ACTA Applauds Extending Deadline For CEBA Loans

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Last week, when word spread that the federal government would extend the repayment deadline for the CEBA loan program, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) initially welcomed it with open arms, but further examination revealed something else entirely.

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Last week, ACTA joined other business organizations in applauding the government’s announcement to extend the deadline for repaying Canada Emergency Business Account loans from travel agencies and independent travel advisors, but details reveal it falls far short of meeting many travel businesses’ needs according to Wendy Paradis, president of ACTA.

Paradis reports that according to survey results, nearly half of ACTA members’ businesses are still trying to recover from COVID-19 debts, many using personal savings rather than staff or marketing expenditures to keep going. If this trend continues, she warns, it could seriously hinder travel industry recovery efforts.

ACTA has initiated an industry-wide letter-writing campaign directed at Minister Freeland, asking for additional time to repay federal loans. The campaign runs until Sept 29, and an autofill letter with your MP’s address can be found here. Additionally, further advocacy tactics will be employed throughout the Fall, including social media and consumer news media campaigns.

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Last week, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) welcomed a federal decision to extend the repayment deadline for CEBA loans by one year; however, as Open Jaw reported, it was “one hand giving and one taking away.” While more time may be offered for paying back CEBA loans, Wendy Paradis, President of ACTA, warned that key loan forgiveness provisions are being reduced or removed altogether from this program.

ACTA has initiated an aggressive advocacy strategy, including formal submissions to the government, media outreach, and an industry-wide letter-writing campaign, which began on 29 Aug. Their primary goal is extending the CEBA interest-free repayment deadline until December 31, 2025, and revising the terms of RF and HASCAP loans so more time may be given for repayment while still accessing forgivable portions; furthermore, ACTA wants information regarding preferred solutions for loan forgiveness, including increased debt relief or interest relief.

Repayment Schedule

While ACTA welcomed last week’s government announcement that CEBA (Canada Emergency Business Account) loans would be extended by one year, they remain dissatisfied with its fine print. According to Wendy Paradis, President of ACTA: “Hours after this announcement was made, details on the Department of Finance website appeared that painted an entirely different picture.”

Under current CEBA loan rules, travel agencies and independent travel advisors who pay back their CEBA loan by December 31, 2023, qualify for partial loan forgiveness of up to 33% of its original value; however, with this extension effectively repealing this essential element of the program for many affected businesses according to ACTA.

The association is calling upon federal Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland to maintain access to the forgivable portions of both RRRF and HASCAP loans and collaborate with industry to find viable solutions. Furthermore, ACTA will advocate for relief regarding federal loans taken out by travel industry firms under programs that differ from CEBA/RF terms.

ACTA will send its message directly to the federal government through an industry-wide letter-writing campaign from 29 August through 29 September. In addition, ACTA will make submissions and use mainstream news media to convey its message and meet with MPs across Australia in local communities, – working in coordination with TIAC for maximum impactful outreach to the Minister of Finance and other cabinet members.

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Last week, the Association of Canadian Travel Agencies (ACTA) welcomed the news that the government was providing more time for travel businesses to pay back CEBA loans and HASCAP debts; however, they remain very disappointed that interest-free debt forgiveness options have not been extended.

ACTA conducted a recent member survey and found that nearly two-thirds of travel agencies do not feel confident they can repay their debts by the December 31 repayment deadline, and 72% would like more loan or debt forgiveness or longer terms for repayment.

ACTA is working hard to ensure the travel industry’s concerns are heard and addressed by Minister Freeland. Their advocacy strategy includes formal submissions to government, as well as an outreach strategy targeting consumer news media and social media in an ongoing campaign that will run until fall.