Toronto’s Hotel X is just one employer refusing to uphold their responsibility to workers during this pandemic. This luxury hotel switched subcontractors, resulting in the termination of over 200 workers. Instead of making sure that those who cleaned, cooked and served food to keep the hotel running would get work through the new subcontractor, the hotel is claiming no responsibility. Because of this mass termination, each worker is owed 12 weeks in termination pay, collectively being owed over $1.4 million.
A Toronto Star article released Monday details the workers’ shock at being left in the lurch, while Hotel X hides behind weak labour laws that often fail to protect workers . Companies should not be allowed to keep “exploiting grey zones that obscure responsibilities for worker rights” . Let’s show our support for the hospitality workers left stranded: send a letter to owner Henry Kallan demanding that Hotel X pay up! Your letter will also send a message to Ontario’s Ministry of Labour that it’s time for employers to be held responsible for the rights of ALL their workers, whether hired directly or indirectly. You can also share the Hotel X article online using the hashtag #PayUpHotelX and tagging @HotelXToronto.
This is no time to leave any worker without support. We are officially in the second wave of COVID-19 with infection rates increasing on a daily basis. Workers need adequate income support as businesses again start to close and more of us are out of work. That’s why so many of us raised our voices to improve Employment Insurance (EI) rates and the newly announced Recovery Benefits that are replacing CERB, which ended in September. For those workers now on EI, the weekly minimum benefit is now a taxable $500 per week. If you were not automatically transferred from CERB to EI, then you may need to apply to EI through Service Canada. For support applying for any benefits, please call our Workers’ Information hotline at 416-531-0778 (toll-free: 1-855-531-0778).
For workers not eligible for EI, the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will offer $500 per week for up to 26 weeks. You are eligible for the new CRB if, due to COVID-19, you lost your job or had your income cut by 50%. You do need to have a valid Social Insurance Number, be a resident, and have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or 2020. Workers on CRB have to reapply after every 2-week period. The CRB is not yet open for applications, but more details will be available on Monday, October 12. To prepare, make sure you have set up a CRA My Account with direct deposit.
The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) are now open for applications through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The CRSB provides $500 for up to 2 weeks if you cannot work at least 50% of your work week because you are sick with COVID-19, you were advised to self-isolate, or you have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk. The CRCB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if you must stay home to care for a child under 12 or other dependent due to school or other closures, or because they have been advised by a doctor not to attend.
We need to make sure those benefits continue past 26 weeks as many sectors of the economy will not be opening until the fall of 2021. We also need to continue to fight for more access so that all workers can get the benefit regardless of immigration status. Yet again, the Federal government has denied thousands of undocumented essential workers from accessing any income support. Add your name to this letter calling for equal rights and status for all.
Finally, we wanted to make sure you knew that on October 1st, the minimum wage in Ontario was adjusted up from $14 to $14.25 per hour to keep up with inflation. But $14.25 is still below the poverty line and much less than the $15.65 minimum wage we’d have if Premier Ford had not cancelled our $15. Now more than ever, workers need to do what we can to fight bad bosses and weak labour laws. Will you take action today?
 Toronto Star article: ‘This is a horrible situation.’ Workers who lost their jobs at Hotel X amid the pandemic say they’re still owed $1.4 million
 Toronto Star editorial: Ontario needs to step in and protect workers