Canadian Lodging News looks at what governments are doing to help with the COVID-19 pandemic, and how hotels are coping in every province.
ALBERTA: Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the AHLA, urged hoteliers to answer the AHLA’s Hotel Roll Call so that the association has accurate and up-to-date information to inform advocacy proposals and share with government. The association has set aside much of its regular programming and activities to focus on three key priorities: supporting Alberta hotels with important and timely communications; advocating for the industry and the public at large; and taking prudent steps to ensure the sustainability of the association. “We appreciate the serious hardship that each and every one of you is experiencing as a result of the escalating COVID-19 virus. You are all living the reality of its impact on our industry, including steep declines in occupancy, significant staff layoffs, and partial and complete hotel closures,” said Kaiser in a message to members.
BRITISH COLUMBIA: The union that represents more than 60,000 hospitality workers in B.C. says its members — many of them single mothers, immigrants and people of colour — are reeling from the fallout of COVID-19 layoffs and slowdowns, CBC reported on March 30. The president of Unite Here Local 40 said in the span of two weeks, 90 per cent of their members have lost their jobs. “Hospitality workers across B.C. are asking how am I going to pay my rent or mortgage? How am I going to put food on the table? How can I afford my prescriptions?” said Zailda Chan. Unite Here Local 40 members work in airports, hotels, food service and resource camps.
MANITOBA: On March 30, Restaurants Canada applauded the Manitoba government for providing restaurants with a lifeline to survive the COVID-19 crisis by allowing alcohol to be sold with takeout and delivery meal orders. “This is a bit of good news for an industry that has been decimated by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Restaurants Canada director Scot McTaggart. “Restaurants are struggling to survive, and this will give operators a new revenue source when it is needed most.” Restaurants Canada estimates that between 16,000 and 20,000 employees in Manitoba’s foodservice sector are already out of work. The national association expects widespread restaurant closures will cost the province’s economy $500 million over the next three months.
NEW BRUNSWICK: On April 1, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs extended the state of emergency for another two weeks, as the COVID-19 outbreak continues, with 11 new confirmed cases, bringing the province’s total to 81. Public Safety officers are now monitoring public areas, such as beaches and parks, to ensure people are obeying physical distancing guidelines and not gathering in groups, he said. The province is also putting up barriers in public places “as needed” and deploying security guards and law enforcement officers, Higgs told reporters during a recent daily update in Fredericton.
NEWFOUNDLAND AND LABRADOR: Along with actively monitoring and providing the latest information on COVID-19, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador has formed and is leading a working group surrounding the issue. This allows them to constantly engage with provincial partners to better understand the impacts that it’s having in the province. Hospitality NL is closely monitoring the outbreak with their partners; Tourism Industry Association of Canada, The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, Restaurants Canada, Hotel Association of Canada (among others) who are constantly monitoring the situation from official sources as well.
NOVA SCOTIA: Hotels in Atlantic Canada are bracing for a slow season during the COVID-19 pandemic, CBC reported. With summer right around the corner, hotels in the region would usually be gearing up to welcome an onslaught of guests. But amid the COVID-19 pandemic most sit empty. Ashley Field interviewed Erika Banting, who has owned the Tattingstone Inn in Wolfeville since 2015. Banting reported that they hadn’t had a guest in a about week and a half and don’t anticipate having any for quite some time. 2020 was supposed to be their biggest year yet, with bookings up 25 per cent, but that all changed March 11. “It’s been a devastating couple of weeks. Most hotels have laid off pretty much 90 or more per cent of their staff,” said Hotel Association of Nova Scotia president, David Clark. At his property, The Atlantica, in Halifax, they are open, but on a skeleton staff, down from 100 to 10.
ONTARIO: Tony Elenis, president and CEO of the ORHMA says his phone has been ringing off the hook, noting that it was great that Prime Minister Trudeau had offered to subsidize 75 per cent of the wages for small and medium-size business. ORHMA has a two pronged approach to COVID-19, focusing on relief and recovery. On the relief side, the ORHMA is asking the government to defer all types of payments including WSIB, and to provide interest-free loans. He is asking landlords to defer rent payments as many small businesses aren’t able to pay. “It’s going to be a long journey, he told CLN. “After the financial recession [in 2008], it took five years and some restaurants never recovered.” On the positive side, he noted that Restaurants Canada, HAC and TIAC have formed a coalition and are working together as partners to advocate to government, providing a stronger voice for the industry.
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND: TIAPEI CEO Kevin Mouflier told members, “Our number one concern is the health and safety of our tourism operators, their employees and visitors to Prince Edward Island. We recognize all industries on PEI, including tourism, will be impacted by COVID–19 and we are working closely with a working group comprised of representatives from Tourism PEI and invested stakeholders to monitor and, hopefully, mitigate any lasting negative impacts to our valued industry. I strongly urge all members of the tourism industry to ensure both you and your employees are well informed with the most up to date information and practice all recommended health and safety precautions issued by the Public Health Agency of Canada and Health PEI.”
QUEBEC: CFO Capital has announced financing for Chateau Mont-Sainte-Anne to convert to Delta Hotel by Marriott Mont-Sainte Anne. The hotel is located at the base of the ski and outdoor adventure resort of Mont-Sainte-Anne, Québec. Sitting on 9.12 acres with 210 guest rooms and a 40,000-square-foot, three-storey conference centre, it is the largest resort meeting and event space in Québec, coupled with a new aquatic centre that integrates the indoor and outdoor pools and a new four-season spa.
SASKATCHEWAN: Jim Bence, president and CEO of SHHA said in a recent message to members, “The Saskatchewan Hotel, Restaurant and Hospitality industry has been among the hardest hit segments of the economy. The shocking loss of millions of dollars over the course of just days has sent the industry into a state of crisis. Lay-offs have already started, austerity measures are being put in place, and many are not sure if they will weather this storm. These are unprecedented times and unfortunately there is no playbook. As you can imagine, we have been inundated with calls non-stop from members, media and government ministries. If I was to narrow it down to two constant themes, they would be layoffs (E.I.) and tax/expense relief. This crisis is devastating, but we know from experience that we will ‘Struggle and Emerge’. A conclusion is on the horizon, and now more than ever before, we must stick together, take care of one another, and plan for better days.”