Chair and CEO, Canadian Transportation Agency
Smoothly and efficiently moving people from one place to another is key to the prosperity and social well-being of every country, and none more so than Canada.
How we do so is changing. Evolving needs and expectations — economic, environmental, and safety-related — are spurring innovation across all transportation sectors.
One area where this is especially true is accessibility.
Twenty-two percent of Canadians have a disability (Statistic Canada, 2017), and this number is growing as the population ages. People with disabilities want and need to travel — to do business, see new places, or visit family and friends — just as much as those without disabilities.
Barrier-free travel isn’t a privilege. It’s a fundamental right.
The Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) helps ensure that this right is realized. Our vision is for Canada’s national transportation system to be the most accessible in the world.
Getting there requires innovation in many areas.
We need to start with cutting-edge rules and standards. That’s why, through its Regulatory Modernization Initiative, the CTA recently integrated two regulations and six voluntary codes of practice into a single, robust, modern regulatory framework for accessible transportation.
We also have to leverage technology to sweep away barriers. From reservation websites that are compatible with screen readers used by visually impaired Canadians to pathfinding systems that help deaf travellers navigate airports to new securement methods that allow wheelchairs to be safely stored on planes and trains, there are countless innovations, both proven and emerging, that can make travel more accessible.
And we can foster the conditions for creative thinking by having a range of stakeholders — at both the national and international levels — sit together for frank, constructive dialogue and collaboration aimed at identifying and implementing practical measures that improve accessibility.
Working together and drawing on the insights and ingenuity of people with disabilities, transportation service providers, regulators, engineers, coders, and others, we can develop innovations that make sure no one is left behind because they have a disability.
In a country whose core values include human equality, dignity, and inclusion, that’s a goal that should move all of us toward action.