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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Canada proposes more rights for passengers following travel disruptions

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The Canadian government declared that it intended to change its regulatory structure in order to provide passengers with better protection in the event of an air transport interruption.

The proposed amendments to the Canada Transportation Act were made public by Omar Alghabra, Canada’s minister of transportation, 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”.

Changes to the act would enable the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) to mandate standards of treatment, such as the provision of food and water, and make compensation necessary for all disruptions, excluding particular instances.

They would also remove exemptions to air carriers’ obligations. The CTA would also be able to determine the boundaries of refund requirements in the event that the Canadian government issues a travel alert and set standards for baggage-related difficulties.

“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.

When these modifications are put into effect, the CTA and Alghabra will be able to start regulatory procedures to alter the APPR, 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.

In 2019, the Canadian government established a system for aviation passenger rights. With passengers’ rights being tightened during the pandemic, the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) clarified the minimum standards and compensation for passengers in the case of flight disruption.

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