Ontario unveils new all-in vacation pricing rules to protect consumers from costly surprises

The price you see is the price you'll pay, if you're trying to escape Ontario's winter weather on New Year's Day.

Travel industry head welcomes new rules, which come in to play on Jan. 1, 2017

Shopping for a trip down south? New rules unveiled by Ontario's government mean you'll see the all-in cost for vacation packages as of Jan. 1, 2017. (Desmond Boylan/Reuters)

The price you see is the price you'll pay, if you're trying to escape Ontario's winter weather on New Year's Day.

The province is changing the Travel Industry Act to require companies selling vacations to show the full price — inclusive of all taxes and fees — beginning on Jan. 1. 

The government said the all-in pricing will reduce confusion and hopefully eliminate costly surprises for customers, while encouraging fair competition on the business side.

"We've all got a big surprise once we've got to the payment page," Lalonde told reporters at a news conference at Toronto's Billy Bishop City Centre Airport.

Now, she said the pricing will be "safe, simple, clear and easy."

A government spokesperson said it's unclear if Ontario is the only province to pass rules like this. A spokesperson with Canada's competition bureau agreed. 

It's also unclear what punishment the government will impose should companies break the rules.

Airlines, which are federally regulated, already have to adhere to this pricing system when advertising flights that depart from Canadian airports. Repeat offenders of these rules would face a $25,000 fine.

Richard Smart, head of the Travel Industry Council of Ontario, welcomed the move, saying reducing confusion will help customers and businesses.

Always read the fine print, competition bureau warns

The federal competition bureau recently issued a series of recommendations for those planning to travel during the holidays, warning them to check the terms and conditions of any vacation package they buy.

"Unexpected fees or terms and conditions hidden in the fine print could hike prices and put the brakes on your festive mood," the bureau wrote in a news release.

The competition bureau provided several travel booking tips, including:

  • Allow enough time to research trips and compare prices.
  • Beware of package deals that may involve outside providers that have their own terms and conditions.
  • Read the terms and conditions — including the fine print — and watch out for any restrictions or limitations.
  • Take note of what you are paying for and what is or isn't refundable.

Ontario's government is also asking the public for advice on how to further protect travellers and will begin a consultation process in February.

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