The plight of tourism and hospitality business owners in dealing with devastation wrought by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions has been well documented.
There are some glimmers of hope, such as the Rosewood Hotel Georgia’s plans to reopen on May 1. But in-restaurant dining remains closed, and some downtown hotels have been shuttered since last spring.
New programs and training opportunities, however, could soon be on the horizon for hard-hit businesses thanks to the go2HR human resources organization.
Go2HR also assists with programs to support the health and safety of workers.
“We’re doing a number of things, to try to support employers, and the workforce, to be there through this time, and its transition to recovery,” go2HR CEO Krista Bax told BIV.
While a B.C. government campaign aims to hire more than 1,400 laid-off hospitality employees to work at vaccination centres, other workers remain at job sites where government-mandated COVID-19 safety plans are in place.
WorkSafeBC oversees the enforcement of those plans but does not have the resources needed to help the tens of thousands of industry businesses where owners may have questions about how well their system complies with WorkSafeBC requirements.
“That capacity is just not there at WorkSafeBC,” Bax said. “They provide the framework and the tools and the resources, but not every employer knows how to use those tools and resources.”
WorkSafeBC has provided an undisclosed amount of money to go2HR to work with the industry to ensure that COVID-19 safety plans adhere to requirements.
Go2HR is a non-profit but it charges fees to provide some training programs to the industry, such as Foodsafe, which is the sector’s food-handling and sanitation training program.
It is now helping develop a course on COVID-19 safety protocols. That course may be free for the industry and financed by the provincial government if Victoria comes through with funding for the proposal that the B.C. Tourism Task Force requested in its December report.
Minister of Tourism Arts, Culture and Sport Melanie Mark, at a recent tourism conference, said her government would go ahead with the training. However, Bax said, “The terms on how that is happening have not yet been confirmed.”
Another new initiative that go2HR is forging ahead with in partnership with Mark’s ministry relates to researching the labour market.
A 15-month project was launched in January and is valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to Bax.
Go2HR researchers plan to forecast what workforce demand will be like and to create different scenarios, such as an optimistic result, a pessimistic outcome and a projection that lies somewhere in the middle.
“It will help us track employment activity on a monthly basis, to understand how recovery is going,” she said.
A likely future partnership at go2HR, in conjunction with the Canadian Mental Health Association, will also involve a mental-health program aimed at the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Whatever future partnerships go2HR embarks on, it will aim to provide services to tourism and hospitality operators for as little cost to the industry as possible, given how strapped employers are.
“We know that employers can’t pay for their human resource services right now,” Bax said. “All of our employers in the sector are so tapped out, and financially stressed with the pandemic. We’re very cognizant of what we ask people to pay for.” •