Decision No. 51-AT-R-2004
February 2, 2004
File No. U3570/01-55
In its Decision No. 210-AT-R-2003 dated April 22, 2003 (hereinafter the Decision), the Canadian Transportation Agency (hereinafter the Agency) made a determination with respect to an application by Vincenza Ronaldi concerning the level of assistance and treatment that she received from VIA Rail Canada Inc. (hereinafter VIA) during her train travel between Toronto, Ontario, and Montréal, Quebec, on June 1 and June 5, 2001, respectively.
With respect to Ms. Ronaldi's June 1, 2001 trip, the application pertained to her treatment upon arrival at Toronto Union Station for check-in and the conditions of the alternate access route to the train platform.
Concerning Ms. Ronaldi's June 5, 2001 trip, the application pertained to her on-board treatment upon her arrival at Toronto, the conditions of the access route to the freight elevator to transport Ms. Ronaldi and her scooter, the conditions of the freight elevator and the assistance she received.
In the Decision, the Agency determined that the conditions of the access route, the level of assistance to Ms. Ronaldi and the treatment of VIA personnel towards her on June 1 and June 5, 2001, constituted undue obstacles to her mobility.
Pursuant to the Decision, VIA was directed to take the following corrective measures within thirty (30) days from the date of the Decision:
- issue an advisory bulletin to all personnel highlighting the incident experienced by Ms. Ronaldi both in terms of the lack of sensitivity demonstrated by its personnel in the provision of service and lack of dignified access to the freight elevator on the date in question. The bulletin should also highlight to booking and reservation personnel the importance of communicating information concerning check-in times and accessibility features.
- advise the Agency on what steps or procedures VIA will implement to ensure that when the freight elevator is to be used as an alternative means of access, it is prepared to provide a dignified means of accessibility to persons with disabilities.
The issue to be addressed is whether VIA has complied with the requirements of Decision No. 210-AT-R-2003.
On May 22, 2003, VIA filed its response to the Decision. In this response, VIA provided the Agency with a memorandum that had been sent to VIA employees reminding them that:
- Ticket office employees are to ensure to communicate to the passenger VIA's pre-boarding policy and remind the passenger to arrive at the station at least an hour prior to departure. Also, when making a reservation, employees are to ensure that the appropriate special service request is made.
- Station and on-board employees are to ensure to follow VIA's policy as per training guide: Providing Assistance to customer in wheelchair. The memorandum also instructed VIA staff to remember the following approach: Take the time; Ask, do not assume; Listen attentively; Know the person's needs.
In its response, VIA also stated that it had been informed that there would be three passenger elevators operating in Union Station that would accommodate scooters and provide access to platforms used by VIA. VIA stated that as soon as the third elevator, which was under construction, is operational, VIA will instruct personnel that the freight elevator must not be used.
Further clarifications were sought by Agency staff in a letter dated May 27, 2003. In particular, staff noted that VIA's response did not address the inappropriate conditions of the freight elevator and the access route to this elevator when it was used as an alternative means of access to the train platform, nor did the response address the particulars of the lack of sensitivity experienced by Ms. Ronaldi.
Agency staff also requested that VIA explain, where it is necessary to use the freight elevator, the steps taken to ensure that it is prepared in advance to provide a dignified access to the station platform.
On December 23, 2003, VIA filed its response to the May 27, 2003 letter.
In its response, VIA stated that all three passenger elevators serving train platforms are now operating. VIA also stated that the freight elevator has been cleaned and painted and remains available if the passenger elevators fail to operate for any reason.
VIA also provided the Agency with a copy of a memorandum dated June 20, 2003, to all Toronto station personnel on the subject of assistance to persons with disabilities.
The memorandum highlighted the service problems incurred by Ms. Ronaldi as they pertained to her treatment upon her arrival at the Toronto Union Station at check-in time.
In the memorandum, VIA also highlighted the service problems as they pertained to the conditions of the alternate access route, the conditions of the freight elevator and the assistance provided to Ms. Ronaldi while she was proceeding on the access route.
ANALYSIS AND FINDINGS
The Agency has reviewed VIA's responses of May 22, 2003, and December 23, 2003, and is of the opinion that VIA has complied with the corrective measures of Decision No. 210-AT-R-2003.
The Agency notes that the memorandum sent by VIA to its telephone sales office (TSO), ticket office, station and on-board personnel that was provided in its May 22, 2003 response highlights the importance of communicating information concerning check-in times and accessibility features.
The Agency notes that the memorandum sent by VIA to all Toronto station personnel dated June 20, 2003, highlights the incident experienced by Ms. Ronaldi, both in terms of the lack of sensitivity demonstrated by its personnel in the provision of service and the lack of dignified access to the freight elevator on the date in question.
The Agency notes that VIA advised that all passenger elevators serving train platforms are now operating. Also, VIA advised that the freight elevator has been cleaned and painted. In addition, the Agency notes that the freight elevator, when used as an alternative means of access, should provide a dignified means of accessibility to persons with disabilities.
The Agency is therefore of the opinion that VIA has taken concrete steps to improve the provision of services to persons with disabilities and their mobility aids.
In light of the foregoing, the Agency is satisfied that the action taken by VIA will help prevent the recurrence of incidents similar to those experienced by Ms. Ronaldi. Accordingly, the Agency does not contemplate any further action in this matter.