TORONTO — New additional economic measures announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last Friday as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan are helpful but the needs of the travel industry will surpass those of many other industries, says ACTA President Wendy Paradis.
“The new measures announced last Friday are aligned with ACTA’s feedback to the government. However, we have also made it clear to our government contacts that we expect that the travel industry will have a longer recovery and experience some unique issues compared to most other industries. Special programs and consideration will be required to support travel agencies and travel agents,” says Paradis.
Trudeau’s March 27 announcement is part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which already commits $107 billion in support to Canadians so they can buy groceries, pay rent, and care for their loved ones, and also supports businesses through the crisis.
NEW ADDITIONAL MEASURES FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT
- A 75% wage subsidy for qualifying small to medium-size businesses (SMEs), for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
- This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. Paradis says ACTA actively lobbied for a 75% wage subsidy, knowing that the previously announced 10% was insufficient.
- Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June. “It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country,” says Paradis.
- Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses, in the form of lines of credit of up to $40,000 to businesses with payrolls of less than $1 million. A quarter of this loan (up to $10,000) is eligible for complete forgiveness.
- Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
ACTA will continue to lobby for longer term support for travel sector, says Paradis. ACTA will continue to meet with government on a daily basis and lobby for longer-term financial aid for travel agencies and travel agents “given the uniqueness of our industry,” says Paradis.
She notes that Trudeau has said that he understands that some sectors have been disproportionally impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to carefully monitor all developments, and take further action in the near term.
Paradis adds: “What we have been advised so far is that employees can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund (ERF) and then apply for EI when the ERF expires. Independent Travel Agents can apply for the Emergency Relief Fund. We have further been advised that the 16-week period will be re-assessed as the longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unfolds. ACTA has made it clear to the government that 16 weeks will not be enough for Independent Travel Agents due to the uniqueness of the impact of the pandemic on the travel industry.”