For Immediate Release:
Over 60,000 B.C. hospitality workers are reeling from the blunt economic trauma hitting our industry due to the spread of the new coronavirus. In the span of one week, our members and tens of thousands other hospitality workers in hotels, restaurants and food service workers who prepare meals for airlines, airport travelers, universities and resource camps have lost work, are going on long-term layoffs and are now at risk of losing their medical coverage, which is based on hours worked. The loss of income is abrupt and painful. And during a life-threatening global pandemic, the average hospitality worker, many of whom are women with children to support, cannot afford to also lose their medical coverage.
During this time of uncertainty, our members are pulling together to get through one of the greatest challenges our industry has ever faced. What is missing is a commitment from hospitality employers to ensure their employees do not lose medical benefits during this unprecedented public health crisis. Without that promise, hotel and food service workers with reduced hours or lost pay will not be able to afford prescription medicine for themselves or their family members if they become sick or exposed to COVID-19. While we are working with a few employers who are stepping up to make sure their employees do not face a medical care gap at this critical time, too many employers are leaving hospitality workers in the lurch.
Take, for example, the hotel industry. In Vancouver alone, thousands of hotel workers are employed by the world’s largest hotel operators in hotels owned by some of the wealthiest developers in Canada. Until very recently, B.C.’s hotel industry enjoyed years of record revenues for much of the last decade – in part thanks to the dedicated work of union and non-union hotel workers alike. Today, hotel companies may soon be in line asking for government assistance and other forms of tax relief. Will employers be expected to extend medical coverage to their employees in exchange for government assistance?
While we are relieved to see federal and provincial levels of government grapple with the vast needs facing Canadian workers right now, we anticipate additional measures will be required to stem the drastic loss of jobs and income faced by workers in hospitality and other sectors of the economy. We also urgently need employers in the industry to collaborate with us and protect the health of hospitality workers. They can ensure workers maintain medical coverage during this crisis and help fill the gap that government is not yet prepared to fill.
For more information, please contact: Michelle Travis, (778) 960-9785, [email protected]