ACTA’s new ITARP proposal aims to help independent agents; CWLB eligibility still in question

ACTA’s new ITARP proposal aims to help independent agents; CWLB eligibility still in question

TORONTO — ACTA has put together a new proposal that asks the federal government for financial aid and relief for independent agents.

Bill C-2, which was passed on Dec. 16, includes crucial financial supports for sectors including travel, with initiatives including the Tourism and Hospitality Program financial support program.

However Bill C-2 does not extend to independent workers. Over the holidays ACTA developed a new proposal for financial support for independent travel agents.

“ACTA’s top priority remains ensuring as much financial support as possible will be available for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents,” says Wendy Paradis, ACTA president.

Called the Independent Travel Agent Relief Program (ITARP), the proposal aims to level the playing field when it comes to financial support, for independent travel agents and other travel and tourism small businesses.

ITARP has been endorsed by all major ACTA host agency presidents as well as the grassroots advocacy organizations ACITA and Canadian Travel Agents for Change.

Paradis says the ITARP proposal is now in the hands of senior government officials, with a meeting with senior officials at the Ministry of Tourism scheduled for next week. Paradis says ACTA will continue working on this key priority and will stress the urgency of this financial support in all government meetings.

Meanwhile ACTA is also looking into whether or not the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB), also part of Bill C-2, will be of any use to the retail travel sector.

In an effort to widen qualification, the federal government recently declared all provinces and territories as an eligible region under the CWLB.

The CWLB gives $300 per week ($270 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period applied for.

Currently, benefits are eligible in most of Canada for Period 9 (Dec. 19 – 25) and Period 10 (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1).

Additional eligibility periods are expected, says ACTA, adding that it is advising all applicants, including furloughed travel agency employees and independent travel agents, to review the eligibility checklist to determine whether they are eligible.

Paradis adds that there is no penalty for mistaken applications; only a return of funds paid. However penalties apply for fraudulent applications.

“Despite outreach by ACTA, the federal government has so far not confirmed whether independent travel agents, as a specific industry, are eligible [for CWLB],” said Paradis. “Therefore, at this time, ACTA is unable to provide further guidance or interpretation, however we are pressing for clarity on this.”