Stepping Up The Fight For Independents

ACTA is stepping up its advocacy efforts, submitting a new relief proposal to the federal government focusing specifically on independent travel agents; and seeking further clarity on lockdown benefits for advisors.

The industry association points out that the new year has once again brought massive challenges for travel agencies and travel agents including a blanket Level 3 travel advisory that has resulted in cancellations and staff shortages throughout the industry as the result of Omicron as well as cancelled programs and flight schedule changes.

Wendy Paradis, ACTA president, made it clear that: “ACTA’s top priority remains ensuring as much financial support as possible will be available for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents.”

The industry association notes that since independent workers were not included in the Bill C-2 Financial Support legislation, over the holidays, ACTA developed a new proposal for financial support for independent travel agents.

The proposal — the Independent Travel Agent Relief Program (ITARP) — is a solution that aims to create equity between independent travel agents and other travel and tourism small businesses.

It has been endorsed by all major ACTA host agency presidents and the grassroots advocacy organizations ACITA and Canadian Travel Agents for Change.

The ITARP proposal is now in the hands of senior government officials and a meeting with senior officials at the Ministry of Tourism is scheduled for next week, and ACTA will continue working on this key priority and will stress the urgency of this financial support in all government meetings.

In response to the rapid spread of Omicron, the Government of Canada declared all provinces and territories as an eligible region under the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB).

The CWLB gives $300 per week ($270 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period applied for.

Currently, benefits are eligible in most of Canada for Period 9 (Dec. 19 to Dec. 25) and Period 10 (Dec. 26 to Jan. 1). Additional eligibility periods are expected.

ACTA is advising all applicants, including furloughed travel agency employees and independent travel agents, to carefully review the eligibility checklist to determine whether they are eligible.

Said Paradis: “Despite outreach by ACTA, the federal government has so far not confirmed whether independent travel agents, as a specific industry, are eligible. Therefore, at this time, ACTA is unable to provide further guidance or interpretation, however we are pressing for clarity on this.”

The industry association also noted that there is no penalty for mistaken applications; only a return of funds paid. Penalties apply for fraudulent applications.

ACTA will communicate any further information on this program on an urgent basis.

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