Compliance Report: Northumberland and Bay Ferries Limited

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 the federal transportation system, which includes transportation by air, rail, and extra-provincial ferry and bus. It seeks to remove such obstacles by:

  • developing regulations and codes of practice;
  • communicating with the transportation industry and the community of persons with disabilities;
  • resolving individual 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 areas where compliance has not been achieved.

As part of its regular monitoring, the Agency assessed the compliance level of Northumberland and Bay Ferries Limited (NFL), which provides ferry services between Prince Edward Island (P.E.I.) and Nova Scotia (N.S.).

This report describes the results of this monitoring.

What was assessed

The Agency assessed NFL’s compliance with certain provisions from the Code of Practice: Ferry Accessibility for Persons with Disabilities (the Ferry Code), the Code of Practice: Passenger Terminal Accessibility (the Terminal Code) and the Code of Practice: Removing Communication Barriers for Travellers with Disabilities (the Communications 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 terminals in Wood Islands, P.E.I., and Caribou, N.S., as well as the NFL’s vessels, MV Holiday Island and MV Confederation (including the accessibility of outdoor and indoor facilities at the terminals and onboard the ferries, such as rest areas, washrooms, wayfinding, etc.);
  • administrative services (e.g., how information on available services is provided either on the day of travel or on NFL’s website);
  • accessibility awareness training of staff at the terminals and on board the Holiday Island and Confederation ferries.

For more information on the areas that were monitored, please refer to the Ferry Code, the Communications Code, the Terminal Code and the PTR.

How the monitoring was done

Agency staff conducted a site inspection of NFL’s terminals and vessels to assess NFL’s compliance with the above-noted Agency codes of practice. Agency staff also examined NFL’s website and met with NFL personnel to review and discuss its policies and procedures regarding the provision of services to persons with disabilities.

Findings of the monitoring exercise

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

In terms of the exterior features of NFL’s Wood Islands and Caribou terminals, there is signage indicating accessible parking and the accessible lane for passengers to line up and park while waiting to board the ferry. Vehicles using this lane are able to park close to the elevator once onboard the ferry. Outdoor stairs and thresholds for doorways have contrasting colour tape on them and the ground has been painted to indicate curbs. Entrances to both terminals have automated doors allowing for easier access. NFL provides an electric cart service for walk-on passengers who need assistance to get from the terminal or parking area to the ferry. Both terminals have areas where service animals can be relieved.

In terms of the interior features, both terminals have seating at tables designated as accessible. Washrooms in the terminals are accessible and have designated stalls. Steps and ramps within the terminal are marked with contrasting colour tape and have handrails.

NFL demonstrated a keen interest in ensuring that the public grounds of its terminals are accessible to persons with disabilities. For example, it has decided to replace the patio tables at the Wood Islands terminal with accessible ones; i.e., tables that can be accessed by persons using wheelchairs. Additionally, at the time of the monitoring visit, NFL was completing the construction of a new, fully accessible gazebo outside its Wood Islands terminal.

Concerning NFL’s two ferries—MV Holiday Island and MV Confederation—signage onboard is well placed and easily visible. The alarm systems onboard the ferries are visual and audible. In order to allow for easier access to the public areas, vehicles that board the vessel using the accessible lane are able to park close to the elevators. Corridors and passageways are free of obstacles and have handrails throughout. The cafeteria areas have seating designated as accessible. Additionally, both ferries are equipped with onboard wheelchairs.

NFL demonstrated a strong commitment to achieving a high level of accessibility. NFL was knowledgeable of the Agency’s regulations and codes of practice and has put significant effort into its accessibility awareness training program for its employees and in ensuring that the accessibility features of its terminals and ferries are well-maintained.

Future action

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

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