Accessibility complaints about transportation services
Persons with disabilities have a right to equal access to federal transportation services.
We can help with complaints that are related to a person's disability and occurred while travelling on the national transportation system, which includes:
- airlines operating within, to, or from Canada;
- rail, ferry and bus carriers that operate between provinces or territories or between Canada and the United States;
- airports, rail stations and ferry terminals located in Canada; or
- services that are integral to the transportation services provided by a carrier or terminal located in Canada.
Definition of disability
A disability is defined as any impairment, including a physical, mental, intellectual, cognitive, learning, communication or sensory impairment — or a functional limitation — whether permanent, temporary or episodic in nature, or evident or not, that, in interaction with a barrier, hinders a person’s full and equal participation in society.
Other organizations that can help
If you make a complaint to the Canadian Transportation Agency about accessibility, we may refer you to another organization that is better suited to address your issue.
Before you file a complaint with us, you may want to look into whether one of the organizations listed below is more appropriate to deal with your accessibility complaint.
- Human Rights
The Canadian Human Rights Commission receives discrimination complaints and works to resolve the issues through mediation. When a complaint cannot be settled, or when the Commission determines that further examination is warranted, it may refer the complaint to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
- Government of Canada departments, Crown Corporations and agencies
The Federal Public Sector Labour Relations and Employment Board administers the collective bargaining and grievance adjudication systems for the federal public sector and Parliamentary employees as well as RCMP members and reservists. It is also responsible for resolving staffing complaints under the Public Service Employment Act related to internal appointments and layoffs in the federal public service.
- Broadcasting and telecommunications services
The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission receives customer complaints about telecommunications and television services.
After you submit a complaint: Dispute resolution services
You will receive a confirmation email that includes a case number. You can check the status of your complaint at any time.
Our expert staff will review your complaint and ask you for more information, if necessary. You may need to complete a Medical Information Form.
If you haven't contacted the transportation service provider about your complaint, that's the first thing we'll do. We will forward your complaint with a 30-day deadline for them to respond. Often the issue can be resolved directly with the transportation service provider.
If you're not satisfied with the response, we can try to resolve your complaint through facilitation or mediation – fast and easy informal dispute resolution processes. The vast majority of complaints are resolved this way.
Where less formal processes don't prove successful, the Agency also offers a court-like process called adjudication, where a panel will make a decision based on the evidence provided.
The adjudication process can also be used in more complex cases where a passenger feels that the transportation service provider's contract is unclear, unjust, unreasonable or discriminatory.
If the Agency convenes an in-person hearing for your disability-related adjudication case, limited funding may be available to help cover your travel and accommodation expenses to take part in the hearing.
Have questions relating to accessible transportation?
Need help filing an accessibility complaint?
Contact us Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST.
Transcript: Accessible transportation complaints process
The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) is an independent, quasi-judicial tribunal with the mandate of administering the regulatory provisions affecting the modes of transportation under the authority of Parliament, as set out in the Canada Transportation Act (CTA) and other legislation.
Part V of the CTA provides the Agency with the human rights mandate to eliminate undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities in the federal transportation network and ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to transportation services. This includes accessible transportation complaints.
The Agency's responsibility to resolve accessible transportation problems is limited to situations where the problem was related to a person's disability and occurred in the federal transportation network.
When we refer to the federal transportation network, we are talking about the Agency's jurisdiction. The Agency's jurisdiction applies to:
- Airlines operating within Canada, or to or from Canada
- Airports within Canada;
- Passenger rail companies, ferry companies and bus companies that are providing services between provinces within Canada or between Canada and the United States. This would also include their stations or terminals in Canada.
- Finally, the Agency's jurisdiction also applies, in some circumstances, to services that are related to the transportation services provided by a carrier or terminal in Canada.
Transcript: Resolving your accessible transportation issue
Service providers have the responsibility to ensure that persons with disabilities have equal access to federal transportation services by providing accommodation up to the point of undue hardship, and in a manner that respects the dignity of persons with disabilities.
Before you travel, make sure you provide your service provider with enough notice so that they can make the proper arrangements to accommodate your disability-related needs. For example, you may be travelling with a service animal, or may require a buffer zone due to a peanut allergy. If this is the case, make sure you provide advance notice to the service provider. You should give them a reasonable timeframe to arrange for your required accommodations, usually 48 hours.
Sometimes, even the best planned trip can go wrong. If you encounter a problem or you have concerns related to your trip, let the transportation service provider know right away. Often a discussion is all that is required to fix the problem.
Make sure to keep all your receipts and documents. You should also keep a record of who you talked with and when. Also, write a description of what happened as soon as you can, while the details are still fresh in your mind.
How to file a complaint
Before filing a complaint with the Agency, you should first try to solve the issue with the transportation service provider by making them aware of your complaint and allowing them 30 days to respond. Direct contact is often the most effective way to resolve a complaint.
If you have tried to resolve the issue with the service provider and aren't satisfied with the result, you can file an application with the Agency by using the complaint wizard, available on the Agency's website at www.otc-cta.gc.ca under the Complaints and Disputes tab or by submitting an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You don't need a lawyer to file your complaint, although you can if you wish to do so. You can also choose to be represented by another person, such as a family member or friend but first, you must provide the Agency with written authorization for that person to act on your behalf.
Once the Agency has received your application, an employee will contact you to discuss options to address your complaint.