Multi-Level Lobbying: ACTA Targets Provincial Support for Trade

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Open Jaw has frequently reported the efforts of the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) to garner federal government support for travel agencies and advisors across the country.

But not all regulations and COVID-related relief fall under national jurisdiction.

ACTA recognizes that specific support at other levels of government is also needed to help travel agencies and advisors survive in this near-zero revenue scenario. The organization is now providing an update about its lobbying efforts at the provincial level - including requests specific to the regulated provinces of Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia.

All Provinces: Maximum rent subsidy for agencies

ACTA was successful in asking the federal government for a revised program bypassing the landlord and helping tenants. But as rent regulations are under provincial jurisdiction, ACTA is also lobbying provincial governments.

To give travel agencies access to the full 90% rent subsidy on a retroactive basis as many landlords did not apply for the subsidy.

In addition to the maximum rent subsidy in all provinces, ACTA is targeting regulations and relief specific to regulated provinces. 

Ontario: Waive all 2021 TICO fees

ACTA has made a written submission to the Ontario Fall 2020 Pre-Budget Consultations asking for the provincial government to waive all TICO mandatory consumer compensation fees and renewal fees for 2021 to help Ontario travel agencies reduce fixed expenses.

Quebec: Waive OPC fees, FTV claims, protect refund commissions

ACTA says it has been "very active" in Quebec lobbying the Office de la Protection de Consommateur (OPC), the Quebec Ministries of Justice and the Economy, and the Premier’s office for the following support and relief:

  • Waive all OPC fees for 2020 and 2021 and formally allow the issuance of Future Travel Vouchers (FTV) and the coverage of FTV claims against the Quebec consumer compensation Fund, similar to the steps taken TICO in Ontario.

  • Protect agency commissions. The Quebec fund currently has $142 million and there are 35,000 refund requests for passengers. The maximum pay-out permitted is 60%. That  leaves only $85 million to cover $99 million in requested refunds, meaning customers would not be refunded the full value of their trip.  ACTA recommends the Quebec government change the legislated maximum pay-out permitted. In addition, if the Quebec government approves these consumer refunds, ACTA is urgently requesting that travel agency commissions are protected.

  • Reduce the financial burden for travel agencies. ACTA has called on the OPC and the Quebec government to look at further actions including:

    • reducing the amount of the Bond and the length of time to five years; and

    • replacing costly review engagements with a verification statement for travel agencies with gross sales under $2 million. That would align Quebec with TICO’s recent regulatory change. In addition to the recent changes to working capital and financial reporting requirements in Ontario, security deposits can also be returned after two years.

British Columbia: Waive 20/21 fees, remove working capital minimum & security deposit

ACTA is lobbying the BC Premier, Minister of Public Safety and Consumer Protection BC to:

  • waive all Consumer Protection BC fees for 2020 and 2021;

  • remove the minimum working capital requirement and instead require travel businesses to only have positive working capital; and

  • reduce the security deposit by 75% on a temporary basis. This would free up capital for travel businesses. 
Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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