Photo by Nick Wong

As the pandemic continues to wreak havoc, hotel closures have begun to accelerate. Over the past few weeks, in the U.S., several notable hotels have permanently closed their doors, including the Hilton Times Square in New York City and the Luxe hotel in Beverley Hills. In Canada, while few prominently named hotels have been shuttered, there’s mounting concern that without continued government support, the casualties will soon follow.

Last month, a few days before the Throne Speech from the Liberal government was set to take place, more than 40 companies formed a coalition to put pressure on the Federal government to extend the wage subsidy, claiming without this help, the industry was at peril and that more hotel doors would forever be closed. Based on the deliverables from the Throne Speech, it appears the government listened.

According to Susie Grynol, president of the Hotel Association of Canada, the government had a decision to make — let the hotel sector die or choose to let it live.

“Today the Government chose to stand behind our industry. This action is a direct result of our lobbying work…The heavy lifting is done,” she said, pointing to initiatives such as extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to summer of 2021; expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs; improving access to Government loans (BCAP); and introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality and cultural industries such as the performing arts.
Though the industry was happy with the announcements, Grynol says, “Now we start the important work of launching these programs and working through design elements to ensure they fully meet the needs of our industry. Our goal will be speed, recognizing the critical state of our industry.”

In addition to the main requests, Grynol says “The icing on the cake was a commitment to address tax avoidance by digital giants. This has been a long-time advocacy issue for the industry as we were working to level the playing field against short-term-rental providers like Airbnb. Our goal…was to ensure we had the support of government behind us on our critical ask to survive, and we achieved that.”

She also adds the fact the sector includes one of the most-diverse workforces in the country — 60 per cent of workers are women, 31 per cent are immigrants and 29 per cent are visible minorities — was compelling to the government. “These are the very populations the government and the Bank of Canada have identified as vulnerable Canadians, and they will indeed be protected through these additional support measures.”


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