbang, owner of nursing home chain Retirement Concepts, is controlled by the Chinese government and may have been behind the acquisition of InnVest Hotels. In a letter* to Minister of Innovation Navdeep Bains and Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale, UNITE HERE urges the government to undertake a new assessment of the risks to Canadians in these sectors given escalating diplomatic tensions with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
UNITE HERE is asking Ottawa to examine Anbang and Bluesky and determine who has access to sensitive personal data managed on their behalf and to identify what protocols are in place to secure the personal, financial, medical and other sensitive information belonging to seniors, employees and hotel customers across Canada.
The PRC’s ties to the senior care and hospitality sectors may provide access to large troves of personally identifiable data on Canadians. It was recently reported that China’s Ministry of State Security was behind the massive cyber attack against the Marriott hotel chain which compromised the personal information of nearly 500 million Starwood guests over a four-year period.
“China’s latest retaliatory actions against Canada and its history of cyber attacks is alarming. We think an examination into whether the appropriate due diligence has been undertaken and an assessment of the potential risks to Canadians needs to be urgently addressed by the federal government,” said Zailda Chan, President of UNITE HERE’s British Columbia Local.
An affiliate of Vancouver-based Pacific Reach Properties sold Retirement Concepts to Anbang in 2017. Retirement Concepts is British Columbia’s largest senior care chain with two facilities in Alberta and one in Quebec. Anbang was seized by Chinese authorities soon after and brought under state control after its CEO was sentenced to 18 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement. The Chinese government holds a 98 per-cent stake in Anbang.
Last year, Ottawa blocked the sale of construction giant Aecon to CCCI over national security concerns. The Chinese government holds a 64 per-cent stake in CCCI’s parent company.
Press reports have speculated that Anbang could be behind Bluesky’s acquisition of InnVest, Canada’s largest hotel owner. The ownership of Bluesky remains murky, but the CEO of its subsidiary, InnVest, is a former Anbang executive. Bluesky owns the Hyatt Vancouver, the Fairmont Vancouver Airport, the Ottawa Marriott and nearly 80 other hotels in major cities across Canada.
Last month, the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliament (NSICOP) warned in a report that China is a threat due to its efforts to engage in espionage and foreign influence activities in Canada.
“How is Ottawa, or even the companies managing nursing homes and hotels with ties to the Chinese government, prepared to protect thousands of seniors, employees and the travelling public from the PRC’s intelligence gathering efforts?” said Chan.
UNITE HERE represents over 270,000 hospitality workers throughout Canada and the United States, including some who work in hotels owned by Pacific Reach Properties, which continues to operate Retirement Concepts, and Bluesky Hotels & Resorts.
Michelle Travis, [email protected], (778) 960-9785
*A copy of UNITE HERE’s letter to Minister Bains and Minister Goodale is available upon request.