CATO says tour operators need CEWS extension

TORONTO — CATO is calling on the federal government to extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program until at least March 31, 2021, saying that without an extension, many thousands of jobs will be lost.

A statement from CATO notes that “even after any restart, it will take months to realize any revenue from advance payments and could be years before the industry achieves any sustainable level.”

CATO says its members have prepared a position statement focusing on two issues – the call to extend CEWS, and the need for more clarity from the federal government on when travel restrictions may be loosened.

CATO is mounting a letter-writing campaign to various Ministers and Members of Parliament with these two issues in mind.

In a 9-point list CATO outlines why tour operators in particular need CEWS extended. CATO notes that tour operators “were the very first to be impacted by Covid 19, and will be the very last to restart their businesses to any acceptable degree.” There’s currently no timeline for real recovery, on top of challenges for travellers looking to get out-of-country health insurance coverage for COVID-19.

CATO also notes that “with or without effective vaccines, any increase in travel will be exceedingly slow” and that revenues produced by these limited travel experiences “will be insufficient to cover the added costs incurred for a very long time.”

Other points deal with long lead times between bookings and travel dates, Cash flow restrictions from trust accounting requirements and more, and fixed costs continuing unabated.

CATO ends the list by saying: “Without government support, the extended wait for any recovery will be the ultimate blow to many operators and thousands of jobs.”

Other travel industry organizations, notably ACTA, have also called on the federal government to extend CEWS.

CEWS has already been extended beyond its original stop dates and is currently set to expire Dec. 19, 2020. Another program, CERB, will transition to a revamped EI this fall.

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