Canada’s airports participate in federal government accessibility summit

May 9th, 2024

Ottawa, ON,

Today, Canada’s airports participated in the first National Air Accessibility Summited hosted by Minister of Transport, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, and federal Minister of Diversity, Inclusion and Persons with Disabilities, the Honourable Kamal Khera.

The summit includes representatives of Canada’s air sector and the nation’s disability community focusing on the passenger experience and working to identify solutions to address on-going issues. The Canadian Airports Council (CAC) is participating to collaborate and highlight the significant work underway at airports across the country.

“Air travel plays a vital role in our economy and society, fostering connectivity and driving growth,” says Monette Pasher, president of the CAC. “The CAC is committed to going beyond regulatory requirements with initiatives to improve accessibility in Canadian airports. We want all passengers to feel that they belong in Canada’s airports.”

As such CAC is developing a comprehensive five-year roadmap aimed at taking meaningful steps forward toward Canada’s goal of achieving barrier-free travel by 2040. As part of this work, CAC in collaboration with Harper Learning and Universal Access Design, has developed and just launched a new national training program for airport employees. The goal of the training is to better assist persons with disabilities throughout their travel journey.

But according to Pasher, barrier-free goes beyond programs and training and a challenge facing smaller airports is the cost to change the physical built environment in the older infrastructure they currently operate. The association sees federal government funding support as being critical to achieving this.

“The Government of Canada has a funding program, the Airports Capital Assistance Program, where eligible funding includes support for barrier-free infrastructure projects at small airports. But unfortunately, no projects have been funded in this area for nearly two decades as there is simply is not enough funding to address barrier free projects for small airports.”

Pasher says that a major challenge with this small airport program is that it is drastically underfunded at $38 million a year, an amount that has not changed for the most part in 20 years. Small airports have requested $95 million annually to help meet infrastructure needs across the country, which would include important barrier-free projects.

“Canada’s airports want to contribute to the development of concrete action items and outcomes that are achievable sooner rather than later,” says Pasher. “We can be more proactive and the summit is a great opportunity to identify tangible improvements possible in accessibility within the air travel sector and what resources are needed to make these improvements possible.”

For more information, please contact:

Monette Pasher
Canadian Airports Council