Press Release: Local 40 Calls on BC Government to Extend Hospitality Workers’ Healthcare during COVID-19 Crisis

April 6, 2020

Vancouver, BC With thousands of hospitality workers just days away from losing their healthcare coverage, UNITE HERE Local 40 calls on BC’s provincial leaders to ensure that employers extend medical benefits in this time of unprecedented crisis.

At the end of April, Canada’s laid-off hospitality workers will lose their employer-provided healthcare coverage, but the $27 billion dollar COVID-19 federal response will do nothing to provide an emergency healthcare net for those who need it. The latest COVID-19 policies and relief coming from our government officials still leaves the health needs of hospitality workers in the lurch.

While we commend the very few hospitality employers who have committed to extending medical benefits for workers so far, none of the major hotels have ensured protection. We need our provincial leaders and employers to step up to the plate and not leave the real health care and economic needs of hospitality workers behind.

Zailda Chan, Local 40 President, says: “Hospitality workers across B.C. are among the hardest hit by this global pandemic. Almost 95% of hospitality workers in hotels, airports, food service, and remote camps have lost their jobs. During this public health crisis, the hospitality industry will be receiving government assistance and relief for employer health tax payments while simultaneously cutting workers off of their health coverage. That is why we are calling on the government and employers to ensure workers keep their health coverage when they need it most.”

Naden Abenes, a member of Local 40 who works at Hyatt Regency Vancouver, says, “Getting laid off was devastating, but losing my medical benefits is the tip of the iceberg. On top of making sure there’s food on the table every night, I’m worried sick about catching the virus because if I do I won’t be able to afford prescriptions.”

Media Contacts:
Michelle Travis, 778-960-9785,
Stephanie Fung, 604-928-7356,


UNITE HERE Local 40 is the hospitality workers’ union and represents members in the hotel, food service and airport industries throughout British Columbia. Learn more at