November 11th, 2020
Letter of Support of Hospitality and Tourism Workers
Dear Minister Joly and Minister Qualtrough,
As the NDP Critic for Economic Development, Small Business and Tourism, I urge you to act immediately to protect tourism and hospitality jobs.
Travel related businesses of all sizes are experiencing direct impacts that threaten the survival of the industry. Over 200,000 businesses that support 1.8 million jobs are in danger. Workers in this industry, many of them seasonal or part-time, don’t know if they’ll have a job over the coming months and years.
Without more consistent revenue streams for the hospitality and airline sectors, workers within those fields will continue to experience massive layoffs and uncertain futures. One example that was brought to my attention recently was the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Vancouver, where 90 per cent of its 350 workers were laid off and only 35 workers are being supported by the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program Extending the CEWS program to June 2021 is not enough to support these workers, and it’s not fair to tell them that they need to apply for employment insurance while their industries get direct economic relief.
Sectoral relief to the hospitality and air transport sectors must be contingent on full participation in CEWS. Many employers within these sectors are seeking government assistance to survive the pandemic and the losses incurred this past summer. As a central pillar of the Canadian economy tourism and hospitality must be supported, but that support must include workers. Ensuring that tourism and hospitality workers will continue to receive a paycheck supported by CEWS provides stability not only to the industry, but also to the lives and families of the workers.
We also call on you to further protect hospitality and tourism workers by conditioning sectoral support on establishing the right of first refusal for laid-off workers. Laid-off workers have no guarantees from their former employers that their jobs will be restored or offered when the pandemic subsides. Those workers who have given years of their lives to their workplaces should be given the right of first refusal, protecting them from further restructuring or being replaced by a worker at a lower wage. The pandemic cannot be an opportunity for companies to restructure and cut labour costs.
By taking these measures you can protect the valuable jobs within Canada’s tourism and hospitality industry. While it’s important to provide relief to the tourism industry and the value it adds to Canada’s economy, support is meaningless if it does not protect the people who have kept the industry running for decades. Workers must be kept at the heart of any economic recovery that Canada offers.
Member of Parliament for Courtenay-Alberni