Simon Jolin-Barrette, Quebec’s Minister of Justice and minister responsible for the province’s Office of Consumer Protection.
Quebec’s minister responsible for consumer protection, Simon Jolin-Barrette, has made a sweeping promise to ensure the province’s consumers get travel refunds for bookings made prior to the pandemic.
Jolin-Barrette said all players — whether it’s airlines, insurance companies or credit companies — will have to honour their commitments if the service has not been provided, Canadian Press reports.
While studying the office’s budgetary appropriations, Jolin-Barrette, also the Minister of Justice, concluded that travel industry players were passing the buck to each other to avoid paying.
It is a statement that those who understand the industry’s dynamics would likely find simplistic, at best and irresponsible at worst, as the revenue collected by tour operators is held in trust until such time as the consumer chooses to travel.
“Companies are giving consumers the runaround in order to not provide refunds,” said Jolin-Barrette, adding that even in the case of a plane ticket purchased from Air Canada, a federally regulated business, Quebec had the power to intervene based on the province’s Compensation Fund for Customers of Travel Agents.
“The legal framework must be improved. I want to assure Quebec consumers they will not lose the money they paid for vacations for their families or for themselves,” he said, pledging to solve the issue as quickly as possible.
“Everyone should have to pay what they have to pay,” he said, adding he was preparing a “global” solution that would cover “consumer contracts.”
Similarly to TICO, the Quebec consumer protection fund only protects consumers who purchase services through a travel agency that holds a licence. However, funding is provided by consumers rather than travel agents.
Whether the provincial government intends to enforce the commitment to consumers by attempting to compel airlines and tour operators to provide refunds, or by leveraging the protection fund, is unclear.
Anna Kroupina Journalist
Anna is OJ’s newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she’s new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.