Metro Vancouver hospitality workers union fighting for those laid off to maintain medical benefits

Press Coverage by Marcus Fitzgerald from News 1130.

VANCOUVER (News 1130) — A workforce already hit hard by layoffs in light of COVID-19 is fighting to keep medical benefits.

The union that represents those in the hospitality industry is leaning on employers at hotels, restaurants, and airports to make sure workers won’t have to worry about health costs.

Michelle Travis of Unite Here Local 40 says close to 95 per cent of those who go to work in hotels and restaurants have been laid off.

“For thousands of hospitality workers across the province, their medical coverage will start to run out in April. Our concern is that while employers may be getting relief or some other assistance, we don’t want to see workers lose their health coverage at a time when they need it the most.”

Travis says the union is asking employers to extend coverage during the pandemic, and they’re also asking the provincial government to make sure that employers don’t drop them at a time when they need their benefits.

“We want the province to send a strong message to employers that extending coverage is an obligation that they need to continue during this difficult time that we’re in.”

Travis points out that a small number of employers have stepped up to extend coverage, but it’s not universal.

“Some of our larger employers in the province have not agreed to do that yet, and we think at a time when we have a major global health crisis, we don’t want to see people lose their coverage right now.” Travis says. .

She adds it’s going to be sometime before all those laid-off workers will be able to get back to their jobs and get back to normal.

“(The workers) really need the income supports, and they also need to ensure their medical coverage can continue while they’re riding through this storm.”