After almost two years being operated under the auspices of the federal government, it appears a Richmond hotel’s duty as a COVID-19 quarantine facility of travellers is over.
The Richmond News understands from the union representing around 140 long-term workers laid-off by the Pacific Gateway Hotel that its contract with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) has been terminated.
According to Unite Here Local 40, the hotel on Cessna Drive near YVR stopped receiving quarantined travellers on Jan. 21, with the contract being moved to another hotel.
It’s not clear what hotel that is and if the Pacific Gateway will be resuming its usual operations.
Since March 2020, the hotel has been primarily used by the PHAC for the aforementioned function, with Red Cross workers reportedly replacing the duties of 143 unionized workers, who have since been let go.
The union said about 70 per cent of the hotel’s workforce “has been terminated” since the start of the pandemic, with the remainder “on strike.”
Unite Here Local 40 is now calling for a boycott of the hotel, if and when it returns to its former status.
“Finally, the federal government has heard our calls to move out of Pacific Gateway,” said Jillian Louie, a former Pacific Gateway server.
“We asked MPs across the political spectrum and PHAC to stop bankrolling the hotel. I worked there for 28 years, but the owners took advantage of the COVID-19 crisis and terminated most of us.
“That’s not right. No one should spend money at a hotel that treats us like we’re disposable,”
The Richmond News has reached out to PHAC and the hotel for more information and for comment.
Over the last 22 months, the displaced, and subsequently laid-off, workers, met with MPs, testified before parliamentary committees and held protests urging federal ministers and the PHAC to end the government’s use of the hotel.
Workers went on strike in May 2021 in response to the hotel’s mass terminations and, near the end of last year, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh wrote to federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, questioning the continued use of the hotel at the expense of long-term jobs.