Govt. aid programs helpful but more assistance needed, says ACTA

ACTA urges members to tell MPs how COVID is impacting business

TORONTO — ACTA says it’s pleased that the federal government’s wage subsidy program will be extended to the end of the year but warns that there’s more work yet to be done as the industry heads into the fifth month of a virtual travel lockdown.

ACTA President Wendy Paradis says ACTA is continuing its advocacy work with the federal government on a number of fronts and needs the continued help of the industry to back up its position.

ACTA and its travel agency members had been lobbying for the CEWS wage subsidy extension.  Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced July 13 that CEWS would be extended into December.

However ACTA also wants the government to address the fact that independent travel agents are not eligible for Employment Insurance benefits. The CERB program (i.e. the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit) is of critical importance to this group of travel agents and there must be some form of ongoing sector specific aid.

“ACTA has continuously stressed to the government that the travel industry will be one of the last industries to recover and thus extensions are critical for our sector,” says Paradis.  “However, we are concerned about the CERB program expiring in August and a likely return to EI because EI in its present form is not available to independent travel agents.”

ACTA is also watching carefully for news of borders reopening. ACTA is part of the Canadian Travel & Tourism Roundtable, a coalition of 120+ travel industry executives and interests calling on the federal government to slowly but surely loosen travel restrictions, first within Canada and then beyond.

“Without the clear establishment of criteria, the uncertainty and prospect of booking travel remains a challenge for travel agencies. It has negatively impacted the consumer’s confidence in travel and has also contributed to ongoing demand for refunds.”

Paradis adds that some countries have started to open up and are accepting Canadians, yet reciprocal agreements have not been extended by Canada.

“We really need clarity on the criteria that will be used to modify or remove the travel advisory and border closures,” said Paradis. “Right now, the industry is somewhat paralyzed by these restrictions and while we understand that the health of Canadians is paramount, we need some indication of what the plan is from the federal government to ease restrictions.”

The industry can help by contacting their local MP either by email or phone, to underline the need for continued financial relief and the impact of COVID 19 on their business. ACTA has a letter template and telephone script available on its website.

ACTA is also asking the industry to participate in its social media campaign, sharing ACTA posts on LinkedIn and retweeting ACTA messages on Twitter.

When agents tell their own personal stories to MPs, of how the pandemic is impacting their business, it brings a reality to what is happening in their riding, says Paradis.

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