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TORONTO — The Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) is applauding the move by the federal NDP party to support the Liberal government over legislation to aid workers during the pandemic, specifically the CERB and the new Canada Recovery Benefit.
“We are pleased to see that a resolution has been reached by way of the support that the NDP Party has offered the Liberals’ Throne Speech,” says ACITA. “This means that the Canada Recovery Benefit will go ahead, and independent travel advisors, who have been some of the hardest hit in our industry, will be able to continue to receive support as travel slowly rebounds.”
ACITA got its start at the beginning of the summer. Says ACITA co-founder Judith Coates: “Our association was founded in June by myself, Brenda Slater and Nancy Wilson when it became apparent that independent travel advisors needed a strong voice to ensure that we would not slip through the cracks when it came to financial aid from the government.”
“Our membership of over 1,200 has been very active writing letters to their MPs and to key ministers, to inform them of the specific ways that independent travel advisors have been affected by the shutdown in travel due to COVID,” adds Coates.
Since June ACITA has also had personal Zoom meetings with over 40 MPs and federal ministers, “who have unequivocally expressed their support of independent travel advisors, once they have heard of the length of time it takes from when a booking is made, to when the travel advisors are paid their commissions.”
ACITA notes that agents have been working tirelessly on behalf of their clients over the past six months, since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, resulting in border closures and travel restrictions that have decimated the travel industry. For more than half a year agents have been handling cancellations, future travel credits, re-booking for 2021 and 2022, and assisting with insurance claims.
“We applaud the government for recognizing that independent travel advisors earn their revenue in a unique way, and would not normally be eligible for EI,” says ACITA.
The CERB news came after the minority Liberals, needing support to survive a confidence vote on the throne speech, agreed to a key NDP demand: that Canadians who have been left without jobs or fewer hours of work due to the pandemic will continue to receive $500 a week in benefits. That is the same as they have been receiving under the CERB, which ended Sept. 26. The government had originally proposed payments at $400 a week.
The CERB has been used by close to nine million Canadians to stay afloat during the pandemic. The government is now transitioning CERB recipients to a more robust, generous employment insurance regime.
For those who don’t qualify for EI, Bill C-2 will create a temporary new Canada Recovery Benefit as well as a sick leave benefit and another benefit for caregivers who are forced to stay home to care for a dependant who falls ill or is forced to self-isolate.
Applications for the recovery benefit are to open Oct. 11.
With file from The Canadian Press