More often than not travelling is a pleasant experience – but things happen, and when it does you’ll want to be protected. For this reason, the Ministry of Canada Transportation has announced that they plan to update its laws to improve the rights of air passengers.

In an effort to “ensure that travellers’ rights are respected by airlines when air travel does not go according to plan,” several amendments have been proposed to change the Canada Transportation Act.

According to the government, these amendments would “strengthen Canada’s passenger rights regime, streamline the processes for administering air travel complaints before the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency), and increase air carriers’ accountability.”

Proposed changes would allow the Agency to modify its regulations to:

  • make compensation mandatory for all disruptions, unless the disruption was caused by very limited circumstances that would be specifically defined by regulations;
  • 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 around refund requirements as a result of a travel advisory issued by the Government.

In addition to this, the amendments would also:

  • replace the current process for resolving air travel complaints, which includes an adjudication process by Governor in Council-appointed members, with a more simplified process conducted primarily by Agency staff to ensure travellers get quicker decisions;
  • impose a greater burden of proof on air carriers where it is presumed that compensation is payable to a complainant unless the air carrier proves the contrary;
  • require air carriers to establish an internal process for dealing with air travel claims;
  • broaden the authority of the Agency to set fees and charges to recover its costs; and
  • enhance the 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.

“It is clear that a stronger and simpler system is needed to increase air carriers’ accountability and transparency, reduce the number of incidents referred to the Agency, and streamline the Agency’s processes for addressing travel complaints,” said The Honourable Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport.

“The proposed amendments would significantly enhance our air passenger rights regime to ensure travellers get the services and treatment they pay for and deserve.”

According to the government, new regulations are expected to be in place at the earliest opportunity following the royal assent of the Budget Implementation Act (expected as early as September 30th, 2023)The agency would also begin resolving complaints through the new resolution process at this time.

For more information about changes proposed by the Ministry of Canada Transportation, you can visit the government’s website here – otherwise, let us know what you think, Canada! Do you think this is enough? Why or why not?