ACTA is continuing to advocate for agencies, agents and independent contractors with the three provincial governments that regulate the travel industry – Ontario, Quebec and B.C.
As a result of those efforts, the association says there have been several wins lately.
In Quebec, the government has announced new adjustments to the assistance measures put in place to support Small and Medium businesses (SMEs) in the province.
Travel agencies are among the new SMEs to become eligible – previously, only inbound travel agencies were eligible.
As a result, nearly 600 Quebec travel agencies will now be able to take advantage of the Tourism component of the PACTE.
ACTA had been urging the Quebec government to assist the industry with a one-time payment of $7,000 for each retail travel business as it has been paying other Quebec businesses that amount as compensation.
The association indicated that it will continue to advocate for this and other types of assistance in Quebec for Travel agencies.
As well, ACTA is continuing to lobby both the Office de la Protection de Consommateur (OPC), the Quebec Ministries of Justice and the Economy and the Premier’s office, asking for a waiver of all OPC fees for 2020 and 2021 and formally allowing the issuance of Future Travel Vouchers (FTV) and the coverage of FTV claims against the Quebec consumer compensation Fund.
ACTA has also called upon the OPC and the Quebec government to look at other options to including:
- Reducing the amount of the Bond and the length of time to 5 years.
- Replacing costly review engagements with a verification statement for Travel agencies with gross sales under $2M which would align Quebec with TICO.
In Ontario, ACTA is welcoming measures announced by TICO at the beginning of December, reducing the burden on travel agencies by amending the General Regulation under the Travel Industry Act, 2002 (TIA).
The Ontario regulatory changes include:
- Two-year exemption on filing annual financial statements accompanied by a review engagement report or audit opinion.
- Extending the temporary provisions for registrants who acquire the rights to travel services for resale to choose to provide a voucher (March 31, 2022), and customers eligibility for reimbursement from the Fund for unredeemed vouchers or similar documents (March 31, 2024).
- Eliminating the requirement for a registrant to repay commissions and other remuneration received to the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).
For more on the TICO changes, go to www.ontario.ca/laws/regulation/r20675.
In BC, however, ACTA reports that it has had no response to letters sent in August to the Minister of Public Safety, the Solicitor General, the Premier, the President and CEO of Consumer Protection BC and the Manager, Industry Relations at Consumer Protection BC.
In those letters, ACTA requests:
- The waiver of all Consumer Protection BC fees for 2020 AND 2021.
- Consider removing the minimum Working Capital requirement and instead allow travel businesses to only require positive Working Capital and
- 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.
ACTA notes, however, that Consumer Protection BC has advised BC Travel agencies that it is deferring a full review due this year and is also deferring the annual increases in fees. This means that all 2021 licensing and other fees for the travel sector will stay at 2020 rates.