Canadians with Disabilities Win Battle with VIA Rail

For Immediate Release

October 29, 2003

"The message is clear, transportation access for Canadians with disabilities cannot be ignored," said Marie White, Chairperson of CCD.

In a milestone ruling the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) confirmed that VIA's Renaissance trains do not meet the Agency's voluntary code for rail car accessibility and ordered the railway to make substantive modifications which will remove obstacles to the mobility of travellers with disabilities. The trains as they are now prevent people with disabilities from travelling.

"The winners in this case are Canadians with disabilities," said Pat Danforth, Chairperson of CCD's Transportation Committee. CTA has withstood numerous challenges from a powerful corporation and taken a stand in support of what is right-accessible transportation services. Today's decision sends a signal to other carriers-ignoring Canada's laws which uphold the equality rights of Canadians with disabilities will not be tolerated.

"Canadians with disabilities stood up to Goliath (VIA Rail) and have won the fight. The Canadian Transportation Agency has remained true to its mandate and has ordered VIA to make these cars accessible," said Eric Norman, a member of CCD's Transportation Committee.

"People with disabilities will not accept second class citizenship. We now want accessibility regulations for all federally regulated modes of transportation in order to ensure another debacle similar to the Renaissance car purchase does not occur," said Danforth.

"The Canadian Transportation Agency has ordered massive changes to the trains. This is an unprecedented ruling and people with disabilities are now assured that public services must be accessible," said David Baker, legal counsel to CCD.

The CTA decision can be found at


For more information, contact:

David Baker (416) 533-0040 ext. 222
Marie White (709) 739-8233
Pat Danforth (613) 521-3400 ext. 264
Laurie Beachell (204) 947-0303
Eric Norman (709) 256-8630