ACTA, CATO Take ‘Unprecedented’ Step, Withdraw Appointees From TICO Board

Until they’re given the opportunity to meet with Ontario Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Kaleed Rasheed, ACTA and CATO are withdrawing their appointees from the Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s Board of Directors.

Along with the meeting with Minister Rasheed, ACTA and CATO are also asking for a copy of TICO’s recommendations to the Ontario government on future fees and Compensation Fund funding.

The ‘unprecedented’ step by the two associations comes as the TICO Board of Directors is expected today (July 25, 2023) to give the final approval on TICO’s recommendations to the Ontario government on TICO’s future fee structure and Compensation Fund funding, which will be sent to the Minister for his review.

Jean Hébert, CATO Executive Director, said: “Our Associations want to provide all information before the Minister makes a decision. We believe a long-time request for a better consumer protection system in Ontario and a consideration of the financial burden put on an industry, which hasn’t recovered yet from the pandemic, has, once again, been ignored. We want to be included in Ontario’s ‘Open for Business’ plan.”

ACTA president, Wendy Paradis pointed out that: “ACTA and CATO have been denied details on the fee mechanism despite a decade of advocating for change. Both ACTA and CATO have appointees on the TICO board and yet, have been excluded from this information despite numerous requests. “

Said Hébert: “Once approved by the TICO Board, the Minister will have 45 days to react without having heard the concerns from industry. The two associations want to make their position known to the Minister given that the industry has once again been denied a legislated consumer contribution ‘insurance’ protection system in Ontario, comparable to the one that is so appreciated in Québec.”

And he added: “In our experience, while consultations are expected after the Ministerial review, if all the necessary documentation is not contained in the report, it is difficult for recommendations to change.”

As previously reported by Press Today, ACTA and CATO had outlined their frustration with the lack of transparency on the financial impact on TICO registrants.

Paradis said that: “Our joint action sends a clear message to government that we oppose this process. We also want to emphasize what ACTA and CATO have long been calling for – a regulator that should be the ‘right size’ to match the industry it is regulating, not one that is considering an increased financial burden on its Registrants — especially when it is those same Registrants that were the hardest hit businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

CATO’s Hébert said: “We believe that it is important that our Associations stand up for not only the travel industry but also for the public interest and take a strong stand for a better Ontario Compensation Fund funding model. For all those reasons, we do NOT want to put our appointees in a situation that raises a fundamental conflict of interest.”

ACTA and CATO have sent a joint letter to Minister Rasheed requesting an urgent meeting to stress that important changes must be made to the process, and for a better, fairer funding system.

TICO Responds

In a statement, TICO CEO, Richard Smart said: “TICO is governed by its Board of Directors and the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery. Further details regarding industry appointments to TICO’s Board of Directors will be disclosed in due course. TICO remains steadfast in its commitment to consumer protection and will continue to actively engage with all stakeholders.”

The TICO CEO’s statement continued: “Throughout the funding review, which launched in September 2022, we have placed great emphasis on conducting a thorough and inclusive consultative process, actively seeking input from Ontario consumers, registrants, and industry stakeholders, a practice we will continue.”

It said that TICO’s approach “hinges on striking a delicate balance between the interests of Ontario consumers and the industry, while also thoughtfully considering the real-world implications of any recommendations in the broader economic and political context.”

In June, TICO had indicated that it “must follow a set process prior to releasing any recommendations publicly. A comprehensive industry consultation is expected to launch this fall.”