ARTA Canada Ontario Members Question
TICO's Unilateral Renewal Conditions
Ministry Asked to Intervene
Toronto, 11 January 2010: ARTA Canada has received several inquiries from its Ontario members regarding TICO’s unilateral implementation of a new requirement at renewal for registrants to consent to providing 10-days advance "Notice of Intent to Cease Operations". On 16 December 2009, the Ontario Ministry of Consumer Services closed a public consultation which, among other things, included a similar proposal for consideration. However, TICO had already imposed the requirement on registrants effective 01 September 2009.
TICO claims it has authority to impose conditions on registration in accordance with the Travel Industry Act, 2002. However, following a legal review, ARTA Canada believes that TICO has misinterpreted its right to unilaterally impose conditions relating to registraton eligibility not already prescribed in the Act or Regulations - and certainly not a condition which is part of a yet-to-be-finalized public consultation on proposed amendments.
TICO's role is to manage and enforce consumer protection regulations; it does not have the authority to create them.
Even if ARTA Canada and its members were to have no issue with the substance and value of the notice requirement itself, the principle of allowing the registrar, Michael Pepper, to unilaterally impose any conditions of his choosing on applicants and renewals is clearly contrary to the regulations and would set a dangerous precedent in motion.
"What is very surprising, indeed, is that TICO for years refused to initiate many sought-after reforms and amended conditions requested by registrants because TICO claimed that there was nothing in the Act or Regulations to permit such a change. TICO routinely side-stepped matters which registrants complained about by referring to the lack of any regulatory authority to implement or change them. Now TICO comes before its registrants with unilateral changes which could seemingly prevent, if not consented to, new registrations and registration renewals. Giving TICO the power to create its own registration and renewal conditions, without government approval or registrant consultation, would have a chilling effect on Ontario's travel agencies", said ARTA Canada President Bruce Bishins, CTC.
ARTA Canada has written to TICO Chair Jill Wykes for an explanation as well as to request that TICO cease and desist from imposing such a non-approved policy. ARTA Canada has also asked the Ministry of Consumer Services to intervene in the matter.
About ARTA Canada
ARTA Canada is the largest non-profit federally incorporated professional association of travel retailers in Canada, the members of which consist exclusively of travel agencies and travel agents. In addition to advocating fair and equitable treatment of travel consumers, ARTA Canada represents the commercial and strategic interests of its member travel agencies and travel agents in a variety of national and provincial domains including regulatory and legislative matters, automation, technology, sales and marketing, and distribution.
ARTA Canada is the strategic partner in Canada of the U.S.-based Association of Retail Travel Agents (ARTA). ARTA Canada is the Canadian member of UFTAA, the United Federation of Travel Agents' Associations. To join ARTA Canada, complete details and online membership application and secure payment are available on the ARTA Canada web site at www.artacanada.ca/join.