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Fri, Apr 28, 2023

Amendments Proposed to Canada Transportation Act

Ottawa by Way of Mudville

On 24 April 2023, Canada’s Minister of Transportation, the Honorable Omar Alghabra, announced that proposed amendments to the Canada Transportation Act had been introduced as part of Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act.

If codified, subject amendments would, ostensibly, strengthen Canada’s passenger rights regime, streamline the processes for administering air travelers’ complaints before the Canadian Transportation Agency, and increase air carriers’ accountability.

In 2019, for the first time in Canada’s history, an air passenger rights regime dubbed the Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR) was implemented. The regulations inherent the legislation clarified minimum requirements and compensation. During COVID, the Canadian government strengthened the rights granted by the APPR, to include refunds for cancellations and long delays in situations outside airlines’ control, including major weather events or a pandemic.

The newly-proposed amendments to the Canada Transportation Act would, in part, allow the Canadian Transportation Agency to modify its regulations to:

  • Make compensation mandatory for all disruptions, unless said disruption was caused by very limited circumstances specifically defined by regulation.
  • Remove exemptions to air carriers’ compensation obligations based on broad categories of disruptions (e.g., disruptions outside/within the control of airlines or required for safety).
  • Make standards of treatment, such as the provision of food and water, mandatory for all flight disruptions.
  • Establish requirements for delayed baggage and prescribe parameters pertaining to refund requirements resultant of travel advisories issued by Canada’s Government.

The proposed amendments would also:

  • Replace the current protocols by which travel complaints are resolved—which prescribe an adjudication process by Governor in Council-appointed members—with a simplified process conducted primarily by Canadian Transportation Agency staff to ensure travelers receive quicker decisions.
  • Impose a greater burden of proof on air carriers in such instances as presumption that compensation is payable to a complainant is generally agreed upon, unless the air carrier proves otherwise.
  • Require air carriers to establish internal processes for resolving air travel claims.
  • Broaden the authority of the Canadian Transportation Agency to set fees and charges to recover costs—its own and those of travelers.
  • Enhance the Canadian Transportation Agency’s enforcement powers with respect to the air transportation sector by allowing the Agency to increase the maximum amount of administrative monetary penalties applicable to the APPR for corporations, and by providing the Agency with the authority to enter into compliance agreements with air carriers.

Following royal assent of the Budget Implementation Act, the Canadian Transportation Agency would wield the authority to initiate the regulatory process to amend the APPR in consultation with the Minister of Transport. On the day the Budget Implementation Act receives royal assent, the Canadian Transportation Agency would commence resolving complaints through the new resolution process.



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