Canada “stuck at Stage Zero,” says National Airlines Council of Canada

Let’s hope it sets a precedent: Australia’s agents get funding

TORONTO — Australia’s travel agents are getting some good news today: financial support from the Australian government.

Australian travel trade sites including KarryOn are reporting that agents Down Under will be part of a AUS$128 million (about Cdn$122 million) support plan from the government, aimed at assisting up to 4,000 of the country’s travel agencies with annual sales coming in anywhere between $50,000 and $20 million.

The financial assistance will be in the form of one-time payments ranging from $1,500 to $100,000 depending on the size of the travel agency.

The news comes the day after Canada’s federal government offered up its Fall Economic Statement 2020, presented by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

As reported yesterday, Canada’s economic update did not include details about an airline bailout.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau had announced on Nov. 8 that the federal government was putting together a financial assistance package for Canada’s airlines, contingent on the airlines offering refunds to out-of-pocket travellers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Airfare refunds mean commission recalls, of great concern to travel agents. Travel agent groups including ACTA with its months and months of lobbying efforts, and ACITA with its grassroots appeals to MPs, have been working to get the plight of travel agents front and centre with the government.

Yesterday’s update from the Liberals did bring news of a loan program for industries that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, including tourism, hospitality, the travel industry and arts & culture.

Dubbed the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, the initiative will be “a credit availability program with 100% government-backed loan support and favourable terms,” said Freeland.

The low-interest loans will be available in amounts up to $1 million.

To support businesses big and small through the second wave, the federal government will be increasing the maximum rate of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to 75% for the period beginning Dec. 20, 2020 and extending this rate until March 13, 2021.

It is also extending the current rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support until March 13, 2021. Both programs will be there for businesses until June 2021, said Freeland.