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e-3643 (Business and trade)

Initiated by Judith Coates from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • More than 12,000 independent travel advisors in Canada have been without income for 19 months due to government imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions;
  • These small business owners are sole proprietors and are among the hardest hit in the travel sector;
  • Federal assistance programs, like CEBA, CERS, CEWS and RRRF, exclude the majority of these small business owners, leaving them to slip through the cracks, and forcing them into massive debt and bankruptcy; and
  • Independent travel advisors will not see revenue in their businesses until 5-11 months after the lifting of travel advisories and cruising advisories.
We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to:
1. Provide sector-specific funding for independent travel advisors in the form of bridge financing until May 2022, at the very minimum, until they are able to see recovery in their businesses; and
2. Ensure that independent travel advisors are included in the class of eligible applicants for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program announced by the government on October 21, 2021.

Response by the Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable THE HON. RANDY BOISSONNAULT

The tourism sector has been among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Revenues declined 49.7%  from $104.4B in 2019 to $52.5B in 2020, and jobs directly attributable to tourism decreased 41%  from 692,000 to 409,000 in the same period. Employment declines in hospitality were a significant contributor to the tourism sector’s overall employment reduction in 2020, with food and beverage services employment down 32.3%  and accommodation down 35.2% . 

The Government of Canada has provided broad-based liquidity measures to support the tourism sector through the pandemic. The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program provided nearly $200 million in liquidity to businesses in Canada’s recreation,  entertainment and travel services industries, as of September 30, 2021.

The Government of Canada introduced a series of measures to further assist in the tourism sector’s recovery in Budget 2021. These measures, totalling $1B over three years, starting in 2021-2022, include a $500M Tourism Relief Fund to support investments by local tourism businesses in adapting their products and services; $200 million to support Canada’s major festivals and events; $200 million to support local festivals and events; and $100 million for marketing campaigns to promote Canadian travel destinations.

The Government recently announced additional targeted support to businesses that are still facing significant pandemic-related challenges. Support will be available through two streams:

  1. Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, which will provide support through the wage and rent subsidy programs, to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies, and restaurants, with a subsidy rate of up to 75% .
  2. Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program, which will provide support through the wage and rent subsidy programs, will support other businesses that have faced deep losses, with a subsidy rate of up to 50% .

Throughout the pandemic, independent and self-employed travel agents have benefited from support measures provided by the Government of Canada, including the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and its successor the Canada Recovery Benefit, which came to an end on October 21, 2021.  These travel agents have expressed concern that the proposed targeted programs are geared towards salaried agents employed in travel agencies, and that they will continue to face challenges in accessing pandemic programs. As travel agents play a fundamental role in the recovery of the tourism sector, the Government will continue to work with industry representatives to identify effective ways to support the recovery of this important sector.

Response by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Chrystia Freeland

The government recognizes that while the recovery is underway, it is still uneven. Some businesses are deeply affected and have faced deep and enduring losses. In order to support these businesses and make sure they can recover and grow, the government has passed legislation to adapt pandemic support programs and target them to organizations that have been deeply affected by the pandemic.

Independent travel agents that have employees or eligible rent expenses would be eligible for wage and rent support under the new Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, provided they meet all of the eligibility conditions. 

This program provides a subsidy of up to 75 per cent for select tourism and hospitality businesses, including travel agents, that have been deeply affected since the outset of the pandemic and that continue to struggle from October 24, 2021 to May 7, 2022.

To qualify for the program, eligible organizations will need to demonstrate an average monthly revenue reduction of at least 40 per cent over the course of the first 12 months of the pandemic, as well as current-month revenue losses of at least 40 per cent. 

While sole-proprietors without employees would not have eligible wage expenses and therefore would not be eligible for wage support under the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program, they could have eligible expenses to qualify for a rent subsidy under this program.

To support Canadians, including independent travel agents, unable to work or that experienced significant income loss due to COVID-19, the government introduced in September 2020 temporary recovery benefits. This included the Canada Recovery Benefit which provided income support to individuals directly affected by COVID-19 who were not entitled to Employment Insurance. Independent travel agents that no longer have access to the Canada Recovery Benefit (which ended on October 23, 2021) could be eligible for other supports available to individuals. The government has passed legislation to extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and to establish a new Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit.

Independent travel agents could also be eligible for financing support through the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) and Canada Small Business Financing Program.

Open for signature
October 29, 2021, at 3:08 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
November 28, 2021, at 3:08 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Marc Dalton (Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge)
December 2, 2021 (Petition No. 441-00024)
Government response tabled
January 31, 2022
Photo - Marc Dalton
Pitt Meadows—Maple Ridge
Conservative Caucus
British Columbia