Coronavirus: New fund established to support laid-off Montreal restaurant workers

A group of hospitality workers in Montreal has launched an initiative to provide emergency funds to the thousands in their industry who have been laid off amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Kaitlin Doucette was recently laid off from her job as the wine director at the Old Montreal-based Olive & Gourmando Restaurant Group. She told Global News Morning that shortly afterwards, she got the idea to create a fund for others like her.

“When I saw my restaurant close, there was a lot of people — my patrons and in the community — reaching out,” she said, asking how they could provide support.

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Doucette said she later heard about a fund offering relief to hospitality workers in New York City on Instagram.

It didn’t take long for the idea of a similar one in Montreal to take off. She says she and her co-founder are now working with “about 30 people on and off to best use everybody’s skills.”

The team has established a GoFundMe to raise money for what they’re calling the Montreal Restaurant Workers Relief Fund (MRWRF). As of Wednesday morning, the group has raised over $43,000.

“We’ve seen as little as $5 and had one donor who gave $10,000 in one fell swoop.”

Doucette said the fund will provide e-transfers to laid-off hospitality workers who sign up on a sliding scale, ranging from $50 to $150, based on their needs.

She said the experience has affirmed what she always knew about people working in the hospitality industry.

“I think a lot of hospitality people really have that generosity of spirit in them,” she said. “So it’s really great to have that solidarity in these moments of hardship.”

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