The government will put 1,400 laid-off hospitality and tourism employees back to work by providing them jobs at mass immunization centres.
Premier John Horgan announced the move at a Wednesday afternoon news conference, saying the sector was among the hardest hit when the COVID-19 pandemic began.
The province announced a partnership with 14 businesses across the province that will “put some of these furloughed workers back to work,” Horgan said.
They will perform non-clinical staff work at B.C.’s COVID-19 immunization centres.
Air Canada, Westjet, YVR, the Vancouver Canucks, the Vancouver Giants and the Fraser Valley Bandits, the PNE, Marine Terminals, Tourism Whistler, the Red Cross, port authority organizations and various business bureaus have all offered to help, said Horgan. The province will continue to employ those workers until they’re no longer needed.
“As long as we need the help and support…they stand ready to go to the last needle, the last jab,” he said.
Dr. Penny Ballem, the head of the immunization plan rollout, said employing hospitality workers was a “Team BC” approach.
“Bringing their incredible skills around welcoming people, managing the flow of a large number of people in complex venues…providing that environment that they do everyday in their normal jobs and placing that in our clinics,” she said.
Kathy DeLisser, a spokesperson for Ceres Terminals Canada, said the decision to partner with the government and provide staffers for immunization centres was a no-brainer because the sooner people are vaccinated, the sooner tourism can open back up.
That company is supporting five clinics in the Vancouver and Fraser Health regions.
“It is so rewarding when you see people coming in and they’re so excited to get their vaccine that they’re smiling and laughing when they get it,” she said.