Press Release: Workers testify before House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, Urge Federal Government to Stop Subsidizing Pacific Gateway Hotel

Vancouver, BC – Hotel workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, were invited to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance on Friday. They urged the Government to live up to its promise of a feminist recovery and stop spending public money at Pacific Gateway Hotel, which has operated as a federal quarantine site since last year.

The Government has not disclosed how much they are paying the hotel, which recently fired over 140 workers.  Nearly two-thirds of those fired are women.  The Government displaced some of the workers when they brought in the Red Cross to perform their work.

While the hotel’s owners are receiving public money to operate as a quarantine site, they also appear in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Registry. The owners did not use the federal wage subsidy program to retain its laid-off workers.  The companies named in the CEWS Registry are PHI Hotel Group and Van-Air Holdings Ltd.

Elisa Cardona, a laid-off hostess who worked at Pacific Gateway for seven years told the Finance Committee: “Hotel management used the federal takeover as an excuse to terminate me and 140 of my co-workers.  That’s over 70 per cent of our staff.  Prime Minister Trudeau promised us a feminist recovery. But women are bearing the brunt of firings at our hotel on the government’s watch. These were living wage jobs that allowed us to support our families.”

“Mr. Trudeau, stop giving millions of dollars to our owners when we are losing our jobs,” said Kiran Dhillon, a room attendant with seventeen years on the job and was terminated alongside most of her co-workers this month.

Hotel workers want action from the Government to stop using or directing public money to Pacific Gateway. UNITE HERE also urged the government to restrict companies from tapping the proposed federal hiring subsidy, the Canada Recovery Hiring Program, or CEWS, if they eliminate their staff to replace them for less.

The House Finance Committee is reviewing the proposed 2021 Budget, which includes the proposed federal hiring subsidy for businesses, an extension of CEWS, and other COVID-related relief programs.

Workers at Pacific Gateway Hotel went on strike on May 3, 2021 to protest mass firings at the hotel.

Contact: Michelle Travis,, 778-960-9785


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