The last time my column appeared, the federal government’s Tourism Growth Strategy had just been announced. Consultations are now underway and we are actively engaging with members to build our recommendations to government. This is a pivotal moment for our industry — we have a government that is committed to building sector back and an opportunity to secure some significant investments. Of course, we’re pressing hard to ensure labour will be a central focus of the strategy. There is strong co-ordination between the Hotel Association of Canada (HAC) and other national associations and stakeholders, such as the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, Tourism HR Canada and Destination Canada. Our goal is to ensure the industry is aligned in its response so we put forward bold, co-ordinated proposals. Once our consultations are done, we will be issuing key messages to members who wish to submit their views.
Since securing removal of all border testing on April 1, 2022, members have reported a surge in summer bookings and most are optimistic about the summer season. We were also pleased with the U.S. government announcement on June 10 that it will be fully lifting its testing requirements for travellers entering the U.S. This is an important step to make travel easier for Americans coming to Canada. We continue to work on reducing friction at the borders (especially airports) through our work with the Canadian Travel and Tourism Roundtable.
On the labour front, we’ve been busy. Our short-term work on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program is active as we seek to expedite processing of accommodation applications. We are pleased with our recent wins on this file including increased resources for processing; hotel-specific increase on caps on the number of temporary foreign workers (now up to 30 per cent of total staff); the doubling of the Labour Market Impact Assessment validity period to 18 months; ending automatic refusals in regions with six per cent unemployment and a forthcoming Trusted Employer stream. We will continue to press for adjustments to make this program as effective as possible for our industry.
The government also committed more than $400 million to increase efficiency of processing visitors, students and workers at our border. It will also be re-examining Canada’s immigration system to ensure that candidates for permanent residency better match the country’s labour needs.
These are steps in the right direction.
Our long-term focus is on securing a tourism and hospitality-specific immigration stream that includes a pathway to permanent residency. We’re also working on securing government marketing dollars to help with domestic recruitment. Our reputation needs a reboot after COVID.
As the summer season gears up, HAC is delighted that we are steadily on the road to recovery. We thank you for your endless support and engagement with us. We continue to make progress on your behalf because of you. Happy bookings!
Susie Grynol is the president of the Hotel Association of Canada.