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Compliance Report: Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport

Table of contents


The Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) is responsible for ensuring that undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities are removed from air and federal rail, ferry and bus services and facilities. It seeks to remove these obstacles by:

  • administering regulations and codes of practice;
  • educating the transportation industry and the community of persons with disabilities about their rights and responsibilities;
  • ruling on accessibility-related disputes and by ordering corrective measures as required.

In addition to enforcement measures, the Agency ensures compliance with its rulings, regulations and codes of practice through periodic monitoring exercises. The Agency has adopted a risk-based approach for monitoring compliance and works closely with industry and other parties to assist them in addressing instances of non-compliance.

As part of its regular monitoring, the Agency assessed the compliance level of the Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport (Ottawa Airport).

This report describes the results of this monitoring.

What was assessed

The Agency assessed the Ottawa Airport's compliance with key provisions from the Code of Practice: Passenger Terminal Accessibility (Terminal Code), the Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities (Communication Code), as well as provisions in the Personnel Training for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities Regulations (PTR), that pertain to:

  • accessibility features of the Ottawa Airport facilities;
  • administrative services (e.g., how information on available services is provided on the day of travel and on the airport's Web site);
  • accessibility awareness training of staff and any contracted personnel who interact with persons with disabilities.

How the monitoring was done

Agency staff conducted a site inspection to assess the Ottawa Airport's compliance with the above-noted codes of practice. Agency staff also met with airport personnel to review its policies and procedures regarding the provision of services to persons with disabilities, as required by the PTR.

Findings of the monitoring exercise

The results of the monitoring exercise show that the Ottawa Airport is compliant with the accessibility standards that were assessed.

In terms of the exterior features of the Ottawa Airport, there is signage indicating accessible parking. In addition, the airport has a clearly identified, designated area where service animals can be relieved, which is also identified on the airport's Web site. Airport staff and volunteers are informed about the location of the relieving area and trained to assist people who use service animals.

The entrance and exit doors in the departures and arrivals areas are automatic sliding doors that provide easy access for everyone, including persons with mobility disabilities. Additionally, airport telephones to allow passengers to obtain information or request assistance are positioned near entrances and exits, and wheelchairs are available throughout the airport.

In terms of the interior features, while the Ottawa Airport is mandated by its land lease to use the National Building Code of Canada 2010 (National Code) as its standard, it also complies with the Canadian Standards Association's Accessible Design for the Built Environment (B651), which is the standard that the Agency references in Section 1 of the Terminal Code. In addition, the Ottawa Airport follows the Ontario Building Code to exceed the standards of the National code, where possible, to provide better accessibility to persons with disabilities.

While the airport's signage already complies with the Agency standards set out in the Communication Code, the Ottawa Airport is in the process of further improving and updating its signage to provide better contrast between the background and the text and to further reduce glare. The symbols used on signage are also being reviewed to ensure the most informative symbols available are being used in order to avoid confusion.

The Ottawa Airport's washrooms are compliant with the B651 standards referenced in the Agency's Terminal Code; for example, they have accessible features such as automatic faucets and soap dispensers and at least one designated accessible stall. Additionally, the airport is reviewing the accessibility of its washrooms with a view to exceeding the standards and further improving their accessibility. In addition to providing accessible stalls, the airport has also installed priority signs on these stalls to ensure that they are available to persons with disabilities who require them.

Seating is generally available along pathways and in areas where there can be long waiting periods. The airport is currently reviewing the location of seating throughout the terminal and will add more seating, where space and safety permits, for passengers with mobility difficulties who are unable to walk long distances without resting. In addition, the airport has designated seating for persons with disabilities at boarding gates and departure areas within viewing distance of communication boards and/or personnel. This seating is identified by the universal symbol of access: a blue square with a white wheelchair icon.

Several wayfinding measures have been incorporated throughout the airport, such as colour and tactile contrasting in flooring materials to assist persons in making their way through the airport. In addition, the Ottawa Airport will be looking into alternate wayfinding measures that use technology (for example, RFIDNote 1 or BluetoothNote 2) to interact with smart phones.

Arrangements for accessible ground transportation can be made at a staffed desk located at the main entrance and the airport's Web site provides contact information for the companies that serve the airport.

A recent periodic facility inspection done by Agency staff confirmed that the Ottawa Airport complies with the applicable provisions of the PTR. The airport has an up-to-date training plan to ensure that employees and contractors who interact with the public or make decisions about the carriage of persons with disabilities are trained to an appropriate level for the requirements of their jobs.


The Ottawa Airport demonstrated a very strong commitment to meeting, and exceeding where possible, the accessibility standards in the Terminal Code, the Communication Code, and the PTR. It is aware of its responsibilities in respect to the Agency's regulations and codes of practice and has put significant effort into ensuring that its services are accessible. Moreover, the Ottawa Airport has expressed a commitment to look for opportunities to further improve accessibility as part of its renovations and to ensure that all passengers, including those with disabilities, have equal access to its facilities.

Future action

The Agency will continue to monitor the accessibility of the federal transportation system to ensure that passengers with disabilities can travel without encountering undue obstacles to their mobility.

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