ACTA's update on FICAV's new regulations
Dear ACTA Members,
Quebec’s Office de la protection du consommateur has provided ACTA, explanations of the new Regulations to the Travel Agents Act in Quebec that came into effect on August 1, 2018. ACTA has been an active contributor in the drafting of the proposed regulations through our participation in an OPC Advisory Committee. ACTA is pleased to see many of our recommendations realized in these new Regulations, while recognizing that there are some sections in the Act that ACTA will continue to lobby the OPC for change.
Success highlights include:
- Interim Financial Statements – Travel agencies no longer have to produce and submit to the OPC interim financial statements unless required upon request. Agencies are still required to maintain trust accounting and a default insurance policy or bond but need only to show proof of this upon registration. ACTA is aware of the high cost of preparing financial statements such as a Review Engagement or Audit, so this change in the Regulations can result in thousands of dollars in savings for the agency.
- Travel agency bond – Travel agencies can now provide a bond electronically which is more efficient and saves the agency in time and money from filing manually.
- Travel Counsellor or Manager Certificates – While Travel Counsellors and Managers are required to renew their certificate every year, if they are not affiliated with an agency for two years, they must re-write the exam. The allowance of two years is a reduction from the previous five years. ACTA believes in a professional industry and lowering the term from 5 to 2 years can help to ensure the level of professionalism is maintained.
- Compensation Fund changes – Changes to the Compensation Fund benefit the customers of Travel Agents:
- customers no longer have to pay the fee of $1/$1000 of sales if the Fund is above the amount of $75M (this regulation comes into force January 1, 2019),
- customers no longer have to wait six months to obtain a refund, and
- the total that can be paid to the customer affected by the same event is increased.
While the Travel Agency will no longer be collecting the Compensation Fund fee as of January 1, 2019, the Travel Agency must still report the contributions (what the charge would be and then the same amount as a credit with a balance being $0, again, if the Fund has not slipped below the threshold of $75M as of March 31st) and therefore this change is not seen as a benefit for the agency as it does not reduce the amount of work for the travel agency.
Highlights of areas for improvements (and where ACTA will continue to lobby):
- Penalty fees – Travel agencies must pay their permit fees at the latest two months before the expiry of the permit or incur a penalty fee of 50% of the cost of the permit.
- Given the amount of funds in the FICAV, ACTA is lobbying the OPC to have the travel agency permit fee waived.
- Record keeping of travel counsellors – While a travel agency is required to keep up-to-date lists of their travel counsellors (employed or contracted), the expiry date of the counsellor’s certificate must also be included. A travel agency must inform the OPC within five days of the end of employment or contract of a travel counsellor. ACTA understands that this is problematic as currently the agency owner/manager cannot make this change online, although the OPC claims that the travel agent (owner/manager) can use the online Permit Management service to make the change. ACTA will follow-up with OPC and advise the membership on the status of this issue. In the meantime, the owner/manager must contact the OPC by phone.
ACTA will continue to keep you posted on any updates to the Regulations.
To read the full article from OPC, click here