Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations Highlights


ASL version of Overview
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Continue to the next video: Affected Transportation Service Providers


One of the CTA's core mandates is to protect the fundamental right of persons with disabilities to accessible transportation services. The ATPDR help do this by providing a set of clear, consistent accessibility requirements for all types of federally-regulated transportation.

These comprehensive new regulations build on two older regulations, six codes as well as best practices in Canada and around the world. Transportation service providers that do not meet the accessibility requirements set out in the regulations will face clear consequences, including Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPS).

This is an important change. Enforceable requirements reinforce respect for the rights of persons with disabilities while creating more predictability for transportation service providers.

This document explains which transportation service providers have to follow the ATPDR. It also explains what obligations those service providers have, and how we will enforce their obligations, in the following areas:

  • Services;
  • Fleets and equipment (technical requirements only);
  • Terminals;
  • Communications;
  • Training; and
  • Security screening and border clearance.

Most provisions of the ATPDR – over 200 – are now in force. More complex provisions are being phased-in over two years until 2022.

The ATPDR have been amended to correct errors and inconsistencies so that the ATPDR are as clear as possible. In addition, the Canadian Transportation Agency Designated Provisions Regulations have also been amended to ensure that accessibility-related orders of the CTA can be enforced with administrative monetary penalties. For highlights of the amendments, consult the summary.

Affected Transportation Service Providers

ASL version of Affected Transportation Service Providers
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Continue to the next video: Carrier Service Requirements


The ATPDR apply to the following, with some exceptions:


LargeFootnote 1 airlines operating within Canada, from Canada to a destination in a foreign country, or from a destination in a foreign country to Canada.


VIA Rail and Amtrak operations in Canada.


Ferries weighing at least 1,000 gross tonnes that operate across the national, provincial, or territorial borders and offer on-board services for passengers.


Greyhound and Mega Bus operations in Canada.


Airports located in a national, provincial, or territorial capital or that have served more than 200,000 passengers during each of the preceding two calendar years; Canadian transportation terminals used by the above rail, ferry and bus carriers; and Canadian ports used by cruise ships.

In addition, certain requirements related to security screening and border clearance, training, and communication, apply to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA).

While the ATPDR apply broadly to all modes of transport, there are some exceptions:

  • The service requirements apply to both Canadian and international carriers, but communications, technical and training requirements apply to Canadian carriers only;
  • The One Person, One Fare requirement only applies to domestic travel;
  • The technical requirements for Canadian airlines apply only to aircraft with 30 or more passenger seats; and,
  • Only the technical requirements apply to ports that serve cruise ships (given that services to persons with disabilities are provided by cruise ship personnel).

Carrier Service Requirements

ASL version of Carrier Service Requirements
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Continue to the next video: Carrier Technical Requirements


Large carriers are required to provide a wide range of services, such as help with check-in for departures and baggage retrieval for arrivals, free of charge.

Service Dogs

The regulations define "service dog" as "a dog that has been individually trained by an organization or person specializing in service dog training to perform a task to assist a person with a disability with a need related to their disability."

Carriers have to accept service dogs for carriage. However, in order to safeguard the right of persons with disabilities to travel with service dogs, the ATPDR permit carriers to require proof of specialized training in order to reduce the health and safety risks that untrained dogs accompanying travellers who do not have the same disability-related needs could pose to other passengers.


Carriers have to establish a "buffer zone" upon request of a person who has a disability as a result of a severe allergy. This will help the person avoid, or limit, their risk of exposure. The regulations define 'severe allergy' as an allergy which can cause a person to experience significant physical distress if directly exposed to the allergen.

One Person, One Fare

For travel within Canada, if a person with a disability requires more than one passenger seat due to disability-related needs – for example, because they travel with a support person or a service dog – carriers have to provide additional, adjacent passenger seating at no extra cost.

Carrier Technical Requirements

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Carriers must follow a number of key National Standard of Canada (CSA) specifications for the accessible design of their fleets and equipmentFootnote 2. These specifications cover such elements as washrooms, elevators, doors, and operating controls. There are also new technical requirements that apply to the storage and transportation of mobility aids.

The regulations also add technical requirements with respect to:

  • transfer seats, mobility aid spaces, and mobility aid storage space, lifts and ramps, window emergency exits, and accessible washrooms;
  • the availability of passenger safety information in accessible formats (i.e., in large print and Braille or using an electronic device) and on-board wheelchairs on trains; and
  • tactile row markers, armrests, and call buttons.

Carriers will also have new requirements for accessible on-board entertainment systems. These requirements come into effect for all transportation service providers on January 1, 2021.

Many of these provisions apply to future purchases or modifications. They do not require carriers to retrofit existing fleets or equipment. For the air sector, technical requirements apply to aircraft with at least 30 seats.


ASL version of Terminals
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Continue to the next video: Communications


The regulations include provisions for terminals, including the accessibility services terminals must provide and various technical requirements.

Terminal services

A terminal that has entered into an agreement for ground transportation services must ensure that those services are accessible.

In addition, terminal operators are subject to a new requirement to provide curbside assistance. This means terminal operators must help passengers with disabilities get into and out of terminals by doing the following:

  • helping a passenger who is at the terminal for boarding get from the curbside zone outside to the check-in area inside;
  • helping a passenger who has de-boarded at the terminal get from the general public area inside to the curbside zone outside, and
  • helping with wheelchairs, baggage, and navigating the terminal as part of this curbside assistance.

If the passenger's carrier is already providing curbside assistance, then the terminal operator is no longer required to do so.

Curbside assistance requirements come into effect for the rail and marine sector and for inter-provincial and international bus services as of June 25, 2020, and for the air sector as of January 1, 2021.

Terminal technical requirements

Terminals must meet specific technical requirements, including the requirement to follow CSA specifications for accessible designFootnote 3. In addition, terminals must:

  • meet specific requirements for the terminal-provided wheelchairs and seating that should be available;
  • repair technical problems that limit accessibility as soon as possible, and take measures to provide a substantially equivalent or greater level of accessibility while the repairs are being done; and
  • have relief areas for service dogs. As of January 1, 2021, if the terminal has a secure area, the terminal must provide relief areas both outside the terminal and directly accessible from the secure side of the terminal so a person does not need to exit and re-enter the secure area.

The requirement to comply with the CSA standard only applies to the future acquisition or lease of a terminal and to renovations to an existing one. Terminal operators are not required to retrofit existing buildings or equipment used in them.


ASL version of Communications
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Canadian transportation service providers must ensure the following are accessible to persons with disabilities:

  • for carriers, key announcements and other communications to inform the public (these would have to be provided in accessible formats) as of January 1, 2021;
  • automated self-service kiosks, which must comply with Canadian Standards Association (CSA) specifications; and
  • telecommunications systems for reservations and information.

Carriers must also clarify the size and weight of mobility aids that their fleets can carry in cargo holds and baggage compartments.

Transportation terminals have to follow the CSA specifications for any self-service kiosks they own or operate. In addition, terminals need to prominently post information about the terminal's accessibility, including any accessible intra-terminal or ground transportation.

Carriers and terminal operators must publish a notice, including on their website, that they are subject to the ATPDR and the provisions that apply to them, in addition to the services that they offer to persons with disabilities and any related conditions.


ASL version of Training
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Continue to the next video: Requirements for the Canada Border Services Agency and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority


Transportation service providers are required to make sure their employees and contractors are properly trained to provide transportation-related services to persons with disabilities. In particular:

  • employees and contractors must complete required training within 60 days of starting their duties, and refresher training must be provided at least once every three years;
  • untrained personnel have to be supervised by trained personnel until they receive training;
  • transportation service providers have to give a description of their training program to the CTA and any person upon request (unless the information is confidential or otherwise sensitive);
  • training must cover key human rights principles regarding dignity, equal opportunities, barrier-free access, and autonomy;
  • new training requirements will apply to employees or contractors who assist passengers with on-board entertainment systems and automated self-service kiosks; and
  • the regulations require transportation service providers to consult with persons with disabilities when developing training programs and the principal teaching methods.

These requirements come into effect as of June 25, 2020, for the rail sector and as of January 1, 2021, for other sectors.

Requirements for the Canada Border Services Agency and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority

ASL version of Requirements for the Canada Border Services Agency and Canadian Air Transport Security Authority
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Canadian border and transportation security organizations must have accessibility measures in place for people going through airport security and entering Canada by means of the national transportation system.

They are required to:

  • provide assistance to persons with disabilities, when requested;
  • where applicable, help persons with disabilities complete their declaration card, or accept a verbal declaration instead;
  • screen a person and their disability aid at the same time, or promptly return the disability aid if it requires separate screening
  • provide instructions in writing or, if possible, in American Sign Language or Langue des signes Québécois, where requested; and,
  • ensure any signs they produce and display are accessible.

In addition, the organizations are required to help persons with disabilities who, for disability-related reasons, have difficulty waiting in line by directing them, and any support person travelling with them, to an alternate line designed to move them more quickly through the process.


ASL version of Enforcement
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End of ASL videos - Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations Highlights


The CTA is responsible for enforcing the ATPDR, including through administrative monetary penalties of up to $250,000.

The CTA can also, in resolving a complaint, award a person compensation if they experienced physical or psychological pain and suffering because a transportation service provider has contravened the regulations.

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