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CCD Comments on Regulatory Proposal to Amend the Air Transportation Regulations (SOR/88-58)
March 4, 2010
December 4, 2008
March 1, 2008
January 30, 2013
Accessible Transportation Directorate
Regulations, Research and Analysis Division
Canadian Transportation Agency
Dear Mr. Campbell,
Thank you for the opportunity to expand on our views of the CTA’s Consultation Document “Regulatory Proposal to Amend the Air Transportation Regulations (SOR/88-58), as amended. This is our third opportunity to respond to your request and we hope our comments will further this process. Within this document there are both proposals that we support and are pleased to see moving forward and there are proposals that raise significant concerns for us.
Space for Service Animals
CCD supports the proposal related to Space for Service Animals. This is an appropriate amendment and is, as stated, in keeping with the outcome and decision related to the complaint initiated by Robin East, a member of our Transportation Committee. This proposal will ensure there is sufficient room for guide dogs as well as for the handler.
Types of Service Animals
CCD agrees with the proposal and option to “categorize the different types of service animals and provide criteria covering the acceptance of service animals within each category.” We support the Agency’s intention to follow the issue as it evolves regarding less traditional service animals. CCD does not have a clear policy position in regard to “emotional and psychiatric support animals.” It is not an issue area that is currently on our agenda and we do not have the resources to undertake the research necessary to develop a position.
Carriage of Mobility Aids
CCD remains concerned by the proposed changes to the Carriage of Mobility Aids. We assume the removal of the 60 seat threshold is intended to expand the options for travelers with mobility disabilities but the impact, without identifying the dimensions of cargo doors, will reduce options. Mobility aids are an extension of the person and must be understood as such. While we acknowledge and understand that some larger mobility aids are being used, without a standard or regulation related to cargo door size we believe it will undermine the years of work done to improve access for those who must travel with their mobility aid. The concern regarding size of mobility aid seems to overshadow the individual using the manual or motorized wheelchairs. Individuals who do not walk have no option. There are some who use larger scooters and often they tend to be the frail elderly or persons who are obese. If carriage of these aids is a challenge then CCD would suggest that this category be dealt with separately and that standards and regulations for scooters be developed.
CCD has raised with CTA our concern with the increased use of small planes such as Air Canada’s CRJ’s. These planes, even though some are over 60 seats, do not meet current regulation standards and they cannot even accommodate a CSA standard wheelchair. When complaints have been filed they have been dismissed and the Agency held that it was acceptable that the carrier ensure the individual reach his/her destination through an alternate route. CTA must understand that this approach places undue stress on individuals with disabilities in that “alternate routes” usually means more frequent transfers (lifting), often longer flight times and because washrooms are inaccessible to many people they must dehydrate themselves in order to travel. The “alternate route” approach does not ensure that Canadians with disabilities are afforded the same level of travel as the traveling public.
In regard to Seating Assignment CCD views the current suggested change improves the chances that travelers with disabilities will get the most accessible seating. People with disabilities should receive the seat that best meets their self-identified needs. Keeping the accessible seats in reserve for travelers with disabilities and allocating those seats last needs to continue.
Orientation for Blind and Visually Impaired
It is positive the CTA is recognizing the need to provide orientation to passenger-operated controls at the passenger’s seat. CCD would be interested in having a better understanding of how that orientation will be incorporated into the flight entertainment systems.
Remaining in a manual wheelchair being subject to time; in-flight assistive devices
The new amendment proposes that carriers can determine if there is sufficient time for a traveler to remain in their manual wheelchair from the terminal to boarding gate, aircraft door, and/or aircraft seat, dependent on the person’s scheduled departure. CCD is surprised at this significant change as people reliant on their personal manual wheelchair have an expectation that they can stay in their personal chair to the aircraft door. We find this suggestion as creating new barriers.
The amendments permitting a passenger to retain medically necessary aids in-flight is positive and we support it.
Inquiring periodically with persons who are not independently mobile
The document states that the Agency proposes this section to indicate that carriers must only provide this service if it is requested by passengers. The difficulty with this is often individuals, especially those who have recently acquired a disability, are not aware that they can request service while waiting for their flight. Carriers need to check with passengers with disabilities. We do not support CTA’s proposal to amend this section to indicate that carriers must only provide the service if it is requested by the passenger.
As CTA is aware the Supreme Court decision in VIA stated there should be “no new barriers.” CCD is most willing to discuss our concerns further with the Agency if that is helpful.
Chair, CCD Transportation Committee
CCD wins VIA Rail case at the Supreme Court of Canada on March 23, 2007.