Canadian Transportation Agency:
Since the final report on the Review of the Canadian Transportation Act was published a year ago, the Minister of Transport announced the introduction of an air travelers’ passenger rights regime as well as the federal government’s plans to raise the cap on foreign ownership of Canadian airlines. Both of these points were explained within our submission, which is available in the Member’s Only section of the website. The other point clearly identified was the need for government to cut various fees, charges and taxes. Both Air Canada and WestJet have spoken out about this issue in mainstream media following U.S. President Trump’s promise to lower the corporate tax burden of U.S. airlines. These fees including the exorbitant rent charged to Canadian airport ultimately are passed on to the carrier and to the consumer resulting in higher fares and the increase in cross border traffic. ACTA will continue to reach out to the federal government to advocate for lower air transportation taxes and fees on behalf of ACTA Members and your clients.
International Air Transport Association (IATA):
ACTA sits on IATA joint committees with equal representation between retailers and airlines. At the start of the year, ACTA filled three additional retail positions that opened up. The retail members of the Agency Programme Joint Council (APJC) are: Liz Fleming, General Manager from North South Travel, Sam Patel, Director from Airnets, Nadia Giudice, Vice President Independent Contractors Management and Development from Vision Travel, Michael Kulbak, Senior Director of Finance from Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Michelle Drover, Director of Finance from Worldview Travel, Dianne Jackson, Director Travel and Retail Products from CAA SCO, Gordon Miller, Owner of Uniglobe Premiere Travel and Rocky Racco, CEO of TTI Travel.
ACTA is working through the Financial Advisory Group (a joint agency/airline sub-committee), to conduct a thorough review of the Local Financial Criteria. Considerations will be made for alternative options to the requirement of submitting costly annual Review Engagements as requested by members.
IATA implemented an effective date of June 1, 2017 for IATA appointed agencies to be Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standards (DSS) compliant. ACTA voiced our concerns to IATA on several occasions both directly as well as through our global partnership with the World Travel Agents Associations Alliance (WTAAA) that this deadline is unrealistic and warrants an immediate extension of the deadline as well as the provision of additional, clear information. At the March 22, 2017 Canada APJC meeting, IATA acknowledged the global outcry and stated that an extension to March 18 was granted.
A reminder that ACTA contributed to the Canadian Council of Insurance Regulators (CCIR) recent review of any existing misalignment between consumer’s expectations and industry practices. All ACTA provincial council members were solicited for feedback and our submission is available in the Member’s Only section of the website. The CCIR is expected to have a position paper approved this Spring 2017.
ACTA and the ACTA TIA Committee is fully involved in the Ontario government’s Review of the Ontario Travel Industry Act (TIA) as Phase 2 comes to a close. ACTA is working closely with the Canadian Corporate Travel Association (CCTA) throughout this Phase of the Review and it was decided that both ACTA and the CCTA would provide the Ontario Government with submissions by the deadline of April 14, 2017.
While there has not been any additional movement from the Ontario government on their Review underway of the Ontario’s Employment Standards Act (ACTA’s submission is available in the Member’s Only section of the website), ACTA is taking a pro-active approach to prepare our members on the “ins and outs” when working with independent contractors. This is a main concern within this Review whereby the government is considering moving “dependent contractors” into the definition of employee. The government believes there is a mis-classification of employees and they are reviewing options to correct. A webinar, led by Tim Law from the law firm of Heifetz, Crozier, Law has been scheduled for May 24, 2017.
In 2016, ACTA delivered a presentation to Consumer Protection BC (CPBC) bringing them up to date on some of the changes and challenges our members face in the retail travel space. ACTA members expressed concern over CPBC’s media campaign and the fact that the messaging did not support the benefits of booking with a BC licensed agency. The ACTA BC Regional Council has invited the Director of Stakeholder Relations from Consumer Protection BC (CPBC) to attend the next Council meeting scheduled for April 19, 2017. Establishing opportunities for our members to connect with CPBC, and provide CPBC with direct Member feedback on initiatives (such as the media campaign) prior to final release will be on the agenda.
ACTA contributes as a key stakeholder to the Office de la protection du consummateur (OPC) Advisory Committee for travel agencies. ACTA met with OPC in February where two key matters were discussed: 1) Since the implementation of the agent OPC certification (the “CCV”) and the removal of entry requirements, there has been a significant increase in the number of CCV holders from approximately 6,000 to 11,000, and 2) the interest from the QC retail travel industry to allocate funds from the QC Compensation Fund (the “FICAV”) for a consumer awareness campaign. Understanding that not all issues fall under the mandate of the OPC, ACTA and ATOQ (the tour operator association in Québec) met in late February to discuss supplier relationship issues including, in general, commission levels, NCF’s or non-commissionable fares and supplier direct marketing to consumers. Fraud was also a key discussion point and how agencies and tour operators can work together to fight fraud and protect the industry and consumers.
AB/SK/MB/Atlantic (unregulated provinces):
ACTA and members of the Alberta Regional Council Insurance Sub-Committee met with the CEO of the Alberta Insurance Council (AIC) again in January 2017. The AIC recognized the changes in the current travel industry landscape and the need for the sale of travel insurance to accommodate these changes. AIC will work with ACTA in this regard but next steps were left with AIC to speak to other industry stakeholders to determine if this is a national, multi-provincial or an Alberta approach.
In Saskatchewan, ACTA is monitoring the failure of a non-member agency and the government’s interest in an sector specific Consumer Protection Program and in Manitoba, the current government advised ACTA that the decision was made to not proceed with legislative or regulatory changes as it pertains to proposed travel industry rules.
In the Atlantic Provinces, the Greater Moncton Romeo LeBlanc International Airport reached out to ACTA to put forth a candidate to sit on their Consultative and Noise Committees. Members are representative of the community and include persons representing the interests of consumers, travelling public, aviation industry representatives and provincial and municipal government representatives. ACTA Atlantic was pleased to submit the name of Claude Bourgeois, CTM. ACTA sits on a similar committee at the Greater Toronto Airport Authority.