TORONTO — ACTA is calling on the federal government to reconsider the mandatory pre-arrival PCR test requirement now in effect, one that does not remove or reduce the 14-day quarantine.
“A far better solution for Canadians and the industry would be to test on arrival,” says ACTA President Wendy Paradis.
The new PCR test rule, effective today, Jan. 7, was announced in the last days of December, with just a week’s notice.
The PCR rule is the latest blow after an extremely difficult 10 months for the industry.
“This latest development has put travel agents in an even more precarious situation and ACTA cannot stress enough the acute need for urgent financial support for travel agents and the entire travel industry including airlines, airports, tour operators and travel agencies,” said Paradis.
Paradis notes that ACTA has been advocating to the government for months to work with industry to develop a well thought out, science-based program for rapid testing that would keep Canadians safe and reduce the 14-day quarantine.
“We had seen some progress with the pilot projects taking place across the country in late 2020 with testing in Canadian airports and today it was rolled out in Toronto, but on a voluntary basis and it does not at this time replace the new testing requirement in destination, which we believe would be a far better solution,” she said.
The testing project at Pearson, announced Jan. 6 by Ontario Premier Doug Ford, is free and voluntary, however at least in this initial phase it does not allow travellers to reduce or eliminate the 14-day quarantine. The testing project at Calgary International Airport does offer the opportunity to reduce quarantine time.
Paradis adds that the extremely tight deadline to ensure that airlines have processes in place and for travel agents to notify clients already in transit about the new requirements are unrealistic and have created chaos for travellers and the industry.
“This new requirement is yet another blow to travel agents who are seeing any possible bookings from clients evaporate as they express concern and cancel,” says Paradis.
She adds that ACTA is working directly with senior government directors and policy advisors on these critical issues and will need ongoing support in 2021 from all travel agencies, independent travel advisors and travel agents. More information about renewing memberships or joining ACTA can be found here.
On the heels of all of its advocacy work in 2020 amid the pandemic, ACTA’s 2021 advocacy agenda includes:
- Finding better alternatives to testing and 14-day quarantines
- Commission recall costs to be covered in any airline aid package
- Liquidity assistance – new HASCAP loan program that still has not launched
- Extension of the CRB for independent travel agents to the end of June 2021
- Extension of the 75% wage subsidy to minimum June 30, 2021
- Inclusion of the 25% top-up benefit in the rent subsidy program