B.C. to hire 1,400 laid-off tourism, hospitality workers to help run mass immunization clinics

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British Columbia is recruiting 1,400 furloughed workers in the province’s hard-hit hospitality and tourism sectors to help launch mass immunization clinics in April.

B.C. Premier John Horgan announced Wednesday that the province will hire workers from 14 organizations to perform non-clinical work in the province’s immunization centres.

The companies, which have suffered significant losses and laid off workers during the pandemic, include Air Canada, WestJet, Vancouver International Airport, the Vancouver Canucks and Tourism Whistler.

Workers to focus on logistical support

Dr. Penny Ballem, who is leading the province’s immunization program, said the workers will focus on logistical support, including managing the thousands of people who are expected to stream through the clinics.

The province says it will also rely on the workers’ language skills.

“We are extremely grateful to have them stepping forward and bringing their incredible skills around welcoming people,” Ballem said.

The companies have already started to call and train hundreds of staff to work in the immunization clinics, according to Ballem, who said she’s heard from seniors who have received their vaccine and been “delighted” with their experience.

“They’ve been received with such compassion and such care,” she said.

Other groups in the program include the B.C. Pavilion Corporation, Ceres Terminals Canada, the Canadian Red Cross, the Fraser Valley Bandits, Pacific Destinations Services, the Pacific National Exhibition and the Vancouver Giants.

Horgan said the workers will be paid by the companies, with the province topping up some salaries.