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e-3029 (Business and trade)

E-petition
Initiated by Judith Coates from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Minister of Transport

Whereas:
  • Canadian travel advisors render services to Airlines and Tour operators to benefit their mutual customers;
  • Airlines in Canada need funding to survive;
  • The Minister of Transport has announced that bailout agreements will be conditional on consumers receiving refunds for trips cancelled due to COVID-19, and Canadian travel advisors support consumer refunds;
  • Canadian travel advisors support the option of Consumer refunds;
  • Canadian travel agencies and advisors operate as small businesses and rely on commissions paid by Airline and Tour operators for services rendered, as their main source of revenue;
  • While occurring very rarely, the standing policy of Airlines and their Tour company subsidiaries in Canada has been, to date, to claw back commissions paid for services previously rendered by Travel Advisors, if the Client chooses to cancel;
  • Refunds to consumers are estimated by the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies to be $8 billion, which will translate to $200 Million in commission recalls; and
  • The travel advisor community has been working on behalf of their clients since mid-March, but with zero revenue. Many Travel advisors will personally be required to repay in excess of $10,000 in commissions for trips cancelled due to COVID-19, and will find this impossible, due to zero income since March, 2020, forcing many Travel agencies and Independent travel advisors into bankruptcy.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Transport to ensure that bailout subsidies and loans to Airlines will be conditional upon the protection of Travel advisor commissions paid for services rendered to Airlines and their subsidiary Tour companies.

Response by the Minister of Transport

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Omar Alghabra

The Government of Canada is working to support Canada’s air transportation network. Air transport has faced difficulty during the pandemic.  The government has encouraged Canadians to avoid non-essential international travel and has also implemented strong measures including travel restrictions and quarantine policies, in order to protect Canadians from COVID-19 and the spread of the virus.

Transport Canada’s objective is to ensure Canadians continue to have access to air services that connect them to other parts of Canada and the rest of the world, and obtain refunds for flights cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On November 8, 2020, the Government of Canada announced it would develop a package of assistance to Canadian airlines. This was further reiterated in the 2020 Fall Economic Statement, which also included details regarding support for airports. 

Strict conditions will be applied to any federal assistance to ensure that public policy objectives are met, including requiring air carriers to offer refunds to passengers whose tickets were cancelled due to the pandemic.

On December 21, 2020, a Ministerial Direction was issued to provide the Canadian Transportation Agency with the authority to develop a new regulation on the issue of refunds to passengers.  This new regulation will apply to future flights that are cancelled for reasons outside an air carrier’s control, such as a pandemic, and where it is not possible for the carrier to complete the passenger’s itinerary within a reasonable timeframe. The new regulation will also ensure that a similar situation does not occur again in the future.

Travel agencies and their agents play a vital role in the air travel system, both in terms of assisting Canadians wanting to explore the world beyond Canada’s borders and welcoming tourists to Canada, and by virtue of the latter, they also play an important part in supporting jobs and businesses dependent on tourism.

The approximately 24,000 travel agents across the country showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of women and small business in Canada. The Government recognizes the work undertaken by many to repatriate Canadians during the onset of the pandemic. The Government also understands the unique business model of travel agents, the impact of COVID-19, and the importance of commissions as a means of fair compensation for services rendered.

Currently, the Government is engaged in active discussions with air carriers and related conditions as they pertain to a sectorial recovery package. Transport Canada recognizes that travel agencies may be affected by these measures, and the Government will give close consideration to this situation as the department finalizes any potential financial assistance to air carriers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Open for signature
December 30, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
January 29, 2021, at 11:00 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge)
February 4, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00478)
Government response tabled
March 22, 2021
Photo - Marc Dalton
Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge
Conservative Caucus
British Columbia
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