New Accessibility Standards for Canadian Ferries

North Sydney, NS - June 14, 1999 - The Canadian Transportation Agency today launched a Code of Practice on Ferry Accessibility, which will increase the mobility of persons with disabilities.

This Code is the result of consultations held with persons with disabilities, industry, and government agencies. During the launch ceremony at Marine Atlantic's terminal in Nova Scotia, Marian Robson, Chairman of the Canadian Transportation Agency, stated that "the code addresses consumer concerns." She added that "it also sets minimum accessibility standards which the industry has promised to meet."

"The Canadian Ferry Operators Association is pleased to have been able to participate in the consultation process to develop the new Ferry Code of Practice," said Bud Harbidge, President of the Canadian Ferry Operators Association. " I am confident that our industry - which already meets most of the Code's accessibility standards - will, in many instances, exceed the requirements of the Code."

The Code of Practice applies to ferries of 1,000 gross tonnes or more and which transport passengers only, or both passengers and vehicles, between provinces or territories, or between Canada and the United States.

The Code ensures equipment accessibility and offers practical and functional solutions to systemic accessibility problems encountered by persons with disabilities and seniors. For example, a ferry operator should ensure that a person who uses a wheelchair and boards a ferry can freely have access to the elevator or the elevating device.

"The Agency increasingly promotes a voluntary approach to implementing accessibility standards," explained Mrs. Robson. "In return, the Agency is committed to closely monitoring the carriers' progress in implementing the Code of Practice."

The Canadian Transportation Agency is responsible for the economic regulation of modes of transportation under federal jurisdiction. Its mandate includes ensuring that persons with disabilities have access to the transportation network without being confronted with undue obstacles.

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Information:

France Gauthier
Canadian Transportation Agency
(819) 994-0775

Ted Bartlett
Marine Atlantic
(506) 851-3611


BACKGROUNDER:

A CODE OF PRACTICE
FERRY ACCESSIBILITY FOR PASSENGERS WITH DISABILITIES
(Ferries of 1,000 gross tonnes or more)

Ferry operators providing passenger vessel services for passenger service between provinces or territories or between Canada and the United States are expected to provide enhanced equipment accessibility to travellers with disabilities. This Code of Practice details which ferry operators are covered, when and how carriers should follow the Code and what the accessibility criteria are. These criteria are summarized as follows:

All ferries of 1,000 gross tonnes or more should satisfy accessibility criteria for signage, communication of information, supplemental passenger briefing cards, lighting, stairways, handrails, corridors and passageways, floors, doorways and doors, counters, telephones, alarms, elevators, vehicle decks, passenger lounges, cafeterias, cabins, and washrooms (by January 1, 2002).

Under exceptional circumstances, operators may apply to the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) to have a vessel exempted from meeting certain equipment-related provisions of the Code. Each case will be judged on its own merit.

The Agency will conduct periodic surveys to monitor the progress on the implementation of the Code. The Agency will continue to exercise its authority to deal with individual complaints to determine whether there is an undue obstacle to the mobility of persons with disabilities.

This code was developed in cooperation with representatives of the industry (in particular, the Canadian Ferry Operators Association), consumers and other government departments.

Codes of practice are an alternative to regulations. Codes are voluntary and set the minimum national accessibility standards that the industry is expected to apply. Codes of Practice and regulations are developed to resolve systemic barriers to accessibility.

The Ferry Code of Practice is the third Code developed by the Agency. A Code of Practice for accessibility of passenger rail travel was launched in 1998 and another code for aircraft accessibility was launched in 1997.

This is only a general summary of the provisions of the Ferry Code of Practice. Please refer to the Code for the official description of the accessibility criteria.

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