Two steps forward, one step back: Comp Fund talks with gov’t continue

MISSISSAUGA — In her meeting last week with Minister Lisa Thompson, Government and Consumer Services, ACTA President Wendy Paradis said the Minister made the point that the government considers the consumer Compensation Fund to be a “very important tool for consumer protection”.

Paradis, in an update to ACTA members, says Thompson urged ACTA to continue to bring its recommendations for reform forward throughout the Travel Industry Act consultation process.

“ACTA pointed out that if the government indeed thinks the consumer Compensation Fund is very important, travel agencies are wondering why millions are being diverted from the consumer Compensation Fund each year to pay for TICO’s expanding operations?” says Paradis.

ACTA took the opportunity to stress the need for a consumer pay model and illustrated how the Quebec consumer-funded Compensation Fund model works, she added .

Next steps include a discussion between ACTA and the Ministry responsible for reducing regulations, the Ministry of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, set up by Minister Thompson’s team.

According to Paradis, Minister Thompson stressed the importance of continued advocacy at the upcoming industry consultations by the travel associations and members.

For most of 2019 and into 2020 ACTA has been conducting a lobbying campaign directed at the Ontario government, seeking relief from the financial burdens of Ontario’s Travel Industry Act and the Comp Fund.

ACTA spearheaded a letter writing campaign and as a result more than 75 letters were sent to the Minister and to MPPs, “and this has definitely had an impact and been very helpful in raising awareness,” says Paradis.

On Jan. 20 ACTA and CATO were among the groups speaking on the industry’s behalf as part of consultations on Bill 159: ‘Rebuilding Protection for Consumers Act’, in a meeting with government officials.

ACTA, CATO and TICO have long voiced their frustration at lack of action from years of talks with the government. “The industry has to wake up, otherwise nothing’s going to change until there’s a disaster,” says Richard Vanderlubbe, President of and a member of TICO’s board from 2001-2006 and again from 2009-2019.

In a December 2019 announcement, the Ontario government indicated that it does not intend to revise the current funding model for the Comp Fund.

Paradis says that just before Christmas, ACTA was notified by the Ministry of the outline of some items that the government does intend to change in the Regulations of the Ontario Travel Act.

“So far, we do not have a date for consultations on the proposed changes to the regulations, nor full details on the changes,” says Paradis in ACTA’s latest update.

“We expect the latter half of February is the likely timing and we will keep you updated as soon as we have more news. It will be imperative that as many members as possible get involved at that time.”

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