Air Canada has been summoned by the Canadian federal government to address a series of high-profile incidents involving the airline’s mishandling of passengers with disabilities.
Canada’s Transportation Minister Pablo Rodriguez said via social media X (formerly Twitter) that he has summoned the flag carrier to meet with him and the Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities to address the series of unfortunate incidents.
Rodriguez also said that he was “horrified” to learn of another incident, referring to 49-year old Vancouver resident Rodney Hodgins, who has spastic cerebral palsy, and was forced to drag himself off an Air Canada aircraft when the carrier failed to provide wheelchair assistance.
The second incident involved Canada’s Chief Disability Officer, Stephanie Cadiuex who took to social media to share her disappointing experience after Air Canada lost her wheelchair during a cross-country flight.
During the IATA Accessibility Symposium in October 2023, Cadieux said: “Travel is central to so many of our lives. The sector needs to focus on each traveler as an individual customer. People with disabilities need to be treated humanely not as a carry-on, or wheelchair, but as a passenger.”
The third incident involved 44-year old professional standup comedian Ryan Lachance, who was flying back to Vancouver after attending a comedy festival in Halifax. When Lachance arrived in Vancouver, he did not get the expected eagle lift to transport him to his wheelchair outside the aircraft.
Instead, two airline staff tried to manually carry him to his wheelchair. In the process, Lachance was accidentally dropped on the aircraft floor, which he said bruised his back and took him days to recover from.
Rodriguez said that Air Canada must present a plan to address the problem at the meeting, adding that all Canadians must be treated with dignity and respect.