The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) is sounding the alarm in Ottawa for travel agencies who have been without financial support since October and could be facing bankruptcy if Bill C-2 is not passed before the holiday break.
“The recently added testing regime for travellers, along with new travel restrictions, have caused a lot of concern and confusion -- and customers are calling travel agencies looking for clarity asking what they will have to do, will they be covered by insurance -- and should they be travelling at all,” said Wendy Paradis, ACTA's president, in an urgent release sent Tuesday (Dec. 14).
She said that if Bill C-2 is not passed before the lengthy government holiday break, many travel agencies will not survive.
“We implore this government not to go on their holiday break without passing this bill. The government has brought in new travel restrictions and testing requirements that have dampened Canadians’ enthusiasm for travel and it is imperative that they support travel agencies through this,” she said. “This bill is the only lifeline open to travel agencies right now.”
Bill C-2, which introduces the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, is currently before the House of Commons.
It would provide up to 75 per cent wage and rent support to businesses with revenue losses of over 40 per cent. The Finance Committee is currently reviewing the bill.
“The last day the house sits is Friday, December 17, and they will not reconvene until January 31, 2022 so ACTA is urging all Members of Parliament to pass this bill before Friday,” Paradis said. “Travel agencies simply cannot wait until February at the earliest for assistance.”
As PAX reported earlier this week, both Bills C-2 and C-3 – which includes legislation that cracks down on the harassment of health-care workers – are currently before the Commons finance and human resources committees, but neither has set deadline for scrutinizing the bills and returning them for a final vote.
Two Senate committees have begun a pre-study of C-3, which should help expedite the Bill’s passage through the upper house. But a study has not yet begun on Bill C-2.
“The fate of Bill C-2 — which would create targeted support programs for sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and a new lockdown benefit for individuals thrown out of work due to the pandemic — seems particularly iffy,” the Canadian Press reported.
Travel agents: contact your MP today!
ACTA is joining the Coalition of Hardest-Hit Businesses in a call to action for travel agencies to write to their Members of Parliament today, urging them to pass Bill C-2 without delay
ACTA has also been intensely advocating for independent travel agents who would not receive support from Bill C-2. Self-employed independent travel agents make up 40 per cent of the travel industry in Canada.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland has said support for self-employed workers would be announced soon, but it is unknown whether independent travel agents will be eligible.
In support of this, ACTA has a separate letter writing campaign for independent travel agents, urging parliamentarians to pass legislation that includes support for independent travel agents.
"Grassroots advocacy is critical to success," ACTA said on Tuesday.
Members are urged to continue meeting with their MPs and sharing their stories.
In this phase of ACTA’s advocacy strategy, the association is hoping to get 1000s of letters sent using the templates provided to get the attention of MPs at this critical stage. "The more these letters are sent, the more likely we are to get," ACTA said.