While ACTA is welcoming the CRB and EI program extension, the association’s primary concern and main focus of its lobbying and advocacy efforts is the solvency of travel agencies and travel agents.
Earlier this month, the federal government announced that it was extending the CRB program for another 12 weeks and the EI program by an additional 24 weeks – both, ACTA says, will greatly help independent travel agents, but it also noted that while the CRB extension only requires a regulatory change, the EI extension requires a legislative change, which means it is a slightly more complex process.
ACTA president, Wendy Paradis said that: “The many new restrictions and requirements introduced by the federal government have further delayed the recovery for the industry — and effectively shut down travel for now.”
Said Paradis: “Our message to the government is plain and simple, our industry needs financial support now and well into the future.”
The association’s president said that ACTA has brought up the need for an extension to the CRB in every single government meeting this year, even if that was not the topic of discussion.
“We have been lobbying extensively for this knowing it was the next significant aid program to expire” she said. “We are aware that for many independent travel agents, this is their only source of income right now.”
Paradis said the extension falls short of what is needed for the sector, pointing out that: “In light of all of the travel restrictions currently in place and the lag time for recovery once restrictions are eased, ACTA will continue to actively advocate on behalf of Independent Travel Agents that the CRB continue until September 30, 2021 or until 90 days after travel restrictions have been eased.”
ACTA is also advocating that the government make as many financial support programs available to as many travel agencies and independent travel agents as possible.
Said Paradis: “Too many travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents are coming up against a lot of red tape and roadblocks. The financial situation for our industry is dire and our industry should be eligible for all aid programs at the highest levels.”
And she added: “We need extensions to all programs well into the fall of 2021 or beyond.”
The association has also finalized its 2021 Tourism and Travel Industry Recovery Plan and submitted it to the federal government as part of the budget planning process.
Last week, ACTA’s submission was sent to the key ministries the association works. In preparing the submission, ACTA worked in close collaboration with the Hardest Hit Coalition to ensure that the industry is aligned with the other hardest hit industries in its submission, for maximum impact.
However, Paradis points out that ACTA’s submission “was customized for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents.”
The submission is a 7-point plan for travel agency and travel agent support and recovery featuring the following 7 priorities:
- Extension of the Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB) and Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits Programs
- Aid to cover commission recall
- Increase and extension to Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- Amendments to and extension of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
- Ensure HASCAP and other support programs such as the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) and the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan programs, work for all “hardest hit” businesses including home-based, independent travel agent businesses
- Work with industry to develop clear criteria for re-opening borders and easing travel restrictions, through rapid testing and establish vaccine documentation options to reduce or eliminate the 14-day quarantine
- Incentivize travel through tax credits and promote travel agents
To review ACTA’s plan, go to http://acta.ca/Media/Default/downloadable%20media/ACTA-Tourism-and-Travel-Industry-Recovery-Plan-EN.pdf