One Vancouver hotel took in 2,204 travellers forced to quarantine as part of federal program

Many hotel staff were laid off before the business received their contract to be a Designated Quarantine Facility.

One Vancouver hotel took in 2,204 travellers forced to quarantine as part of the federal program
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The information comes from an inquiry of Health Ministry came from NDP MP Don Davies (Vancouver-Kingsway) who asked about the number of travellers who had been forced to quarantine at one hotel in the Greater Vancouver area.

The Designated Quarantine Facility (DQF) site at Pacific Gateway saw 2,204 detainees between March 2020 and January 2022 before the facility was retired from the DQF program in favour of a smaller facility in February 2022.

The documents returned by the ministry show the $200 million DQF program was put through the federal government's Gender-Based Analysis Plus lens to determine the impacts of the program on women and gender-diverse populations. There have been multiple allegations of sexual assault and harassment made by travellers forced to quarantine in DQF sites.

The documents provided by Health Canada also detail the criteria for selecting DQFs:

PHAC canvassed hotels that were willing to partner to provide quarantine facilities and selected sites based on a number of criteria, including, location, ventilation, physical layout, space requirements and accessibility. Exploratory conversations occurred with hotels to determine their willingness to have strict infection prevention, control, and retrofit as required.

The Pacific Gateway Hotel at Vancouver Airport (PGH) and the Westin Calgary Airport were selected through this process.

According to the order paper return, the Pacific Gateway had laid off many of the hotel's staff before the contract with the feds to become a DQF:

The majority of Pacific Gateway Hotel employee layoffs were made between February 20, 2020 and March 20, 2020, due to a rapid decline in tourism at the onset of the pandemic. This is prior to the designation of the hotel as a quarantine facility on March 27, 2020. At that time, PHAC officials met with hotel management and employees to explain how they could safely support aspects of the quarantine operation. Approximately 30% of the staff were retained to continue performing duties at the hotel outside the isolation areas, managing building and perimeter security, meal preparation, and reception/front-desk activities.


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