The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has been lobbying all levels of government on behalf of the travel industry for some time now.
While ACTA’s efforts have been well reported at the federal level, the association has been actively engaged with provincial governments and regulators, too, seeking relief from the financial burden on travel agencies and travel agents.
Maximum rent subsidy needed for agencies
A revised program was announced by the federal government bypassing the landlord and helping tenants, which ACTA has been asking for.
However, rent regulations are under provincial jurisdiction and ACTA is asking provincial governments to recognize that travel agencies have been effectively shut down since March due to border closures, travel advisories and restrictions and 14-day quarantines.
Because of this, ACTA is asking that travel agencies have access to the full 90 per cent rent subsidy and that it be retroactive, as many landlords did not apply for the subsidy.
Here is an overview of ACTA’s lobbying activities in the regulated provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.
Ontario: Waive all 2021 TICO fees
ACTA made a written submission to the Ontario Fall 2020 Pre-Budget Consultations asking for the maximum rent subsidy - and also waive of all TICO mandatory consumer compensation fees and renewal fees for 2021.
These measures in additional to what the Ontario government introduced earlier this year will help Ontario Travel Agencies with their fixed expenses in a near zero revenue situation.
Quebec: Waive OPC fees, FTV claims, protect refund commissions
ACTA has been very active in Quebec lobbying the Office de la Protection de Consommateur (OPC), the Quebec Ministries of Justice and the Economy, and the Premier’s office on the following:
- Waive all OPC fees for 2020 and 2021 and formally allow the issuance of Future Travel Vouchers (FTV) and the coverage of FTV claims against the Quebec consumer compensation Fund, similar to the steps taken TICO in Ontario.
- The Quebec fund currently has $142M of which the maximum pay-out permitted is 60 per cent or approximately $85M. With over 35,000 refund requests from passengers totalling approximately $99M, customers would not be receiving the full value of their trip. While ACTA is recommending that the Quebec government change the legislated maximum pay-out permitted, ACTA’s urgent request is that should the Quebec government approve these consumer refunds, travel agency commissions must be protected.
ACTA has called upon the OPC and the Quebec government to look at further options to reduce the financial burden for travel agencies including:
- reducing the amount of the Bond and the length of time to five years
- replacing costly review engagements with a verification statement for Travel Agencies with gross sales under $2M which would align Quebec with TICO’s recent regulatory change. In addition to the recent change to working capital and financial reporting requirements in Ontario, security deposits can also be returned after two years.
British Columbia: Waive 20/21 fees, remove working capital minimum, reduce security deposit
ACTA has lobbied the BC Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Consumer Protection BC asking to:
- waive all Consumer Protection BC fees for 2020 and 2021
- remove the minimum working capital requirement and instead allow travel businesses to only require positive working capital
- reduce the security deposit by 75% on a temporary basis. This would free up capital for travel businesses who are still experiencing a 90-100% decline in revenue.
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