A Long History of CTA Inaction in the Establishment of Accessibility Regulations

February 14, 2017

Via E-mail: president-chair@otc-cta.gc.ca

Mr. Scott Streiner
Chair and CEO
Canadian Transportation Agency
15 Eddy Street
Gatineau, Quebec J8X 4B3

Dear Mr. Streiner:

Subject: Request for a meeting

As you are aware, there has been a long history of CTA inaction in the establishment of accessibility regulations. The government's announcement of a Canadians with Disabilities Act represents an opportunity to sweep aside years of inaction and move forward, just as the Americans with Disabilities Act signaled the opportunity for systemic action and quantum leaps forward for persons with disabilities south of the border.  The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD), a national organization of people with various disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada, has been monitoring Canada's progress on accessible transportation since the 1970s.

It is CCD's position that we will go with whatever structure works to deliver enforceable accessibility regulations and actively enforces the undue obstacle jurisdiction as well as addresses new barriers in a preventive fashion. It remains very much an open question whether the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) is the body that is capable of delivering an accessible transportation network in Canada. To date, there has been neither meaningful progress nor commitments people with disabilities people can rely upon.

We are very concerned about the breaking up of the specialized Accessible Transportation Directorate unit and find it ominous. We need more expertise, not less. The Directorate was not the reason the Agency did not develop new and update old regulations. In the past, they developed draft regulations, and later guidelines, which were circulated for comment. This process is comparable to that followed in the United States when developing regulations under the Air carrier, Urban Mass Transportation and Americans with Disabilities Acts. Downsizing and diluting this expertise signals movement in the wrong direction. CCD finds the agency slow to issue regulations, even after it adjourned cases and announced a major review.

We are also concerned about the lack of progress on systemic cases in general, which supports the conclusion that the current structure isn’t working well. Presently, mediated cases have nondisclosure agreements forced upon the participants. The effect is that no information about past agreements being provided to the public. We would like cases posted on the web with names and identifying information possibly being redacted. The present process does not afford an opportunity for complainants to research what has been agreed to in the past.

At the last advisory committee meeting, VIA Rail asked for input concerning the accessibility of proposed new trains. Since CCD had to go to the Supreme Court to ensure the trains bought from Britain would be accessible, we feel it is necessary to be able to review the accessibility plans for any proposed new trains. This is particularly necessary because the Agency's Guidelines are decades old and out of date. This should be done before rather than after the fact of any possible purchase agreement. Again, VIA Rail had asked for our input but seems unwilling to share its plans. We would like this information provided, including all reports.

I am writing to request a meeting to discuss these and related matters at your earliest convenience. 


Bob Brown
CCD Transportation Committee

cc: Carla Qualtrough
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
E-mail: Carla.Qualtrough@parl.gc.ca

James van Raalte
Director General, Office for Disability Issues
E-mail: james.vanraalte@hrsdc-rhdcc.gc.ca