Following months of lobbying and daily interaction with the federal government, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) says that it welcomes the latest round of changes and updates to Ottawa's financial aid programs.
“We are pleased to see that some of our recommendations have been heard,” said Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA, in a statement.
However, despite Ottawa's latest efforts in providing financial aid to Canadians amid the COVID-19 pandemic, "...our work will continue as this falls short of what is needed to save the travel industry while travel restrictions remain in place," said Paradis.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
When the government extended CEWS to the end of the year, a sliding scale was implemented. The government now says that the rate will be 65 per cent up to Dec. 19, 2020.
At this time, the government has not provided any additional information on what the rates will be after Dec. 19 through to June 2021.
ACTA says it will continue to lobby for a minimum 85 per cent subsidy.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
ACTA says it is "very pleased the federal government has listened" and made the rent subsidy available directly to tenants, extending it to June 2021.
The CERS program will cover up to 65 per cent of rent or mortgage interest payments for businesses with a revenue decline of 70 per cent or more.
The government also announced a top-up to CERS of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
ACTA says it will continue to tell the government that travel agencies should also be eligible for the top up because, while they may not be subject to public health orders, they have literally been “shuttered” since March due to mandatory closed borders, travel advisories and 14-day quarantines, which currently remain in place.
ACTA has also asked that the program be made available retroactively.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The federal government is also expanding CEBA to enable businesses to access an interest-free loan of $20,000 in addition to the original $40,000 CEBA loan.
Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by Dec. 31, 2022.
The deadline for CEBA is being extended to Dec. 31, 2020
Regional Relief Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The government announced an additional $600 million to support businesses through the RRRF.
The Fund was established to be delivered through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDA). It is intended for small and medium-sized businesses.
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The new CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who have stopped working or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50 per cent due to COVID-19, and who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
The CRA is providing a simple application process for the CRB through its My Account portal, that opened Oct. 12, 2020, and includes new features:
- shorter eligibility periods of two weeks
- retroactive periods, meaning that people will be required to apply after the two-week period has ended;
- a 10 per cent tax withholding at source
- a three-to-five-day window to receive direct deposit, and a 10 to 12-day window for cheque by mail.
Don't miss a single travel story: subscribe to PAX today!