Chair and CEO Scott Streiner Announces Proposed Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations on March 11, 2019
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It’s a pleasure to be here today with Minister Qualtrough, and Robyn McVicker, Vice President, Operations and Maintenance of the Vancouver International Airport.
YVR is an appropriate place to hold an event focused on accessible transportation. It’s the first airport to receive the “Accessibility Certified Gold” rating under the Rick Hansen Foundation Accessibility Certification and is the highest-rated facility in the program. Congratulations to the YVR team!
The organization I lead, the Canadian Transportation Agency, is Canada’s longest-standing arms-length regulator and tribunal, having been established in 1904. Since 1988, one of our three core mandates has been protecting the human right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation. It’s a responsibility we take very seriously.
Our vision is to help make Canada’s national transportation system the most accessible in the world. That’s an ambitious vision, but we think that in a country whose fundamental values include human dignity, equality, and inclusion, we should strive for nothing less.
Transportation is essential to modern life. We board planes, trains, buses, and ferries to see loved ones, visit new places, get to work, conduct business, and obtain medical treatment. Barrier-free transportation allows persons with disabilities to – as the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities puts it – “live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life.”
The proposed Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations that I’m announcing today are a big step towards that goal.
The regulations will replace two existing regulations and six voluntary codes of practice – all of which date back 15 or 20 years – with a single, modern, robust, and legally binding instrument that will apply to larger carriers and terminals. The regulations were developed by the CTA after two years of consultations with disability rights organizations, transportation service providers, and interested Canadians.
The regulations will ensure that someone in a wheelchair receives proper assistance from the curb to the plane at airports. That there’s enough space for a service dog on a plane. That transportation service providers communicate information in formats accessible to travellers with various disabilities. That someone with severe allergies be seated away from an allergen. That personnel are trained to provide effective and appropriate services to persons with disabilities.
The regulations have now been posted for a 30-day public comment period on the Canada Gazette site. A summary, and a link for submitting feedback, can be found on our website: cta.gc.ca. We look forward to hearing from Canadians during this last round of consultations, and to finalizing the regulations before the summer.
Once the regulations are in force, we’ll start work on a second phase, during which we’ll consider whether some provisions should be adapted for smaller carriers and terminals in light of their unique operating realities. In the meantime, the current regulations and codes will continue to apply to smaller carriers and terminals.
The new Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations are important for all Canadians. About one in five of us has a disability, and this proportion is growing as the average age of the population rises. We’re all touched by issues of accessibility, whether it’s because we have a disability ourselves, or will have one in the future, or have a grandparent, parent, spouse, child, friend, or colleague with a disability.
The regulations will make a major difference in the lives of travellers with disabilities. Let me conclude by expressing my appreciation to all the disability rights organizations and industry representatives who have contributed so much to getting us to this point. It’s thanks to our collective efforts towards achieving the objective of accessible transportation that the regulations are close to completion.
I’ll now turn the microphone back to Minister Qualtrough, who will take questions from the media. After she’s done so, I’d be happy to respond to any questions as well.