‘How much has the government spent on this hotel while women like me are treated like we’re disposable?’
Vancouver, BC – Workers told the Standing Committee on Health yesterday that a federal quarantine hotel fired most of its female staff on the government’s watch, and more women could lose their jobs if the government fails to act. The hotel, Pacific Gateway at Vancouver International Airport, recently terminated over 140 long-term staff, primarily impacting women – many of whom are racialized.
“I was terminated last month along with many of my co-workers. The hotel fired 90% of our housekeeping staff. Most of us are women who have worked there for decades. There’s no reason why we should lose our jobs during a temporary pandemic,” said Kiran Dhillon, a room attendant who had worked at the hotel for seventeen years.
A human rights complaint over sex and racial discrimination was filed against the hotel this month alleging women, particularly racialized women, have been disproportionately targeted for terminations while men’s jobs were more likely to be protected. So far, the hotel has terminated 74% of its female employees since February 2021.
“Prime Minister Trudeau promised us a feminist recovery, but women are bearing the brunt of firings at Pacific Gateway on the government’s watch. How much has the government spent on this hotel while women like me are treated like we’re disposable? I am a single mom raising two children. I expected to go back to my job when it was time,” said Elisa Cardona, who worked at Pacific Gateway for seven years as a hostess and server.
After workers testified, opposition critics on the committee questioned Ian Stewart, President of the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), about the situation at the hotel and how long the government plans to continue its hotel quarantine program. Stewart would not say how long the federal government intends to continue with the program. When asked by NDP MP Don Davies whether PHAC would provide a copy of the government contract with Pacific Gateway to the Health Committee, Stewart said they would look into it.
Pacific Gateway is one of the original sites taken over by the federal government last year to quarantine travelers. Pacific Gateway workers, represented by UNITE HERE Local 40, went on strike on May 3, 2021 over hotel firings and drastic economic rollbacks. Workers have asked to return to their jobs after the federal quarantine ends and when the work becomes available again. The hotel has refused.
To view hotel workers’ testimony, go to: https://rb.gy/x5npkk
To view NDP MP Don Davies question to Ian Stewart, President of PHAC, go to: https://rb.gy/w7y8nl
To read Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner’s statement, go to: https://rb.gy/upzksm
To view Conservative MP John Barlow question Ian Stewart, go to: https://rb.gy/i3nfb7
The full committee meeting can be viewed here: https://parlvu.parl.gc.ca/Harmony/en/PowerBrowser/PowerBrowserV2/20210607/-1/35650?Language=English&Stream=Video
For more information, contact: Michelle Travis, [email protected], 778-960-9785.