NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and NDP health critic Don Davies are urging federal Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos to move Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) out of Pacific Gateway immediately and to urge the hotel to reinstate workers to their jobs. The government has been using Pacific Gateway as a federal quarantine hotel since last year. Over 140 workers – mostly women – were terminated after the takeover. Workers have been on strike since May 3, 2021.
In a letter addressed to Minister Duclos on December 13, Singh and Davies expressed their concerns about the ongoing situation at Pacific Gateway affecting the livelihoods of hotel workers. They noted “wretched” conditions at the hotel experienced by quarantined travellers, cited recently in The Globe and Mail, which is “matched by the terrible treatment of Pacific Gateway workers on the government’s watch.”
PHAC is currently contracting the Red Cross and others to deliver food and clean the hotel; these were duties performed by Pacific Gateway workers before they were displaced and, many of them, terminated. The hotel has refused to return terminated staff to their jobs after the quarantine program ends.
“That the government is continuing to give millions in public funds to a company while its workers are on strike and continues to hire contractors that cross their picket line, does not show your commitment to support workers and the work of unions,” the New Democrats stated.
Pacific Gateway workers brought this issue to the attention of former Health Minister Patty Hajdu, and former PHAC President Iain Stewart. However, PHAC has repeatedly extended its contract with the hotel. The NDP is joining the hotel workers’ call to Minister Duclos and new PHAC president Harpreet Kochhar to move PHAC out of the hotel and to not renew beyond December 2021.