(January 12, 2021) The Alberta Hospitality Association supported the government’s decision of a temporary lock-down but with no clear end in sight and a lack of supporting data, it is difficult justifying having some industries closed while others remain open. Closed sectors of the economy such as hospitality, cosmetology, and fitness are industries that are highly regulated with rigorous safety standards that provide safe environments for both guests and employees, and yet they remain closed.

The Government of Alberta has committed to protecting lives and livelihoods – the current state is unbalanced and unfair. We ask that the Alberta Government:

  1. Reopen dine-in with strong risk mitigation measures in place
  2. Allow the industry to provide Albertans a safe space
  3. Commit to no more shutdowns and lay out the milestones to normality

The over one hundred and fifty thousand Albertans who work in the hospitality industry are struggling. Without better communication, fact-based data, and a clear near-term re-opening plan, we will continue to permanently lose businesses and jobs.  This will have long term repercussions including mass unemployment and irreparable economic and cultural damage to our communities.

On behalf of the Alberta Hospitality industry, we ask that these points be addressed:

  • Provide a clear path to normalcy for our Industry. We understand there is uncertainty, but the milestones must be identified, clearly communicated, and committed to by Government.  This will save thousands of jobs by providing a reasonable foundation for businesses to plan. This must be backed by data and measurable targets such as:
    • What does the R rating have to be?
    • What do daily case counts have to be?
    • Clarification of a targeted numbers of hospitalizations
  • As 59% of cases cannot be traced due to the lack of capacity from Contact Tracing in Alberta our industry has been targeted and continues to remain closed while other industries and sectors are allowed to be open. There has been incomplete and inaccurate data that doesn’t justify why the hospitality industry been targeted.
  • AHS has not been mandated to report cases coming out of the businesses and sectors that have remained open; and there have been no reports from AHS on any cases coming from these establishments or their staff. Why are these businesses not held to the same standards and consequences as the hospitality industry? There must be reform on exactly what AHS reports publicly coming out of COVID. The restaurant industry cannot be unfairly targeted and villainized moving forward.
  • Curfew restrictions remove safe and controlled options for Albertans to enjoy food and beverages at a time when the likely alternative is unregulated social gatherings in private residences. This was formerly the stance of our Premier and Chief Medical Officer.
  • AHA worked closely with InUnison (an Alberta based H&S technology company) to create a comprehensive tool to implement H&S policies and procedures in businesses. This is a risk mitigation measure the industry undertook independent from government. The product has continued to evolve and provides up to date information. No other industry to our knowledge has developed such a comprehensive tool.
  • Mental health has become a leading concern for our industry. There have been documented suicides in addition to undocumented cases of depression and anxiety afflicting many and the numbers continue rise. There is an overwhelming fear for many of unemployment, the inability to make ends meet, and keeping a roof over their heads. Greater consideration needs to be given to the message heard by workers in “non-essential” industries and the sense it gives them of therefore being nonessential.  How is the Alberta Government considering these factors when it decides to close entire industries?

Hundreds of thousands of jobs across the province depend on open communication and a concrete plan from the Alberta Premier, the Chief Medical Officer, and our elected officials. We ask that these questions be answered with fact-based data so we can share your response with our fellow Albertans and make informed decisions about the future of our industry.

Regards,

The Alberta Hospitality Association Board of Directors

Ernie Tsu, President (Calgary)

Leslie Echino, Vice-President (Calgary)

Brennen Wowk, Secretary/ Treasurer (Red Deer)

Brett Ireland (Calgary)

Jeff Jamieson (Calgary)

Derek Moe (Grande Prairie)

Chris Lachance (Edmonton)

Mark Kuspira (Calgary)

Katy Bond, Communications Director (Calgary)