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‘Shocking’: Air Canada CEO Blasted Over Accessibility Services at House Committee

A number of Canadians with disabilities have reported mistreatment by Air Canada staff in the past year Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press
Posted: Feb 05, 2024

Lawmakers took Air Canada’s CEO to task on Monday over “shocking” and “scandalous” failures to accommodate passengers living with disabilities.

At a House of Commons committee hearing on services for Canadians with disabilities, chief executive Michael Rousseau faced a barrage of questions over reports of passenger mistreatment during the past year.

Vice-chair Tracy Gray cited several “shocking” incidents from 2023: “An Air Canada passenger had a lift fall on her head and her ventilator was disconnected; Air Canada leaving Canada’s own chief accessibility officer’s wheelchair behind on a cross-Canada flight … and a man was dropped and injured when Air Canada staff didn’t use a lift as requested.”

Disability Advocates Say Air Travel Accessibility is Not Happening Fast Enough

By: Kristin Krauss
Posted Feb 05, 2024

Navigating an airport and airplane looks different for Dave Stevens. He was born without legs and uses a skateboard to get through the narrow aisles to his seat.

He’s found a way to adapt but wants airlines and the federal government to do more to make air travel accessible for everyone – especially for the more than 60 million Americans with disabilities.

“There’s no consistency with what happens when you go to the airport. Everybody has their own way of handling things. And the problem for people with disabilities is they take our equipment, they ruin it, they destroy it. I personally have had 15 wheelchairs destroyed.”

Passenger Denied Boarding Porter Flight from Calgary to Toronto Due to Wheelchair

By Adam MacVicar Global News
Posted January 22, 2024

A Toronto man’s trip home from Calgary on a Porter Airlines flight was quickly derailed Sunday after he was denied access to the plane because of his power wheelchair, even after he cleared the issue with the airline before his flight.

Ken Harrower was set to board the flight at the Calgary International Airport when he was approached by the pilot, who insisted he couldn’t board the flight with his wheelchair due to the batteries it uses.

“The pilot decided to not let me board because I cannot disconnect the batteries on my chair,” Harrower told Global News.

Air Canada Rolls Out Measures for Travellers With Hidden Disabilities

The move falls under airline’s three-year accessibility plan, and comes after numerous reports of passenger mistreatment last year. Author of the article:The Canadian Press
Published Jan 30, 2024

MONTREAL – Air Canada has adopted measures to help travellers living with non-visible disabilities, as the carrier looks to improve accessibility after reports of poor treatment last year.

The effort, an international initiative known as the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program, allows customers to wear a sunflower lanyard that indicates to staff they may need assistance or have specific needs.

Despite Legislative Progress, Accessible Cities Remain Elusive

Published: January 22, 2024
Author Ron Buliung
Professor, Department of Geography, Geomatics and Environment, University of Toronto

Amid a complex web of disability civil rights legislation in Canada and the United States, one could easily be lulled into thinking that the work is done. Some of this legislation is now several decades old; more recent additions include accessible design standards and guidelines and barrier-free elements of building codes.

But if only this were true. Watching Toronto and other cities in North America work on accessibility feels a bit like watching a snail moving through molasses: the best route is unclear, progress is slow and they often become stuck.

Air Canada Appeals Decision on Power Wheelchairs After Touting Accessibility Efforts

By The Canadian Press
Posted January 11, 2024

Air Canada has appealed a decision by the country’s transport regulator that seeks to boost accessibility for travellers living with a disability.

If successful, the move would overturn a requirement to fully accommodate passengers whose wheelchairs are too large to move into airplane cargo holds.

The Canadian Transportation Agency’s ruling marks the culmination of a case that has dragged on since 2016, when flier Tim Rose was told his power wheelchair wouldn’t fit on the aircraft, preventing him from travelling to Ohio as planned.

People With Disabilities Hope Autonomous Vehicles Deliver Independence

by Tony Leys, KFF Health News | January 3, 2024

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. – Myrna Peterson predicts self-driving vehicles will be a ticket out of isolation and loneliness for people like her, who live outside big cities and have disabilities that prevent them from driving.

Peterson, who has quadriplegia, is an enthusiastic participant in an unusual test of autonomous vehicles in this corner of northern Minnesota. She helped attract government funding to bring five self-driving vans to Grand Rapids, a city of 11,000 people in a region of pine and birch forests along the Mississippi River.

Airlines Damaged Thousands of Mobility Aids This Year: Here’s How 30+ Flyers were Affected

Zach Wichter
USA TODAY

“I fully expect my wheelchair to keep getting damaged, and it’s a fairly significant source of stress for me when I fly,” Heather Bennett told USA TODAY. Bennett is one of thousands of wheelchair users whose devices were damaged while flying in 2023 and one of more than 30 disabled travelers who shared their personal stories of such damage with USA TODAY this year.

According to the Department of Transportation, there were 8,637 reported mobility device damage incidents as of September, about 1.4% of the total number transported. Full-year data for 2023 is expected in early 2024. For comparison, by the end of September 2022, airlines had reported 8,348 incidents of mobility device damage to the DOT. While the numbers for 2023 are slightly higher so far, airlines also carried almost 75,000 more mobility devices in 2023 compared to the previous year.

Canadian Paralympic Committee Working with Airlines to Improve Conditions

Devin Heroux, CBC Sports
Posted: Dec 19, 2023

Some Canadian Para athletes as well as the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) are calling for better transportation of athletes to and from international competitions.

It comes in the wake of a number of athlete’s complaints of broken or damaged equipment, as well as recent flight delays carrying Canadians to the Parapan Am Games in Chile last month.

Those delays prompted CPC CEO Karen O’Neill to request a meeting with Air Canada, which has been one of the organization’s sponsors since 2007.

Transportation Agency Penalizes Air Canada for Violating Disabilities Regulations

By The Canadian Press
Posted Dec 21, 2023

GATINEAU, Que. – The Canadian Transportation Agency says it’s issued a $97,500 penalty to Air Canada for violating the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations.

The penalty of $97,500 is for several violations of the regulations.

The agency says that on August 30, Air Canada failed to assist a wheelchair user to disembark its plane.

The passenger, who has spastic cerebral palsy and can’t move his legs, was forced to disembark on his own.

As well, the CTA says Air Canada failed to ensure that its personnel periodically checked in on the passenger while he was waiting in the terminal.