We have received the following media release from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD):
For Immediate Release │November 16, 2016
CCD Says Regulations Are Necessary to Increase the Accessibility of Passenger Transportation
On Thursday, November 17, 2016 in Montreal, Bob Brown, Co-Chair of CCD’s Transportation Committee, will attend the federal government’s roundtable discussion on planned accessibility legislation, as it relates to transportation. The federal government regulates air, rail, interprovincial marine and bus transportation. Roundtable organizers want participants to identify gaps in the legal and policy environment and to suggest ways for Canada to make transportation more accessible. Among other recommendations, CCD will urge the adoption of comprehensive accessibility regulations.
In the 1990s, when Canada turned its back on binding accessibility regulations in favour of voluntary codes of practice to prevent barriers, progress in Canada toward a fully accessible transportation system became lamentably slow. The burden to remedy transportation barriers through litigation fell on people with disabilities and their organizations, such as CCD.
CCD has firsthand experience with how carriers are ignoring voluntary codes. In 2000, VIA Rail purchased and attempted to put into service inaccessible passenger rail cars, which violated the standards of the voluntary rail code. The cars purchased by VIA had been rejected by other countries that had accessibility regulations. Travelers using wheelchairs would have essentially been segregated in a sleeper compartment on the lounge car. With great risk to its continued viability, CCD went to court to challenge this violation of the human rights of travelers with disabilities. The Supreme Court of Canada sided with CCD.
“A country that is committed to human rights and accessibility does not leave it to community organizations to police the transportation industry in order to prevent carriers from violating the mobility rights of people with disabilities,” states Bob Brown, Co-Chair of the CCD Transportation Committee, who will be present at the Roundtable.
Relatedly, CCD will also call for the strengthening of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), which regulates the transportation system and protects the human rights of persons with disabilities to an accessible transportation network. For example, Canada could empower the CTA to take proactive actions to remedy barriers without a complaint first coming from a traveler with a disability. This would lead to greater system-wide change.
Another area that will be addressed concerns the federal government using its spending power to promote accessibility and universal design. To ensure that accessibility becomes a priority, CCD will urge the Federal Government to attach universal design requirements to all infrastructure spending, procurement activities and subsidies to industry.
The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) is a national organization of people with disabilities working for an inclusive and accessible Canada.