Canadians can have their say on air passenger protection as the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) develops new regulations.
The CTA will be holding an in-person consultation in Yellowknife this Friday, June 22 at Quality Inn & Suites in Yellowknife.
“We thought it was important to go to Yellowknife because we know that air travel is especially important to communities in the North, given how dispersed the population is and the distances,” says Scott Streiner, Chair and CEO of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA).
“And we also know that air travel has some unique realities in the North. The planes tend to be smaller, the Canadian weather challenges are sometimes even more significant in the North than they are elsewhere. So we thought it was important to go to Yellowknife and we really hope that folks will come out for the consultation session on Friday,” Streiner said.
What is the consultation about?
New provisions of the Canada Transportation Act, added by the recently-passed Transportation Modernization Act, mandate the CTA to develop regulations setting out airlines’ obligations.
“On May the 23rd a new bill got royal assent, came into force, which changed the Canada Transportation Act and gave the Canadian Transportation Agency the authority to make air passenger protection regulations,” said Streiner.
This is the first time in Canada that there will be a common set of binding requirements that will apply to all airlines, all passengers travelling to, from and within Canada, Streiner explained.
“C-49 included a lot of provisions, a lot of changes to the Canada Transportation Act, but in the area of air passenger protection, it established authority for the CTA to make these regulations in a number of specific areas,” said Streiner.
“So we’re to make regulations with respect to flight delays and cancellations, with respect to denied boarding, lost or damaged bags, the seating of children near their parents, tarmac delays over three hours and the regulations will also include a requirement that airlines have terms and conditions for transporting musical instruments. ”
For most of these categories, the law states that the regulations should prescribe minimum standards of treatment. For several (flight delays or cancellations within the airline’s control, denied boarding within the airline’s control, and lost or damaged baggage), the law also provides for minimum levels of compensation.
Streiner said the public consultations are being held in eight cities across Canada to give people the opportunity to provide input on what should be in the regulations.
“We thought it was important first of all, to get started quickly with the consultations because we know folks wanna see these rules in place as soon as possible,” said Streiner.
“Folks can also give us their input through website airpassengerprotection.ca, where they’ll find a questionnaire as well as a link they can use to send in written submissions.”
The consultation process will continue for the next three months.
“Bill c-49 got royal assent on May 23rd, we launched the consultation process on May 28th so it will wrap up on August the 28th. The in-person consultation sessions will finish in early July,” Streiner said.
The website will remain live and collect feedback until the end of August. Once the consultation process is over, CTA will take some time to go over all the input they’ve received.
“And then on the basis of all that, we’ll draft the regulations,” said Streiner.
Once the regulations are drafted, they have to be approved by two different entities; the CTA itself, and also by the federal cabinet.
“I can’t give you a specific date as to when the regulations will be in force because that depends in part on the amount of input we get but it’ll be a matter of months, not years,” Streiner said.
People are being asked to register in advance, so organizers can get a sense of how many people are going
There will also be a call-in consultation session on July 5th.
“So people who prefer to give us their feedback verbally or aren’t able to make it out on Friday can sign up for that call-in session and we will be on the line and we’d be happy to take their input that way, ” said Streiner.
The consultation process will continue until August 28, 2018. Once it concludes, all the input received will be considered and the new regulations will be drafted. The regulations will require approval from both the CTA and the Governor in Council to come into force.