COVID-19: Hospitality union offers help as hotels considered as makeshift hospitals

As governments look to use hotels as makeshift hospitals for some COVID-19 patients, the union representing Canada’s hospitality workers says their members want to help.

“We support any effort that leads to curb the spread of virus,” Unite Here Toronto president Guled Warsame said.

“For this reason, government and industry must partner with our union on any takeover of our hotels… Hotel and food service workers must be free to choose to work in such conditions, and if they choose so they must receive training, protective equipment and compensation. ”

The union estimates up to 250,000 hotel workers will lose their jobs and 90 per cent of Canada’s hotels will close down amid the COVID-19 crisis. It also says the hospitality industry will be one of the last sectors to recover.

Unite Here Canadian director Ian Robb says his organization is willing to work with governments to help find solutions.

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“Who is going to operate the hotels? Who is going to work in the hotels?” he asks.

“We think it’s a great move to move some of the less needy folks out of the hospitals into the hotel rooms to make room for more important patients. We’d like to have discussions around that.”

Last week, the British Columbia Hotel Association estimated a 50 to 80 per cent reduction in staff, resulting in tens of thousands of jobs being eliminated because of the COVID-19 crisis.

— With files from Jules Knox

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