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Calgary MP says Liberal government wasted millions on quarantine hotel stays


A Calgary-area MP is questioning why the federal government spent almost $7 million last year for a quarantine hotel in the city that only 15 people stayed at.

Michelle Rempel Garner has been a critic of the quarantine hotels since day one.

She now says the amount of money spent on them is wasteful – so wasteful heads should roll.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the federal government set up quarantine hotels in four Canadian cities with operating international airports.

In Calgary, it spent close to $27 million over the next two and a half years to use the Westin Calgary Airport hotel.

Through the last half of the fiscal year in 2020, it spent $8.9 million here and housed 119 travellers.

In the 2021-22 fiscal year that jumped to $11.13 million but so did the number of people – up to 1,356.

Then, last year up to October when the program ended, it spent $6.79 million but only housed 15 travellers.

"This is gross mismanagement and waste," Rempel Garner said.

Rempel Garner says when she saw the price paid in 2022 for using the hotel, which works out to just over $450,000 per traveller, she was stunned.

"Think about that amount of money. You know, (it) could be used, especially in Calgary, to buy a house." Rempel Garner said.

The Canadian Taxpayers Federation wants answers.

"People really are having a difficult time affording the necessities and then you hear just these examples of extreme waste coming from Ottawa, and I think that's going to hurt for many Canadians who are struggling," said Franco Terrazzano with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

When tracked down by CTV, the federal transportation minister said the government was facing an unprecedented crisis and placed a higher value on saving lives than on saving money.

"The public health measures that we put in place saved thousands of lives," Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra said.

"Of course, we have 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, Rempel Garner grilled the federal health minister.

"How many other hotels did this happen at? And has anybody been fired for this waste?" she asked during question period.

"Our primary responsibility has been and remains to protect the safety and the health of Canadians, including the tens of thousands of people who had to access the designated quarantine facilities," Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos said.

Not all this money actually went to the Westin hotel chain.

Some of it went to other businesses over the two and a half years.

Here in Calgary, the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires got $1.7 million.

The Red Cross, close to $1.5 million.

And Winmar, a cleaning company, received $1.14 million.

Aaron Paramedical and Fenton Bus Services also got small sums.

How much money was spent on quarantine hotels in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal is not yet known, nor how many people stayed at them. Top Stories

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