Calgary-area MPs question why the federal government spent about $7 million last year on the city’s quarantine hotel, which only accommodated 15 people.
Michelle Lempel Garner has been a Quarantine Hotel critic from the beginning.
She now says the money spent on them was wasted.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government set up isolation hotels in four Canadian cities with international airports.
Calgary spent nearly $27 million over the next two and a half years on the Westin Calgary Airport Hotel.
By the second half of 2020, it had spent $8.9 million and accommodated 119 travelers.
In the 2021-22 fiscal year, it jumped to $11.13 million, but the head count also jumped to 1,356.
After that, by the time the program ended in October last year, it had spent $6.79 million and could only accommodate 15 travelers.
Lempel Garner said: “This is gross mismanagement and waste.
When Rempel Garner saw what she paid to use the hotel in 2022, she was stunned when she said it would equate to just over $450,000 per traveler.
“Think of that amount of money, you know, especially in Calgary, which you can use to buy a house,” Lempel Garner said.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants answers.
Franco Terrazzano of the Taxpayers Federation of Canada said, “People are really struggling to get their necessities. We hear examples of extreme waste coming out of Ottawa. I think it will be painful for Canadians.”
When tracked by CTV, the federal transport minister said the government was facing an unprecedented crisis and placed a higher value on saving lives than saving money.
Transport Minister Omar Al-Ghabra said: “Thousands of lives have been saved because of the public health measures we have implemented.
“Of course, there is time to look back and learn from those lessons, but at the time we did what we felt was necessary to protect the health and safety of Canadians.”
In the House of Commons, Lempel Garner lashed out at the Federal Health Minister.
“How many other hotels has this happened to? And has anyone been fired for this waste?” she asked at question time.
“Our primary responsibility was and still is to protect the safety and health of Canadians, including the tens of thousands of people who had to access designated quarantine facilities,” said Jean. = Health Minister Yves Duclos said.
Not all of this money actually went to the Westin hotel chain.
Some of it went to other businesses over the course of two and a half years.
Here in Calgary, the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires got $1.7 million.
Red Cross, nearly $1.5 million.
Cleaning company Winmar also received $1.14 million.
Aaron Paramedical and Fenton Bus Services also earned small amounts.
It is not yet known how much money was spent on quarantined hotels in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal, or how many people stayed.