Canada's NDP


November 21st, 2023

Canada's NDP takes on big airlines for their treatment of persons with disabilities

OTTAWA – NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach and NDP disability and inclusion critic Bonita Zarrillo are holding the Liberal government to account for Canadian airlines’ treatment of persons with disabilities in the wake of a flood of stories involving discriminatory and unacceptable treatment.

On Monday, Bachrach's motion unanimously passed at Transport committee to call the CEOs of Air Canada and WestJet, the Minister of Transport and other government officials to testify before the committee in a study of inaccessibility within the air sector.

“We’ve heard apologies, we’ve heard commitments to do better, but the government is in a position to ensure this never happens again by strengthening the regulations governing airlines and other parts of the air transport sector," said Bachrach. "We hope the committee's hearings will shed light on the specific changes that are needed."

“No one should be forced to drag themselves off a plane because the airline doesn’t have the equipment, or staff trained, to keep passengers safe,” said Zarrillo. “We need to see real accountability with these airlines and since the Liberal government isn’t stepping up, New Democrats are.”

Zarrillo passed a similar motion at the Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities on November 8 to call the CEO of Air Canada to answer for several recent violations related to persons with disabilities, including an instance when a when a passenger had to drag himself off an Air Canada flight after being refused a wheelchair. Air Canada later admitted its actions violated Canada's disability regulations.

But after years of watching big airlines mistreat Canadians, especially Canadians living with disabilities, the Liberals haven’t acted. Instead, they’ve let big CEOs off the hook, just like the Conservatives did before them.

“Instances of discrimination are not rare for passengers with disabilities. In the past several weeks alone, there have been numerous high-profile stories of passengers with disabilities being mistreated on Air Canada flights, one in which a person’s wheelchair was lost by the airline, one in which the person was dropped repeatedly by staff when they denied using a lift to move him, and the Liberals haven’t stepped up,” said Bachrach. “This isn’t right, and New Democrats are getting to the bottom of what’s been going on so that no one else suffers while travelling.”