FAQs: Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations

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Q1. Why did the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) develop these regulations?

One of the CTA's core mandates is to protect the human right of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network. The Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) help to achieve this by providing comprehensive and legally binding requirements across different modes of transportation – air, passenger rail, marine, and bus, as well as security and border screening.

The ATPDR is part of the CTA's Regulatory Modernization Initiative (RMI), which it launched in May 2016, to review and modernize the full suite of regulations it administers, including all accessibility regulations and related voluntary measures.

Q2. How do the ATDPR compare with the previous regime and change the accessibility standards for persons with disabilities?

The ATPDR establish new, legally binding and enforceable requirements for accessible transportation, replacing six codes and building on two older regulations, as well as best practices in Canada and around the world. They cover all modes of transportation under the CTA's jurisdiction.

The ATPDR are important because they will provide more consistent, predictable and up-to-date requirements for accessible transportation – to the benefit of both persons with disabilities and transportation service providers.

Q3. What are some of the new requirements for transportation service providers?

The ATPDR include requirements relating to accessible services, transportation equipment and technology, communications and training, as well as operations of the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority (CATSA) and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

The ATPDR also ensure requirements are enforceable through administrative monetary penalties (AMPS).

For more detailed information consult the website page – Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

Q4. Did the CTA consult on these regulations?

The CTA developed the ATPDR based on extensive consultations with the disability community and transportation service providers, members of the public and experts over more than two years.

Specifically, the CTA consulted with persons with disabilities and the industry, including members of the CTA's Accessibility Advisory Committee, as well as the general public, via in-person meetings, teleconferences and written submissions. The CTA held additional consultations during a 30-day public comment period following the publication of draft regulations in the Canada Gazette on March 9, 2019.

On July 10, 2019, the finalized ATPDR were published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.


Q5. To which transportation service providers do these regulations apply?

The ATPDR apply to the following, with some exceptions:

Large airlines operating within Canada, from Canada to a destination in a foreign country, or from a destination in a foreign country to Canada ('large airline' is one which has transported a worldwide total of at least 1 million passengers in each of the 2 preceding years).

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.

Q6. How will passengers know which transportation service providers are covered by the ATPDR?

Large carriers and terminal operators in all modes of transportation that are subject to the ATPDR are required to publish, including on their websites, a notice that they are subject to the regulations and a list of the provisions that apply to them.

Q7. Why don't the regulations cover small transportation service providers?

The ATPDR is an important first step in establishing comprehensive and modern accessibility requirements. However, there is more work to be done.

Small transportation service providers, including those in northern, regional and remote areas of Canada, often have unique operating circumstances or infrastructure limitations to take into consideration. The requirements that apply to large operators may not always be feasible.

At the same time, persons with disabilities served by small transportation service providers – including Indigenous peoples and communities – may have unique perspectives on how best to achieve accessible transportation in a way that meets their needs.

The CTA recently held consultations on how best to apply the ATPDR requirements to these transportation service providers. To better understand the perspective of persons with disabilities in these communities, as well as the carriers and terminals that serve them, the CTA will be holding more discussions in the fall. The CTA will then move forward with measures in this area.

In the meantime, small transportation providers have the obligation under Part V of the Canada Transportation Act to accommodate persons with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship. If a person files a complaint, they can be required to, among other things, take corrective action and/or provide compensation for pain and suffering. They may also be subject to the Personnel Training Regulations and the Air Transportation Regulations.


Q8. How will the new ATPDR requirements be enforced?

The CTA is responsible for enforcing the ATPDR and will apply its Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Policy to these regulations.

The CTA can levy an administrative monetary penalty of up to $250,000 where a transportation service provider has not complied with the new regulations. The CTA can also, in resolving a complaint, award compensation to a person with a disability if they experienced physical or psychological pain and suffering because a transportation service provider contravened the regulations.

Coming into Force

Q9- What provisions came into force on June 25, 2020?

Most provisions of the ATPDR – over 200 – are in force as of June 25, 2020. These include provisions relating to the transportation of mobility aids, the one person, one fare requirement for domestic travel, and allergy buffer zones.

Due to the severe disruptions to the transportation sector caused by COVID-19, a handful of ATPDR requirements will come into effect on January 1, 2021.

As originally planned, some more complex technical requirements, such as those relating to self-serve kiosks, are also being phased in until June 25, 2022 to ensure that they can be smoothly implemented.

Q10 - Why have some provisions been delayed due to COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused severe disruptions for Canadians generally, as well as the transportation sector. Given the widespread impacts of COVID-19, the CTA is delaying, with the approval of Cabinet, a handful of targeted provisions until December 31, 2020. This short delay will provide transportation service providers with sufficient time to implement the requirements.

The provisions being delayed generally require Information Technology (IT) changes or new infrastructure projects. In addition, the new training provisions of the ATPDR – which require transportation service providers to develop a program in consultation with the disability community and deliver it to their staff – are being delayed due to COVID-19 related measures such as social distancing.

These provisions were identified based on a consultation with affected stakeholders. Representatives of persons with disabilities were given the opportunity to provide input. Transportation service providers gave submissions on the provisions that will be difficult to implement due to the impacts of COVID-19.

Transportation service providers are expected to be in compliance with these requirements as of January 1, 2021. They must also continue to accommodate persons with disabilities up to the point of undue hardship, under Part V of the Canada Transportation Act.

Some transportation service providers requested that the CTA delay the coming into force of the entire ATPDR due to COVID-19. The CTA decided to proceed with the coming into force of the regulations on June 25th as planned, given that accessible transportation is a fundamental human right and the ATPDR is based on existing codes of practice and regulations.


Q11: Is there any guidance for transportation service providers and persons with disabilities on these new regulations?

The CTA has developed extensive guidance materials, available in accessible formats, on the ATPDR. This guidance explains, in plain language, the requirements of the ATPDR. It also takes into account questions raised by stakeholders during consultations.

Q12. How do the ATPDR relate to the Accessible Canada Act?

The Accessible Canada Act (ACA), which received Royal Assent in June 2019, amended the Canada Transportation Act to provide the CTA with new tools to help advance the accessibility of the national transportation system.

These include tools to enforce regulations such as the ATPDR. For example, administrative monetary penalties of up to $250,000 can now be levied for a violation of the regulations.

As well, transportation service providers, as a result of a complaint, can be required to pay damages for pain and suffering to a passenger for contravening the regulations.

In addition, the CTA may launch an own motion investigation, with the approval of the Minister, whether or not a complaint was filed. An own motion investigation may be appropriate when the CTA has reason to believe that an issue may exist, and where the issue may be urgent, or broad-based in nature, or where the CTA has received a large number of complaints that can most efficiently be handled through a single process.

Finally, the ACA amended subsection 172(3) of the Canada Transportation Act. This amendment makes it clear that if the CTA finds that there is an undue barrier for a particular individual with a disability, despite the fact that a transportation service provider has complied with a regulation, it is able to order corrective measures.

Q13. What are the next steps for Phase II of the ATPDR?

During the development of the ATPDR, some important issues were raised that required further analysis and discussion with stakeholders: the transportation of emotional support animals and service animals other than dogs; the one person one fare requirement for international travel; and the application of accessibility requirements to Canada's small transportation providers.

The CTA held consultations on these issues in Spring 2020, with a view to developing a Phase II regulation. The CTA is carefully considering the input provided during the consultations.

We will also be holding further discussions this fall with small transportation service providers and the disability community to better understand challenges and opportunities for improving accessible transportation with these providers.

Finally, the CTA will continue to advance new planning and reporting regulations under the Accessible Canada Act. These will require many transportation service providers to develop accessibility plans, in consultation with the disability community, and to report on their progress.

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