Consultations on Bill 159, “Rebuilding Protection for Consumers Act,” presented a unique opportunity on Monday (Jan. 20) for the Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) to make its case for the need to reform, what it calls, the "inadequate TICO Consumer Compensation Fund," the association announced in a release issued Wednesday (Jan. 22).
In a clear statement to the government, CATO Chair Brett Walker presented a concise argument to a room of close to two dozen MPPs and Ministry officials who followed up with intense questioning of Walker.
As outlined in CATO's release, Walker made the following points:
- CATO’s position is that there can be no rebuilding of consumer confidence without a properly funded Compensation Fund which a Deloitte study called for a target of $40 to $60 million
- This requires a different funding model such as the consumer pay model in Quebec
- The results would produce complete consumer protection with no per person caps or event payout limits
- It would also provide ample funding for TICO
- A minimal fee would also provide greater awareness by consumers of the existence of a compensation fund and the protection afforded them by booking with an Ontario registered travel seller
- Funding reform would result in reduced costs and burden on the Ontario travel industry
- A robust fund would make Ontario registrants more competitive in a global and digital marketplace
Both government and opposition members used all of their allotted time with questions, which were focused principally on Quebec’s successful funding model.
The Quebec fund currently stands at some $150 million, CATO stated, which provides outstanding protection for Quebec consumers and substantial marketing advantages to Quebec travel businesses.
Given the health of their fund, Quebec has suspended contributions for now, CATO stated.
CATO, along with The Association Of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA), will be further pressing its case in a meeting with the Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services, the Hon. Lisa Thompson, on Tuesday, January 28th.