The Canadian government announced that it plans to amend its laws to ensure greater protection of passengers in the event of air travel disruption.
Canadian Minister of Transport, Omar Alghabra, announced the proposed changes to the Canada Transportation Act as part of Bill C-47, the Canadian Budget Implementation Act.
According to a government announcement on April 24, 2023, the proposals “would strengthen Canada’s passenger rights regime, streamline the processes for administering air travel complaints before the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency), and increase air carriers’ accountability”.
The changes to the act would allow the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to make compensation mandatory for all disruptions, excluding specific circumstances, remove exemptions to air carriers’ obligations, and make standards of treatment, such as the provision of food and water, mandatory. Finally, the CTA would be able to establish requirements for baggage-related issues and define the parameters around refund requirements in the case of a travel advisory issued by the Canadian government.
“It is clear that a stronger and simpler system is needed to increase air carriers’ accountability and transparency, reduce the number of incidents referred to the Agency, and streamline the Agency’s processes for addressing travel complaints,” Alghabra stated.
Following the implementation of these changes, the CTA would be able to initiate regulatory processes to amend the APPR together with Alghabra, with the “new regulations are expected to be in place at the earliest opportunity”.
“As of September 30, 2023, or if it is later, as of the day on which the Budget Implementation Act receives royal assent, the Agency would begin to resolve complaints through the new complaint resolution process,” the government clarified in its announcement.
The Canadian government has allocated CAD75.9 million ($55.8 million) over the past three years to help the CTA “reduce the backlog of complaints”. The new measures would help the agency ensure passengers are treated fairly if “events like last summer and over the holiday season occur”, the announcement continued.
The Canadian government implemented an air passenger rights regime in 2019. The Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) cleared up the minimum requirements and compensation for passengers in the case of travel disruption, with passengers’ rights being strengthened during the pandemic.