The Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) has submitted an independent travel agent relief proposal to the federal government while it continues to seek clarity on lockdown benefits for the trade.
The new proposal, called the “Independent Travel Agent Relief Program” (ITARP), is a solution that aims to create equity between independent travel agents and other travel and tourism small businesses, ACTA said in a news release on Thursday (Jan. 6).
It was developed over the holidays, ACTA said, “because independent workers were not included in the Bill C-2 Financial Support legislation.”
Endorsed by major players
ACTA said its proposal has been endorsed by all major ACTA host agency presidents and the grassroots advocacy organizations Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA) and Canadian Travel Agents for Change.
The ITARP proposal is “now in the hands of senior government officials,” ACTA said, and a meeting with senior officials at the Ministry of Tourism is scheduled next week.
“ACTA’s top priority remains ensuring as much financial support as possible will be available for travel agencies, travel agents and independent travel agents,” noted Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA.
Clarity sought on CWLB
In response to the rapid spread of Omicron, the Government of Canada declared all provinces and territories as an eligible region under the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB).
The CWLB gives $300 per week ($270 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period applied for.
Currently, benefits are eligible in most of Canada for Period 9 (Dec. 19 – 25) and Period 10 (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1). Additional eligibility periods are expected.
ACTA advises all applicants, including furloughed travel agency employees and independent travel agents, to carefully review the eligibility checklist to determine whether they are eligible.
“Despite outreach by ACTA, the federal government has so far not confirmed whether independent travel agents, as a specific industry, are eligible,” said Paradis. “Therefore, at this time, ACTA is unable to provide further guidance or interpretation, however we are pressing for clarity on this.”
ACTA notes how there is no penalty for mistaken applications (only a return of funds paid). But penalties apply for fraudulent applications.
ACTA said it will communicate any further information on this program "on an urgent basis."