The last time you heard from me, The Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) was pushing hard for important policy changes to help launch our industry’s recovery. I am happy to share our advocacy has resulted in some significant wins.
Chief among our asks was to lift all border restrictions, testing and quarantine requirements and to make a commitment to keep the border open in future waves. This predictability was desperately needed to prepare for a strong summer and salvage the spring. We achieved this objective with sequential wins from February to April. Today, all restrictions are lifted, pre-departure testing is removed, and all spending associated with future testing and quarantines has been cut. These policy changes were critical to our industry’s survival and recovery.
Second, the federal budget announced a new Federal Tourism Growth Strategy. The purpose of this strategy is to identify key investments needed to build the sector back, whether that be immigration, debt forgiveness, marketing, destination development, or travel incentives; the government is committed to supporting our recovery and growth. Consultations will be launched shortly and HAC will be front and centre, ensuring it’s designed to meet the needs of our sector, especially as it pertains to labour. Stay tuned for more details on this.
Labour remains our top focus and I’m delighted to report we’ve made significant gains here as well. The budget included important changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) Program that will expedite processing and increase caps for accommodation employers. Commitments were also made to ensure Canada’s immigration system values the skills most needed by industries such as tourism. These were among our key asks leading into the budget. We also recently saw our international-student recommendation come to life. Effective summer 2022, international students will be able to stay and work in Canada for an additional 18 months if they are applying for permanent residency in 2022. The budget also announced investments into affordable housing – including rental housing – which is in short supply for hotel workers.
In other good news, for the first time in two years, we were all able to gather and celebrate our resiliency as an industry at HAC’s annual conference on May 3rd. I was overjoyed to see all the survivors in the audience and to re-connect with the heart and soul of our industry. I would like to extend a special thank you to Hotelier magazine for being our media partner.
As we gear up for a summer of recovery, we’ll be focused on making sure the TFW changes are working, we will continue to press for government’s return to business travel and securing its support to deploy a positive travel narrative. We’ll also focus on some important regulatory battles against short-term rental providers that continue to consume affordable housing for our workers and oversupply our major cities.
We are excited to roll up our sleeves and build on this momentum.
By Susie Grynol – Susie Grynol is the president of the Hotel Association of Canada.