Canadian Transportation Agency Issues Decision on Allergies to Cats in Aircraft Cabins
OTTAWA – February 25, 2010 – In a decision issued today, the Canadian Transportation Agency ruled that three individuals are persons with disabilities in the context of air travel due to their allergy to cats.
After examining evidence received from the complainants as well as Air Canada, Air Canada Jazz and WestJet, the Agency found that all three complainants in this case are in effect persons with disabilities, to the extent that these air carriers' policies on the carriage of cats in aircraft cabins impact the complainants' ability to travel by air.
The Agency determines on a case-by-case basis whether an individual is a person with a disability in the context of the federal transportation network. In making today's decision, the Agency applied the World Health Organization's International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health, as well as its own framework for disability analysis. To establish their disability, the Agency requires complainants to prove that they have an impairment, as well as provide fact-based evidence of the presence of an activity limitation and a participation restriction in accessing the federal transportation network.
Today's decision means that the Agency will now examine whether the three carriers' policies of accepting cats in the aircraft cabin constitute an obstacle to the mobility of the complainants in this case – i.e., that they prevent or impede the complainants from travelling by air.
However, for reasons of efficiency and in the public interest of gathering the most relevant information possible as it relates to the air carriers' pet policies, the Agency is seeking the agreement of the parties to expand the scope of its investigation to include a thorough review of the carriers' policies on the carriage of other pets in aircraft cabins.
The Agency will gather evidence through written pleadings or an oral hearing, or a combination of both. In addition, the Agency will invite participation by organizations and individuals who have demonstrated a particular interest in the issue.
As part of its examination, the Agency will determine what it considers appropriate accommodation for the complainants, which will be based on the effectiveness of potential solutions. Should the Agency find that an obstacle exists, it will assess whether the obstacle is undue.
The Agency will only determine if corrective measures are needed in order to provide appropriate accommodation for the complainants if the obstacle to the complainants' mobility is deemed to be undue. In most cases, there will be a range of alternatives available to address the needs of a person or group with a disability. Reasonable accommodation will be the accommodation that would not cause undue hardship to the service provider. The onus is on the service provider to establish the case for undue hardship.
About the Agency
The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent tribunal which operates like a court to render decisions on a case-by-case basis. The Agency's legislative mandate with respect to persons with disabilities is found in Part V of the Canada Transportation Act, which contains a regulation-making authority and a complaint adjudication authority, both for the express purpose of removing undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities from the federal transportation network.
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