Federal Supports Still Needed
By Hardest-Hit Businesses
Meetings Mean Business Canada is gratified that the federal government, in the 2022 Budget released April 7, acknowledges the visitor economy as “a key economic driver and job creator” while also recognizing the devastating effects that the pandemic has had on the tourism industry as a whole.
Meetings Mean Business Canada wishes to clarify any misconceptions around a statement made in the budget document that “Canada’s high vaccination rate and the lifting of travel restrictions are providing important relief as the sector begins to turn the corner.”
Canada’s visitor economy, including business events, is in the very early stages of rebuilding our shattered industry. It will take years for our hardest-hit businesses to “turn the corner” after suffering border closures, shutdowns, labour shortages and other disruptions caused by the pandemic. We were disappointed to hear Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland state that “the time for extraordinary COVID support is over,” and that the government will not extend the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).
That said, Budget 2022 contains several significant wins for the visitor economy:
Open Border: Ottawa has dropped testing at the border for fully vaccinated travellers, and Budget 2022 signals that the government intends to keep the border open by removing all funding associated with border closures and quarantine program spending.
Labour: Budget 2022 addresses backlogs and processing times under the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and promises to revisit the Immigration Act to prioritize the types of skills needed by industries such as tourism
Federal Tourism Growth Strategy: To be led by the Minister of Tourism in close consultation with industry stakeholders.
“Budget 2022’s positive initiatives reflect the unified efforts of industry stakeholders, including MMBC and our advocacy partners, the Coalition of Hardest Hit Businesses and the Tourism Industry Association of Canada,” says MMBC Chair Laura Pallotta. “We welcome the opportunity to work with Minister Boissonnault and his team to develop the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy in ways that will help business events and the visitor economy recover and thrive.”