Transport Canada and the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA):
The Federal Government introduced Bill C-49, an Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and other Acts respecting transportation and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts, to the Senate in November 2017. On December 8th, the Bill was referred to the Standing Senate Committee on Transport and Communications. Within Bill C-49 is the ability for the drafting of a Passenger Bill of Rights. Last year, ACTA formed the ACTA Canadian Transportation Act (CTA) Committee which includes key board members, as well as travel agency leaders across Canada to respond to Bill C-49. ACTA’s overall goal is to advocate for a reasonable approach to a Passenger Bill of Rights that offers travelers quality service, and at the same time enables Canada to continue to build a healthy and sustainable travel industry. The Committee is currently conducting a jurisdictional scan including Passengers Bill of Rights in Europe and the USA, and identifying areas of agreement and/or concern with the legislation. The Committee is also researching possible recommendations from a travel agency and consumer perspective for the regulations to follow. On February 28, 2018, ACTA will be travelling to Ottawa to present to the Senate’s Standing Committee.
International Air Transport Association (IATA):
ACTA sits on IATA joint committees with equal representation between travel agency retailers and airlines. ACTA appoints retail members to sit on these committees including seven for the Agency Programme Joint Council (APJC). These members are senior representatives from leisure and corporate agencies across the country. The next APJC meeting will be held on March 21st at the IATA offices in Montreal. ACTA coordinated a pre-meeting meeting of the agency members to review agenda items to submit to IATA. Agenda items submitted included an update on PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance, NewGen ISS, the Local Financial Criteria, Privacy laws, Fraud, NDC and the possibility of 24-hour voiding in Canada.
Over the past few months, ACTA has leveraged our relationships with other organizations to move this national initiative. ACTA is working with the Travel Health Insurance Association (THiA) to work toward the goal of harmonization in the travel industry. At the same time, ACTA is also working with provincial insurance regulators, specifically the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC) to address issues within Alberta and nationally overall. The AIC recognizes the change in the industry landscape and the need for the sale of travel insurance to accommodate these changes. Several meetings between ACTA (and members of the Alberta Regional Council Insurance Sub-Committee for some meetings) and AIC have taken place with the most recent being January 30, 2018. According to AIC, the Alberta government will be looking to move to a single financial regulation similar to FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority) in Ontario. At this time, the AIC does not know the impact on the Council but an AIC Steering Committee will draft recommendations for the government and then stakeholder consultations would follow. Legislative change does not happen often in this industry so ACTA will be certain to stay very involved during this process. In the meantime, ACTA and AIC are planning to work together on educating members on how independent agents of a host agency can sell insurance more efficiently considering the legislative constraints in Alberta.
KEY REGIONAL ISSUES:
Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act and Bill 166
Last fall, Bill 166, the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017 (which included changes considered during the Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act, 2002), was introduced and passed First Reading. The Bill was then referred to the Standing Committee on Social Policy. On November 20, 2017, ACTA, represented by President Wendy Paradis, Vice President of Advocacy and Member Relations, Heather Craig-Peddie, and two Board members presented to the Standing Committee. With only 9 minutes to present, the clear message to the Standing Committee members was the gap in consumer protection in Bill 166, that being the need to have a consumer-funded Compensation Fund. The Bill did pass and received Royal Ascent on December 14, 2017. ACTA, however, is not giving up on lobbying the government to make the change to a consumer pay model. ACTA is aware that there could be another opportunity for proposed changes to be brought in under another Bill in late 2018. In the meantime, ACTA will remain actively involved as Bill 166 moves through the regulatory process. ACTA is also taking the opportunity to garner support and connect with Consumer Advocacy Groups to point out the gaps in consumer protection.
Taxes, Fees and Surcharges
The issue of Taxes, Fees and Surcharges has reoccurred over the years but has become top of mind of late and in particular the matter of the Fuel Surcharge. At the time the fuel surcharge was implemented, it was intended to be a temporary measure to address the sudden and dramatic rise in the price of fuel. In 2010, the Canadian government imposed advertising rules, which forced airlines to disclose the amounts of taxes and fees that are being charged. While the amount is now disclosed, it does not change the conversation that an agent has with their client and having to explain the fact that a fuel surcharge is being added. Today, the price of fuel has come down and stabilized yet the surcharge remains. In the December 7, 2017 edition of ACTAVision, http://acta.ca/news-releases/acta1207, an article on Airline Taxes and Fees was included and those airlines that eliminated this surcharge were commended.
Friends and Family Discounts by Suppliers
While not new, the practice of suppliers promoting a Friends and Family discount has raised great concern with ACTA regional council members. What may be different now is how social media is used without discretion to more than just “friends and family”. ACTA is collecting input from members across the country and once compiled, ACTA will be following up on these concerns with our suppliers partners.
Question? Contact Heather Craig-peddie at VP of Advocacy and Member Relations firstname.lastname@example.org