Passenger rights advocates are encouraging Canadians to refuse travel vouchers for cancelled flights, warning that consumers are entitled to refunds by law in Canada — a rule they say is not enforced.
“Airlines are currently stealing the public’s money in Canada,” Gabor Lukacs, president of the Airline Passenger Rights group, told CTV’s NewsDay on Quibi.
“When your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a refund. It’s the law in Canada… the difference is if Canada doesn’t enforce the rights of passengers.”
Airline executive have repeatedly defended their decision not to issue refunds to customers after thousands of flights were cancelled due to COVID-19. Instead many have saddled customers with vouchers they likely won’t use in the foreseeable future, as borders remain closed amid the ongoing pandemic.
But Lukacs and other rights advocates are encouraging consumers to refuse the vouchers altogether.
“Our advice to people is do not accept the voucher. Make it very clear, if you don’t accept it, [that] it’s not something that they can impose on you,” he says.
Earlier this week, executives from Air Canada, WestJet and Air Transat were questioned about these refund refusals by parliamentarians during a House of Commons health committee meeting.
During the meeting, Jared Mikoch-Gerke, manager of aviation security at WestJet Airlines Ltd., stated that an April statement from the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) said “that airline tariffs do not always provide for cash refunds, especially in cases beyond our control.”
However, in a statement sent to CTVNews.ca on Tuesday, the CTA disputed Mikoch-Gerke’s claim, stating that the CTA “never granted airlines the right to refuse a cash refund for a cancellation related to COVID-19.”
“If a person believes they are entitled to a refund for a flight that was cancelled for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic and doesn’t want to accept a voucher, they can ask the airline for a refund,” the statement read.
“If a passenger thinks they are entitled to a refund and the airline refuses to provide one or offers a voucher with conditions the passenger doesn’t want to accept, they can file a complaint with the CTA, which will determine if the airline complied with the terms of its tariff. Each case will be decided on its merits.”
On Thursday, Air Canada quietly changed its refund policy to allow some customers to recoup their cash — but not passengers whose trips originated in Canada.
Customers with flights originating in the European Union, Switzerland and Iceland due to the pandemic are “entitled to receive a refund,” according to a document recently posted to Air Canada’s website.
The statement cites an EU regulation that grants passengers “the right to choose between reimbursement, rerouting or rebooking the flight at a later date” if their trip is called off by the airline.
This comes after WestJet offered refunds to travellers whose tickets list a U.S. or U.K. city as the destination or origin, provided the flight isn’t a part of a vacation package.
Lukacs notes that if the airline cancels the flight but does not provide a refund in the form of original payment, customers can dispute the claim in the form of a chargeback with their credit card company.
Chargebacks are used to protect credit card customers and are a way for consumers to dispute transactions for services that were not fulfilled. If approved by the credit card company, a refund for the transaction will be processed.
“If your credit card is being unco-operative, refuse to pay your credit card bill,” Lukacs adds.
I ACCEPTED A VOUCHER BUT IT’S ABOUT TO EXPIRE. WHAT CAN I DO?
Lukacs notes that consumers who are stuck with airline vouchers shouldn’t give up the fight just yet.
“I would simply say I didn’t accept it. It was sent to me involuntarily,” he said, encouraging consumers to fight for a refund despite having the voucher.
If the airline still refuses, Lukacs says to threaten action through the credit card company.
“In most cases with most chargebacks it’s a statutory right. It’s guaranteed by your Provinces Consumer Protection Act,” he said. “It is your entitlement.”
On June 4, six consumer associations and civil society members penned a letter to the government asking that they ensure customers be refunded in their original form of payment. However, the government has yet to compel the airline to issue any refunds.
With files from CTV News’ Rachel Gilmore and The Canadian Press.
Times are tough for Canada's self-proclaimed french fry capital – CBC.ca
For the past few years, Ottawa’s Carole Richard has made an annual pilgrimage with her friends to the small town of Alfred, Ont., to sample the local spuds.
The village of about 1,200 people on County Road 17 — about 70 kilometres east of Ottawa — is, after all, the self-proclaimed french fry capital of Canada.
“I like small fries like these, well-cooked, a little dry,” said Richard, pausing between bites at the Landriault Snack Bar. “They’re super good.”
These days, however, fried potato enthusiasts like Richard only have one local option for satiating their cravings. Of the multiple chip stands and canteens that once dotted the village, only one — the Landriault Snack Bar — still remains.
“When we [were] here 10, 11 years ago, there were four,” owner Bruce Forget recently told Radio-Canada in a French-language interview.
“They all disappeared quietly,” he said.
Some in Alfred trace the decline of the fry shacks to the arrival of a Tim Hortons franchise at the village’s entrance.
Others cite the 2012 completion of Highway 50 on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River, which allowed motorists travelling between the National Capital Region and Montreal to bypass County Road 17 altogether.
There’s also the simple fact that the french fry business is hard work — one of the main reasons that Suzanne Villeneuve, owner of Miss Alfred, decided not to open her doors this winter.
Had she done so, her canteen would have celebrated its 50th anniversary this year.
“People can’t imagine [how busy it is],” Villeneuve told Radio-Canada in French, noting that all the food at Miss Alfred was homemade.
“It was 12 hours a day [six days a week]. On the seventh, you changed the oil and then finally took care of your own business.”
As for Forget, he agrees that running a fry shack is hard work — and is well aware that, when it comes to the village’s crispy claim to fame, he’s the only one left keeping it alive.
“I’m the last of the Mohicans,” he laughed.
Canada saw 221 new coronavirus cases Saturday — all of them from Ontario and Quebec – Globalnews.ca
Canada added 221 novel coronavirus cases on Saturday, all in Ontario and Quebec.
In Canada, the total number of COVID-19 cases diagnosed is 107,326, while 8,773 people have died. According to figures released Saturday, just over 3.6 million in the country had been tested for the virus.
Saturday’s numbers were incomplete though, as only six provinces released COVID-19 data that day. Missing are the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Prince Edward Island and the territories.
In Ontario, officials reported 130 new cases and six deaths caused by COVID-19 for a total of 36,594 cases and 2,716 deaths. Saturday’s numbers mark an increase from Friday, which only saw a rise of 116 newly infected residents.
Over 1.6 million in the province have been tested while 32,422 people have recovered.
Quebec, the province hit hardest by the novel coronavirus,recorded more than 56,407 cases on Saturday after reporting 91 new confirmed cases — a drop from the 100 reported on Friday.
Eight more people have died, leaving the total number of deaths at 5,620. By Saturday, slightly less than half of all active cases had recovered while over 954,000 were tested.
Four out of the six provinces that released new data on Saturday haven’t seen new cases in the last two or more days.
In Manitoba, officials said no one has been diagnosed with COVID-19 since June 30, leaving the province’s total number of confirmed cases at 314 plus 11 cases considered presumptive. Seven people have died and just over 69,000 people have been tested as of Friday.
New Brunswick is on its third consecutive day without a new case of the COVID-19 and nobody in the province has died from the virus since mid-June. All but three of the province’s 166 infected residents have recovered while 46,214 have been tested.
There were no new cases recorded in Nova Scotia on Saturday, which is on its fourth day without any newly confirmed cases and 20th day without COVID-19-related deaths. More than 58,000 people have been tested so far and 1,000 have recovered from the virus.
Newfoundland and Labrador, too, had no new cases or deaths to report on Saturday. Only three people in the province have died from the virus while 258 of its 262 cases have recovered. Over 20,000 residents have been tested.
British Columbia, which last released data on Friday, has recorded 187 deaths and 3,028 confirmed cases — nine of which are ideologically linked, which refers to when a patient may have been in contact with one or more people who tested positive with the virus but hasn’t been tested.
Overall, Alberta has seen 8,596 cases and 160 deaths. As of Friday in Saskatchewan, 15 people have died from the virus while the number of cases remains at 815. Prince Edward Island has yet to record any deaths linked to the virus, but confirmed 33 cases as of Friday.
Nunavut has yet to have its first confirmed case, while the Yukon and Northwest Territories have each recorded 11 and five cases of the virus, respectively. All known cases in the territories have recovered.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Canada reports 10 new coronavirus-related deaths, more than 300 new cases – Globalnews.ca
Cases of the novel coronavirus in Canada surpassed 107,000 July 10, after 322 new infections were reported by provincial health authorities.
The new cases brings the total number of lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country to 107,105. Another 10 deaths linked to the virus were also announced Friday, bringing Canada’s official coronavirus death toll to 8,759.
A further 70,842 people — over 66 per cent of Canada’s total infected — have since recovered from the virus, while another 3.3 million tests have been administered.
Ontario reported the highest number of new coronavirus cases on Friday, with 116 new cases and seven deaths. The province’s total COVID-19 infections now sit at 36,464, with 2,710 deaths from the virus.
However, at least 32,155 people have recovered.
Quebec, the province hit hardest but the coronavirus, announced 100 new cases on Friday. Three new deaths were also reported within the province — one of which occurred before July 2.
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The province’s total cases and deaths stand at 56,316 and 5,612, respectfully.
Alberta reported 77 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, the highest daily increase in new infections since May 10. The death toll in the province was lowered to 160 on Friday after a previous fatality was determined to not be COVID-19 related.
Confirmed cases in the province now total at 8,596.
British Columbia added 25 new cases on Friday, as well as one new death. The new numbers bring B.C.’s total infected to 3,044 and its death toll to 187. A further 2,679 patients have since recovered.
Coronavirus: U.S. COVID-19 cases surge amid reopening debate
Saskatchewan announced two new cases of the virus on Friday, as well, bringing its total infected 815. The province’s deaths still sit at 15, while 757 people have recovered from the virus.
Both Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador reported just one new case each of the coronavirus on Friday, bringing their provincial case totals to 33 and 262, respectively.
On Friday, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam released a statement in lieu of a daily in-person update.
“Resilience is a word that we have all come to understand in a deeper way as we face COVID-19 in our communities. It implies courage, tenacity and collaboration,” read the statement, which touches on the AIDS 2020 international conference.
“The HIV community has been a beacon in the fight against stigma. Approaches to community-led and culturally appropriate care, particularly in Indigenous communities, have served as models and improved our responses to other health challenges, including in the response to COVID-19.”
Worldwide, cases of the novel coronavirus have reached 12,459,000 according to a running tally kept by John Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, a total 558,683 people have since died.
© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
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