Searching for answers at a quarantine hotel — and we got some... sort of

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It’s been about a week since those new and not-so-improved quarantine hotels went into operation, thanks to Justin Trudeau’s Order in Council issued in late February. And if one were to give this program a letter grade, surely it would be F — as in F for Fiasco.

After all, what have we witnessed thus far? How about a 1-800 quarantine hotel hotline that simply does not work? Surly service. Grotesque food that not even a dog would consume. Substandard hotel room accommodations. Absolutely outrageous room rates (typically, about $2,000 for a three-night stay). And, most shockingly of all, allegations of sexual assault against female inmates — er, I mean “guests.”

I recently had the chance to interview Cristina Teixeira of Bowmanville, Ont. Cristina, her daughter and her brother recently flew to Portugal. But this was certainly no pleasure trip. Quite the opposite, unfortunately: Cristina’s father had passed away, and she and her family members travelled overseas to make the necessary funeral arrangements. It was indeed an essential trip, but when Cristina and her family returned to Toronto, they didn’t receive compassion; rather, aggravation and exploitation was the order of the day.

For starters, her hotel bill was more than $3,400 for three nights at the Crowne Plaza Toronto Airport — when the typical room rate at this hotel should be about $159 per night. And get this: it turns out that Cristina and her family only ended up having to stay one night — but that didn’t matter, as they were on the hook for the three night “package price.”

Cristina said it was impossible to get any answers about the hotel quarantine program, and officials refused to allow her to quarantine at home on compassionate grounds upon arrival to Canada.

She says some of the food served to them resembled “slop,” and for some reason, a staff member at the hotel demanded her daughter delete any cellphone images of the hotel (prompting the question: why the secrecy?).

We paid a visit to the Crowne Plaza after our interview with Cristina, and it made for a surreal sight. For starters, members of the general public are also staying at this hotel, so how is this a quarantine facility, in the truest sense of the word, in the first place? We also found a guest who could not speak English on the 11th floor who seemed to be wandering about in a disorientated state. And while we appreciated getting an interview with the hotel’s manager, he didn’t really provide tangible answers to our queries.

Bottom line: whether or not one agrees with the quarantine hotel program, the fact remains: law-abiding, tax-paying Canadian citizens who are being incarcerated here deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not be disrespected and price-gouged. The current state of affairs regarding this initiative by the Trudeau Liberals is completely unacceptable and downright shameful.

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