The Travel Industry Council of Ontario’s (TICO) funding framework and fees review, and particularly its compensations fund, were points of contention at its Tuesday (Sept. 26) virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM).
During his annual report, TICO president and CEO Richard Smart confirmed that findings from funding review reports will be shared with stakeholders “very soon,” and will include a recent actuarial study of the compensation fund.
“I will say, in the funding review that’s been underway in the last year, the elephant in the room was, should there be a compensation fund?” he said during the AGM.
“We know countries like Australia abolished their fund, and other jurisdictions have one. It is a question that was asked.”
The changes TICO is proposing will be shared with registrants through a consultation process beginning next week and running throughout October and November, he said.
Smart also highlighted TICO’s transparency when asked about the council’s use of the compensation fund to support its operations.
“Before my time and since I’ve been the CEO of TICO, we’ve been very transparent with the board of directors around moneys that are being reimbursed from the compensation fund to assist with funding of operations,” he said.
“Our goal in this funding and fee review that’s underway right now is, once and for all, to fix that fundamental misalignment of fees. We acknowledge that those transfers have been taking place. It’s been well-known for a number of years, and it’s our goal to address that in the upcoming fee review, and when we’ll have more to say when we hold the consultation in October and November.”
He reiterated that he doesn’t consider TICO’s fees “exorbitant,” as one attendee described them.
“Our expenses have been flatlined over the last five years and there was one year, at the peak of the pandemic, where our expenses went down,” Smart said.
“Our actual operating expenses in the most recent completed year, fiscal 2022-23, were lower than the prior fiscal year. When you look back over 10 years, they’ve grown at an average rate of less than three per cent. I simply don’t accept that TICO’s fees have been exorbitant. Our board is very tough, as they should be, in ensuring any cost increases are understandable and supportable and reasonable, and all are within the budgets that are approved by the board and shared with the ministry, the minister and stakeholders.”
Smart noted that TICO has been operating in a near-zero revenue environment for the last three years and that, at $4.4 million, its operating expenses came in under budget and were lower than those in the previous fiscal year.
Work on TICO’s value-for-money audit is also nearly complete, and a public report is expected to be available before the end of the calendar year.
Technical difficulties meant voting for three new industry directors was postponed. TICO will share more details of how it will re-launch the voting process in the coming days.