Canada's NDP


May 9th, 2024

At air accessibility summit, NDP MPs call for immediate government action


May 9, 2024

SMITHERS –On Thursday, NDP Disability and Inclusion critic Bonita Zarrillo and NDP Transportation Critic Taylor Bachrach attended the National Air Accessibility Summit, where disability activists voiced their concerns and made recommendations regarding accessibility barriers in air travel.

 “Today we heard disability advocates say their safety and dignity are at risk every time they travel by air,” said MP Zarrillo. “The Liberal minister said he has the power to intervene but prefers to leave it to corporate CEO's to manage. That hasn't worked in 20 years, and won't work now. The Liberals need to step up and protect passengers with disabilities."

Some of the main recommendations made by activists were complaint transparency from airlines; a universal, consistent system across all airlines and airports for booking and accommodation requests; accessible equipment in all areas of airplanes and airports; and the ability for persons with disabilities to access air travel without needing to provide invasive medical information.

“The community has made their concerns and next steps clear,” said MP Bachrach. “The Minister has been given a roadmap of what he has to do to respect the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities. Now the question is, will he actually listen?”

The parliamentary Transport committee recently wrapped up an investigation, brought forward by MP Bachrach, into the state of accessible air transportation for persons with disabilities after multiple instances of airlines mistreating passengers who had a disability. The study heard testimony from several activists who raised similar concerns to those raised at the summit. 

“This issue is not new; the disabled community has been raising the alarm for years,” said Bachrach. “It's clear we won't see real accountability through voluntary actions by airline CEOs and airports. In order to deliver a consistent, and safe, travel experience for people with disabilities, the government must step up with transparent data, strong regulations and proper enforcement."

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