‘Our union acted immediately to ensure workers could access vital services from the Centre for job training, food and housing security, and mental health supports’
Workers’ union Unifor has partnered with the Hospitality Workers Training Centre to support laid-off workers in hospitality and food service across the Greater Toronto Area.
“Hotel and food service workers are among the hardest hit by the pandemic,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “That's why our union acted immediately to ensure workers could access vital services from the Centre for job training, food and housing security, and mental health supports.”
The centre was founded during the SARS pandemic in 2003 and currently provides immediate one-on-one supports for all workers in the sector, including job training. Through its Rapid Response to Support Hospitality and Food Service Sector Impacted by COVID-19, it will help impacted workers through career coaching and networking supports; referrals to other social services such as housing and mental health supports; and training, development and reskilling opportunities. It will also help workers understand and navigate their rights and responsibilities during layoffs and/or job restructuring.
The centre will also provide sector employers access to information on government relief and financial supports and evolving health and safety standards, as well as other timely insights to help support businesses and its workforce.
“Workers in hotels and restaurants are among some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community and will need significant help navigating the current crisis and what may be a lengthy recovery," said Lis Pimentel, Unifor organizer and chair of the board of the Hospitality Workers Training Centre. "The centre is an integral part of a robust community COVID-19 response that provides fundamental services to workers facing the pandemic's economic hardships."
Unifor also said it will continue to pressure the federal and provincial governments and employers to adequately protect workers from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The union continues to pursue greater enhancements to the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) and health benefits for those without coverage amid job losses for hospitality and food service workers. It is also pressuring governments and employers to increase participation in the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program.
The union is also working to ensure that all workers have access to adequate personal protective equipment and safe workloads, and that safety measures are in place as workplaces reopen, among others.