ACTA launches travel agency compensation and benefits survey

ACTA survey has data on travel agency uptake for financial assistance

TORONTO — A new survey from ACTA shows the level of uptake from the retail travel trade for the federal government’s financial assistance programs.

“We had anecdotal information that not all members qualified or were able to access financial relief from the government programs but we needed data to back up our claims in our lobbying efforts with the government,” said Wendy Paradis, President, ACTA. “This survey has given us what we need to go back and demonstrate where the gaps are.”

The survey highlights are as follows:

  • The 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – About 52% of respondents say they applied and 100% of those said they had been being approved and were already in receipt of funds or waiting receipt. ACTA says its survey indicates that 37% did not apply, with the primary reason being their ineligibility with no salaried employees.
  • Canada Emergency Business Application (CEBA) – 68% of respondents applied and 98% of the applicants received assistance from the program. About 28% did not apply as they did not meet the eligibility requirements for the program. Reasons cited by members included they did not meet the $20,000 payroll threshold or they were paid with dividends.
  • EDC/BDC Loans – Very few respondents in the ACTA survey say they applied for the EDC Loan Guarantee and BDC Co-Lending Term Loans at 3% and 7% respectively. Respondents that chose not to apply for these loans also claimed they did not qualify or they were reluctant to take on more debt that was not forgivable.
  • RDA Loans – The Regional Development Agency loans opened within the last two weeks, which could be reflective in the low application rate of respondents at 3%.
  • Tax Deferral Initiatives – To date, 51% of respondents claim to have or will be taking advantage of the GST/HST tax deferral. While not identified in the survey, some ACTA Members have reported to ACTA that they do not pay GST/HST as they have not yet made the $30,000 threshold to require a GST/HST number. This could explain why some respondents have not taken advantage of this initiative. With the Income Tax Deferral initiative, 34% have taken advantage and 66% have not, however this may be timing and not indicative of interest in doing so, says Paradis.
  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) – When asked whether the member has worked with their landlord to benefit from the program, 48% said they had had those discussions, with 62% of the respondents stating that their landlord was either not interested or uncertain.
  • Work-Sharing – The majority of respondents, 84%, did not apply for the work-sharing program. Many cited how cumbersome the process was and instead, opted for the wage subsidy program. The remaining either applied (9% with 89% of those respondents stating their applications were approved) or plan to apply (7%) when the wage subsidy program expires.

Paradis says that while ACTA is pleased that the Prime Minister recently announced the wage subsidy would be extended to the end of August, ACTA will continue to advocate for an extension of this program to year end for travel agencies.

ACTA is also pleased that the federal government expanded the CEBA program. The program will now capture sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll, says Paradis.

One of the expanded eligibility criteria includes the need for applicants to have non-deferrable expenses (rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance) between $40,000 and $1.5M. ACTA lobbied government for changes to the program, with the hope that the 28% that did not apply due to ineligibility and as highlighted in the survey results, can now access this program, she added.

Many ACTA members said that their landlord did not qualify for the rent relief program because they did not have a mortgage. According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), landlords with no mortgages are eligible to apply. Paradis says ACTA is encouraging members to speak to their landlords clarifying this eligibility criteria.

The CECRA program however, is not without its flaws, adds Paradis. Landlords are not interested in absorbing 25% of the rent. ACTA’s recommendation to the federal government, and working with the provincial and territorial governments, is to make the program available directly to the tenant, rather than rely on the willingness of the landlord.

ACTA is also continuing to “assertively advocate” for the extension of the Canadian Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) program for travel agents beyond 16 weeks, as this is one program ACTA says has benefited both travel agent employees and independent travel agents.

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