TORONTO — An emergency session of parliament is scheduled for today, March 24, and ACTA President Wendy Paradis says now is the time for agents to make their voices heard as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and resulting travel restrictions severely impact the retail travel industry.
“NOW is the time for a grassroots campaign by the industry to reach out to the government and draw attention to the plight of the travel agency community,” said Paradis.
“We are asking all ACTA members and their teams to URGENTLY write to your Federal MP, to the COVID-19 Parliament Committee members, the Prime Minister and your Provincial MPP/MLA to raise additional awareness that travel agents have been hard hit by the moratorium on travel and asking for assistance for travel agencies and travel agents,” she added.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is convening the emergency session to vote on a number of emergency measures to bring relief to businesses and Canadians.
Paradis says agents can find ACTA’s suggested letter template on the homepage of ACTA’s website, which they can send to members of parliament, the Prime Minister and their Provincial MPP/MLA.
There are more than 24,000 travel agents and 14,000 large and small travel agency businesses in Canada. More than 90% of agencies are considered small businesses and 75% of travel agents are women. Not only that, but travel agencies generate over $30 billion in sales and $3 billion in revenue annually.
All of the above points are emphasized in the letter, says Paradis. “We are stressing to the government that relief for the travel industry must include travel agencies and travel agents.”
Here’s what ACTA is asking for …
. The letter asks for relief and financial assistance for businesses including low interest loans and grants, delayed payments for rent and leases, tax relief, reducing provincial regulatory burdens and suspension of charge backs on travel purchases.
. For travel agent employees and independent contractors, ACTA is asking the government to introduce Emergency Employment Insurance (EI) that waives waiting periods and increases the amount of the benefit from 55% to 75%; introduce Emergency support for the self-employed (independent contractors who make up 35% of the industry) who are not eligible for EI; and provide emergency financial supports that allow for immediate job share, versus unemployment.
. ACTA will also be launching a telephone campaign and asking agents and agency owners to call their MP. A script will be available shortly on the ACTA website.
“We know agents are stressed and busy but we are asking everyone to please take time to send these letters urgently. ACTA will need to continue to lobby for travel agencies over the coming days and months,” said Paradis.
For details, visit acta.ca and look for ‘Letter Writing Campaign’ on the home page to access step by step instructions including website links to finding and contacting Federal and Provincial Government representatives in each riding.