The Transport Minister’s revelation that travel restrictions could go on beyond May raised eyebrows throughout the travel industry this week (see updated details below.)
It has lent new urgency to ACITA’s advocacy efforts – which continue with an appearance before Ottawa’s finance committee Thursday and a meeting with the Deputy PM’s office.
“We’re certainly not going to take our foot off the gas,” Brenda Slater, independent travel advisor and one of the three co-founders of the Association of Canadian Independent Travel Advisors (ACITA), told Open Jaw.
“The commission recall is the biggest issue we need to solve, as well as the continuation of the CRB extension six months past any lifting of travel advisories. The inability to qualify for any federal funding, and very minimal provincial funding across the board, also remain on our radar,” said Slater.
ACITA’s invitation to present as a stakeholder to Canada’s Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) came just hours after it met with Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra on Monday. They also secured a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland’s senior policy advisor Tuesday. Slater hopes ACITA’s virtual call with Freeland’s advisor will help secure a direct meeting with the deputy Prime Minister herself.
“Both of those (invitations) were a direct result, we feel, from our meeting with Omar Alghabra. It has already opened new doors,” said Slater, who founded ACITA along with independent advisors Judith Coates and Nancy Wilson.
Minister Dashes Hopes of Travel Restrictions Lifting in MAY
It was during ACITA’s Monday meeting with Minister Alghabra when he cautioned advisors to not get their hopes up about travel restrictions lifting at the end of APR, when the ban on flights to the Caribbean and Mexico is set to expire.
“It’s disheartening for us to think that a year into this, it’s going to be another four, six or eight months. We don’t know the answer to that and he can’t provide one, and that’s fair enough. But that comment was not an easy one to absorb. He wasn’t forthcoming on any information, other than basically saying that he was only one person in a group of people that need to make this decision,” said Slater.
Open Jaw reached out to Transport Canada asking for clarity on travel restrictions and which benchmarks are used in determining when to eliminate the “do not travel” advisory and reopen borders.
A ministry official responded that “the decisions to re-open Canada’s borders or to adjust travel restrictions will be made only when the time is right to do so, and will be grounded in science and evidence” and that the decision will be made with input from numerous federal departments, including Transport Canada.
“Ultimately, any decisions relating to the border and travel restrictions will be taken based upon the analyses provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada and the potential impacts on the health of the Canadian public.”