FAQs: Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations

Table of contents


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

One of the Canadian Transportation Agency's (CTA) core mandates is to protect the human right of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network.

On May 26, 2016, the CTA launched a Regulatory Modernization Initiative (RMI) to review and modernize the full suite of regulations it administers, including all accessibility regulations and related voluntary measures.

The Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations (ATPDR) will help do this by creating a set of clear, consistent, legally binding accessibility requirements for all types of federally-regulated transportation.   

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

The ATPDR will replace two regulations and six voluntary codes of practice. The codes of practice, in particular, are outdated and are not legally binding. The new regulations, in contrast, create a single, robust, and legally binding set of accessible transportation regulations.

service providers that do not meet the accessibility requirements set out in these regulations will face clear consequences, including Administrative Monetary Penalties (AMPS).


Q3. Did the CTA consult on these regulations?

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, for a two-year period from 2016 to 2018 and as part of 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.

Q4. Have there been changes between the pre-publication in CGI and the final regulations?

Yes, the CTA considered all comments received during the consultations and determined that some changes would be appropriate in order to ensure the regulations are robust, clear, and account for operational realities. Some of the key changes include:

  • adding a provision to require a transportation service provider to publish a notice, including on its website, that it is subject to the provisions of the ATPDR;
  • clarifying that services must be provided in a manner that preserves the dignity of a person with a disability and that personnel must receive training on human rights principles;
  • clarifying a previous provision, which gave a carrier the right to require up to 96 hours' advance notice to provide certain services needed due to the nature of a person's disability, by setting out this can only be exercised in situations where additional information or documentation is needed in order to assess a person's request for an accessibility service;
  • clarifying that an airline is not required to have an accessible feature or equipment in an aircraft if the feature or equipment is not available; and
  • clarifying buffer zone requirements for persons with severe allergies by adding definitions for 'severe allergy' and 'bank of seats'.

Q5.How long will it take for the new regulations to be implemented?

The majority of the requirements will come into force June 25, 2020. More complex technical requirements, such as those relating to self-serve kiosks, will be phased in over three years to ensure that they can be smoothly implemented.

Q6. What happens to passengers until the new regulations come into force?

Until the new regulations are in effect, the current accessibility standards set out in the CTA's two regulations and six codes of practice continue to apply, and the CTA is here to help passengers with accessibility issues that cannot be resolved directly with transportation service providers. Accessibility complaints can be filed through an online form.


Q7. What are some of the new requirements for transportation service providers?

The ATPDR include requirements relating to accessible services, transportation equipment and technology, and communications and training in respect of operations by carriers and terminals in all modes of transportation, as well as operations of CATSA and the CBSA. The ATPDR also ensure requirements are enforceable through administrative monetary penalties (AMPS). For more detailed information consult the CTA's Backgrounder – Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

Q8. 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; and
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.

Q9. Why don't the regulations cover small carriers and terminals?

Small carriers and terminals, including those in northern, regional and remote areas of Canada often have unique operating circumstances or infrastructure limitations to take into consideration when developing regulations. In fall 2019, the CTA will launch consultations on a second phase of accessibility regulations to cover accessibility requirements for small carriers and terminals.

At the same time, in line with the new Accessible Canada Act, the CTA will begin consultations on planning and reporting obligations for both large and small carriers. 

The goal is for these additional regulations to be published within two years. In the meantime, small carriers and terminals continue to be subject to CTA oversight under Part V of the Act, the Personnel Training Regulations and the Air Transportation Regulations, and the codes of practice.

Q10. How will passengers know which are large and small carriers and terminals?

Large carriers and terminal operators in all modes of transportation that are subject to the phase 1 regulations are required to publish, including on their websites, a notice that they are subject to the regulations and the provisions that apply to them.

Q11. How will the new requirements be enforced?

The CTA is responsible for enforcing the ATPDR. Transportation service providers will be required to start complying with most of the new provisions as of June 25, 2020.

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 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.

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

The Act promotes accessibility by amending the Canada Transportation Act (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 once it is in force. For example, administrative monetary penalties of up to $250,000 can be levied for a violation of the regulation.

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

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

Q13. What will be included in phase 2 of the regulatory development regarding accessibility?

A number of key accessibility-related issues were raised in phase 1 and will be considered for the second-stage regulatory package. Issues to be considered include:

  • new requirements for small carriers and the terminals that serve them;
  • extension of 1P1F requirements to international transportation;
  • on-board transportation of emotional support animals; and
  • planning and reporting obligations required by the Accessible Canada Act.
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