Time to fix the problem once and for all: CATO says

The Canadian Association of Tour Operators (CATO) says that the Ontario government needs to respond quickly to the findings of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario’s (OAGO) value-for-money audit of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO) based on the OAGO’s “level of concerns about consumer protection.”

In a statement, CATO says that while “we need to be realistic about the next steps,” it also makes it crystal clear that it will continue to advocate for “a more effective traveller protection system. if it is confirmed there is still a need for it.”

But the association also makes clear, that it will also continue to advocate for the end of “additional administrative and financial burdens” being placed “on the shoulders of the travel businesses in Ontario.”

CATO pointed out that the OAGO’s report found that “the cost to administer the Compensation Fund may outweigh the benefits it provides consumers,” although, in its response, TICO argued that “the Compensation Fund is at the foundation” of its “consumer protection framework.”

Reacting to that finding, CATO made it clear that going forward, the Compensation Fund must be “fully funded by the travellers” and perhaps “administered independently from TICO,” before adding that “without those improvements, there is currently no value, and we will support its abolishment.”

On other recommendations in the OAGO’s report that provided guidelines to both the Ministry of Public and Business Services Delivery (MPBSD) and TICO to improve efficiencies in TICO’s processes and for the ministry to exercise more control over TICO, CATO raised concerns about the cost of implementing these additional measures and the burden they could well place on travel companies operating in the province.

“Of all recommendations contained in the report,” CATO says in its statement, “we fully support Recommendation 16 for a more comprehensive review of the Travel Industry Act (TIA).”

CATO points out that following the Dec. 7 release of the OAGO’s report, it is now the “responsibility of the Ontario government to make the right decision that will address the real issues at once — and once and for all.”

For more, go to https://auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/ar