Earlier today, the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario (OAGO) released its value-for-money audit of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario (TICO).

The OAGO conducts audits of government and broader public sector organizations to ensure they are operating effectively and efficiently. TICO’s report is part of a package that includes audits of 11 other organizations and follows similar audits of other regulators in recent years.

The report recommends areas where TICO can enhance its processes, systems and procedures. It also raises several oversight and broader policy considerations for government.

I’d like to provide more details about several of the recommendations:

The report reiterated the need for an updated funding model for TICO: The OAGO highlighted TICO’s practice over the past 26 years of using Compensation Fund fees to cover a portion of operating expenses to manage, maintain and protect the Fund, as permitted under the legislation. Following a year-long funding framework and fee review, TICO announced five proposals in October 2023 to update its funding structure. A five-week industry consultation concluded in early November, where all registrants had an opportunity to have their say. TICO is now in the process of compiling all the feedback heard throughout the consultation process in a report to our Board of Directors and the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery. We’ll keep all registrants updated as this process continues.

The report identified that, in some cases, TICO held onto security deposits for more than two years: At the time of registration, all applicants provide TICO with a security deposit of $10,000, which is to be returned if there are no compliance concerns after two years of registration. During the pandemic, TICO made the difficult decision to hold onto all security deposits, in the interest of consumers, should claims occur. Now that the pandemic is in the rearview mirror, and as identified by the OAGO, we are in the process of reviewing security deposits and returning them, where it’s appropriate.

But the OAGO also identified cases that extend beyond the timeframe of the pandemic. If we were holding on to your security deposit longer than we should have, we apologize. Since January 1, 2023, we have already    returned approximately $1 million of eligible security deposits and are in the process of working our way through the remaining deposits.

It’s also important to note that there are times we may hold on to security deposits for longer than two years, for reasons that include late filings and compliance issues. We are making enhancements to our processes to  ensure security deposits that are eligible to be returned are processed in a timelier manner.

The report highlighted transformational changes in the travel industry: We are doing business in 2023, while working with a regulatory model and legislation in need of modernization. There have been tremendous changes in the travel industry, including the way consumers purchase travel and the way travel businesses operate. The report recommends that the Ontario government review the Travel Industry Act, 2002, the Compensation Fund and TICO’s role to consider if changes are necessary. TICO welcomes this recommendation and is looking forward to working with the Ministry and all stakeholders, should the government proceed with a review.

The purpose of the OAGO value-for-money audit is to find things that aren’t working as well as they should be. At TICO, we are using the recommendations as an opportunity to enhance administrative and procedural items where we can do better, and we are eager to make those enhancements.

Looking ahead, TICO will provide its implementation plan to the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery in early 2024. TICO will also report on its progress to address the recommendations through a Public Action Plan, which will be posted on TICO’s website.

We will keep the industry updated as we work on the OAGO’s recommendations, while remaining focused on supporting Ontario’s travel consumers. If you have questions, please feel free to contact our team at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Thank you for your time,

Richard Smart
President and CEO, TICO