International Day of Persons with Disabilities

December 3, 2018

Donna Jodhan

Barrier-Free Canada

 

Dear Ms. Jodhan,

The International Day of Persons with Disabilities is an opportunity to reflect on progress achieved towards a more fully accessible world, and the distance we still have to go.

As you know, one of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s (CTA) three core mandates is advancing and protecting Canadians’ fundamental right to accessible transportation.  Barrier-free air, rail, bus, and ferry services play an important role in allowing persons with disabilities to live with independence and dignity. Travelling to see family, visit new places, attend appointments and events, and do our jobs should be as straightforward for someone with a disability as for someone without one.

The CTA’s vision is to help make Canada’s national transportation system the most accessible in the world, working closely with the disability rights community and transportation service providers.  This is an ambitious goal, but we believe that in a country committed to the values of equality and inclusion, we should aspire to nothing less.

To translate that goal into reality, concrete action is needed.  We are taking such action.

First, the CTA is preparing for the possible enactment of Bill C-81, the proposed Accessible Canada Act, which recently passed Third Reading in the House of Commons with unanimous support.  We are putting the pieces in place for enhanced outreach, education, and compliance monitoring activities, while working with other implementation bodies to ensure consistent approaches and a smooth, “no wrong door” experience for any person who wants to bring forward an accessibility-related complaint.

Second, the CTA is making significant progress on new Accessible Transportation Regulations, which will modernize and integrate the provisions of two existing regulations and six voluntary codes into a single, robust, binding instrument. Consultations on these regulations began in mid-2016 and continued through a special session of our Accessibility Advisory Committee on October 1, 2018.  We expect to have a phase 1 regulatory package covering larger carriers and terminals ready for publication in the Canada Gazette in the first months of 2019. Work on a phase 2 package will begin later in the year.

Third, the CTA, together with partners in other federal organizations, is spearheading efforts to increase the emphasis placed on accessible air transportation in the deliberations of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).  These efforts reflect the recognition that because air travel so often crosses borders, clear and common accessibility principles and practices at the international level are in the interests of both persons with disabilities and airlines.  One key objective of our efforts is passage of an accessibility-related resolution at ICAO’s triennial General Assembly, which will take place in Montreal in September 2019.

Finally, the CTA has convened and is continuing to support multi-stakeholder discussions on ways of addressing growing challenges around the storage and transportation of mobility devices on aircraft.  The international working group examining these challenges is expected to report back with findings and practical recommendations by the time our Accessibility Advisory Committee next meets in June 2019.

I would welcome any feedback you might have on the steps the CTA is taking to advance accessible transportation, and look forward to working with you over the coming year to bring these initiatives to fruition.

 

Yours truly,

Scott Streiner

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