Just a glance at recent news headlines will reveal major air travel issues affecting Canadian passengers. From unprecedented delays, to lost luggage, to disorganized conflict resolution practices, Canadian travellers have been feeling the effects of the post-pandemic travel chaos.
To combat these issues, the Ministry of Transportation announced new amendments to the Canadian Transportation Act, building off of the standards set by the 2019 Air Passenger Protection Regulations (APPR). With the aim of further defining and strengthening the rights of passengers, these changes will have a particular emphasis on compensation requirements for delays and disruptions. “The proposed amendments would significantly enhance our air passenger rights regime to ensure travellers get the services and treatment they pay for and deserve,” stated the Minister of Transportation, the Honourable Omar Alghabra, in a press release posted on Monday.
These amendments to the Transportation Act have been introduced as part of Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, which is scheduled to be put into effect by September 30th, 2023––or when the Act receives royal assent.
So what do these changes mean for Canadian passengers? Major changes will be seen in the recompense obligations for airlines, with mandatory and regulated compensation becoming required for all disruptions of service, with the exception of very limited and specific circumstances which will be defined in the regulations. These amendments will remove exemptions to air carriers compensation obligations, even in the case of circumstances beyond the control of the airline (i.e. inclement weather or other safety concerns).
Additionally, standards of treatment for passengers will be regulated, with food and water now becoming a mandatory provision for all flight disruptions. Baggage delays will also now have more strict regulations in place, with refund requirements being mandatory to establish for air carriers.
The press release also states that airlines will be held accountable to a higher degree than before, by imposing a greater burden of proof on the air carrier where it is presumed that compensation is payable to a complainant. The amendments will also require airlines to establish their own internal processes for dealing with travel air claims that follow the standards set forth by the act.
In other words: the changes to the Transportation Act will place a greater responsibility on airlines to resolve complaints with fair compensation, in a more efficient manner than what is currently the standard. These amendments will also entitle Canadian passengers to a higher quality of care and resolution through compensation for delays and disruptions of service during their travels.