“We are a resilient industry and together we’ll weather this storm”: ACTA

TORONTO — ACTA is working nonstop on behalf of members during this unprecedented crisis, delivering the message to the federal government “that Canadian travel agencies and the entire travel industry require urgent financial support to sustain the industry and they need it NOW.

“The travel industry has been the most harshly affected by the travel advisories, which were issued just before the peak travel time of March Break without warning, causing hundreds of thousands of Canadians to change or cancel their plans, creating a massive amount of work for thousands of travel agents, tour operators, airlines and cruise lines. This is ongoing as there is a huge backlog as agents try to bring Canadians home and also cancel their upcoming trips,” says ACTA in a statement to members.

ACTA is lobbying various government ministries, seeking assistance and relief for travel businesses who were the first to be hit by the sweeping measures taken to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

ACTA will be hosting a live COVID-19 Update today, Thursday, March 19, including a presentation and discussion with an HR specialist to help travel agency owners and managers navigate their businesses and teams through this challenging period.

Registration for the webinar is available here: https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/6069573971186738699

The English update will be at 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

The French update will be at 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Here’s a look at what ACTA is doing:

. Along with other travel industry stakeholders, ACTA has been in daily contact with Frances McRaeAssistant Deputy Minister, Small Business and Marketplace Services Innovation, Science and Economic Development since the first COVID-19 travel advisories were issued starting on March 9.

. ACTA President, Wendy Paradis, has explained to government officials that travel agents have been working around the clock to service the needs of Canadian travellers who are trying to return to Canada. “Travel agents have also been flooded with requests to cancel and/or rebook passengers who were scheduled to depart for upcoming vacations. With no advance notice to the industry and no opportunity to get contingency plans in place, the back-to-back Canadian Global Affairs travel advisories have created chaos in the travel industry.”

. In addition, new bookings have dramatically declined and expenses have increased in order to service travelers in response to the travel advisories. “We have told the government that this situation is not sustainable.”

. ACTA’s Vice President of Advocacy and Industry Relations, Heather Craig- Peddie, has walked the government through, step by step, why the relief programs currently in place, such as the Work Share Program and the Business Development Bank of Canada financial aid programs are inadequate for this unprecedented crisis.

. “We have also made several recommendations on how the government could quickly support travel agencies and travel agents with employment programs and financial aid. ACTA is stressing to all levels of government that the travel industry must be a top priority when considering aid, and in the case of travel agencies, not only do our large member businesses who employ hundreds of employees need urgent consideration, but the need is also acute for the 90% of travel agencies who are made up of entrepreneurs running small businesses in almost every community across the country.”

. On March 13 a group of travel industry leaders, including ACTA, CATO, travel agencies, airlines, tour operators and technology companies came together for an urgent meeting to brainstorm how the industry can work together through this crisis and to support each other in lobbying governments for not only their own sector, but the travel industry as a whole.

. Since then ACTA’s President, Vice President of Advocacy and our Government Relations Consulting Organization has participated in many government meetings and conference calls to speak about the immediate need of our travel agency members. “It has been heartening to hear the other travel industry lobbying teams, not only lobby for their own sector, but confirm the acute need of travel agencies, tour operators, airlines, airports, hotels, ground transportation etc. We are a resilient industry and together we’ll weather this storm.”

ACTA has also issued a Member Advisory to update the trade on the federal government’s coronavirus economic support plan. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the plan yesterday, with new economic measures to protect the safety and jobs of all Canadians, particularly to help those affected by the impacts of COVID-19.

The plan will provide up to $27 billion in support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses:

Support for Businesses 

The Government of Canada is taking action to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Allow the deferral of the payment of any income tax that become owing on or after March 18, to after August 31, 2020;
  • Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses through a new Business
    Credit Availability Program that will provide more than $10B of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada;
  • Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses;
  • Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional
    support to Canadian businesses;
  • Provide flexibility on the Canada Account Limit; and
  • Launch an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage
    pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), to provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders.

Support for Workers

The government has also introduced measures that may help independent contractors:

  • Introduce an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This measure could provide up to $10B to Canadians and includes:
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness.
  •  Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
  • Introduce an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to provide $5B in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.

Applications for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility.

The National Bank of Canada, Royal Bank (RBC), the Bank of Montreal (BMO), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), and Toronto Dominion Bank (TD) have all committed to help their banking customers who are financially impacted by COVID-19, by being flexible and offering solutions.

ACTA says it continues to work with provincial and federal government stakeholders to advocate on behalf of our membership at this critical time.

“We have voiced the special circumstances of our industry and have provided critical employment and economic information about the Travel Agency network across Canada. We will continue to update you as the COVID-19 situation evolves.”


Get travel news right to your inbox!