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Campaign aimed at helping Banff, Lake Louise hospitality workers

“While it’s no secret that the pandemic has affected the outlook of people far and wide, those working in hospitality have been hit especially hard," said Wanda Bogdane with the Banff Lake Louise Hospitality Association. "If these numbers hold true, it means that nearly every person you interact with in Banff National Park is facing enduring sadness or distress. That’s a big deal.”
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A Town of Banff peace officer walks along a busy Banff Avenue on Thursday, Dec. 31, 2020. EVAN BUHLER RMO FILE PHOTO

BANFF – A new campaign is being launched to help the several thousand regional hospitality workers who may be experiencing loneliness, stress or other mental health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Banff and Lake Louise Hospitality Association (BLLHA) is running the targeted support campaign to help workers understand the supports that are available in the region.

“Many people don't know that there is free and confidential support available, so we assessed who offers what, and repackaged the services through a few different lens,” Wanda Bogdane, the director of communications and stakeholder relations, said in a release.

“This includes where to go for 24-hour support or urgent help, and who has translation services. We also learned that how people want to receive help varies, so the campaign groups services available by chat, phone, virtual or in person.”

Bogdane said a recent survey of employers in Banff National Park showed 93 per cent of them were seeing mental health concerns in employees.

Information from the BLLHA’s human resources committee have shown the employees in most need are staff between 20 and 30 years of age living away from family, people in management and leadership roles, and English as a second language foreign-born workers.

“While it’s no secret that the pandemic has affected the outlook of people far and wide, those working in hospitality have been hit especially hard," Bogdane said. "If these numbers hold true, it means that nearly every person you interact with in Banff National Park is facing enduring sadness or distress. That’s a big deal.”

The region of Banff and Lake Louise relies heavily on tourism and the workers who occupy those jobs. The pandemic has heavily impacted the industry and created uncertainty in employees, with unemployment high, businesses not able to run to full capacity and a higher risk of contracting COVID-19.

At the beginning of the pandemic, reports estimated the unemployment rate reached as high as 85 per cent in Banff.

Prior to the latest public health restrictions as COVID-19 cases surged once again, Alberta had an unemployment rate of 9.1 per cent after hitting a peak of 15.8 per cent in June, according to data from Statistics Canada.

Information from Travel Alberta has tourism-based jobs in the province at about 68,000 and roughly 20,000 tourism-related businesses.

BLLHA’s campaign will have a combination of advertising and workplace materials that were designed to transcend language and cultural barriers. Some of the material was translated into six different languages to help further reach.

The work saw multiple partners come together, including Banff and Lake Louise Tourism, Shift Consulting Inc, the Town of Banff, Improvement District No. 9, Bow Valley Immigration Partnership, Settlement Services, Alberta Health Services and the Banff Mineral Springs Hospital among others.

The newly created website provides information for services that are available via phone, text, in-person or video chat.

“We’ve learned a lot when scoping this work and one thing that stood out was just how much the community cares,” Bogdane said.

“Businesses jumped to assist us however they could to ensure their workers were supported. This gives me confidence that things will turn around for those who’ve lost their shine. It’s a tight-knit and resilient community, so hopefully we can reach those who need it most.”

The workplace materials are only available in organizations based in Banff National Park.

People can visit www.workinbanff.com/support for more information.