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‘We can’t treat a wheelchair like a luggage,’ Canada aims to improve air travel for passengers with disabilities


The Canadian government is addressing issues and solutions to help people with disabilities have a more consistent travel experience without hassle. 

On Thursday, the country held its first National Air Accessibility Summit in Ottawa to address mishaps that may occur during air travel to passengers with disabilities and met with solutions.

The Minister of Transport Pablo Rodriquez co-led the summit along with the Minister of Diversity, Inclusions and Persons with Disabilities Kamal Khera. They discussed barriers Canadians with disabilities still face while travelling. 

According to a news release, the summit allowed for productive discussions about:

  • removing barriers faced by persons with disabilities when travelling by air;
  • identifying solutions to help ensure a more consistent travel experience for all; and
  • reporting on progress since the coming into force of the Accessible Canada Act and the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

During opening remarks at the Ottawa summit, Rodriquez said, “We can’t treat a wheelchair like luggage. It simply isn’t luggage.”

Khera also said after the meeting, “It was a very open and robust discussion and I think to the credit of the industry, I think they realized and they saw that there needs to be changes to be made.”

“There’s no one airline, there’s no one airport, there is no one person that is going to be able to fix this issue, it’s incumbent upon all of us to do this work together,” Khera added. 

The discussions resulted in the following commitments: 

  • All partners agreed to seek out ways to ensure seamless travel for persons with disabilities, to make air travel more inclusive and enjoyable for all;
  • Industry will work together to streamline processes and adopt a common medical form for passengers with disabilities to simplify their travel preparation and as well as explore ways to collect and share data with Government representatives; and
  • The Government of Canada will take a leadership role with international partners to promote better passenger experiences for persons with disabilities.

The Government of Canada and airline executives also committed to work further to enhance accessible travel for passengers with accessibility needs. 



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