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Canada: Public consultations on Transportation Modernization Act being readied

The Canadian Transportation Agency is preparing to launch an online consultation process after Bill C-49, otherwise known as the Transportation Modernization Act, is made into law.

The Canadian Transportation Agency is an independent regulator that is tasked with setting out rules and resolving issues relating to air, rail, and marine transportation.

Its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Scott Streiner, said the organization has plans to stage in-person, daylong consultations in eight cities across the country. These include Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, Vancouver and Yellowknife.

The organization will also arbitrarily survey passengers at 11 different airports, a move he explained would help widen the reach of the consultation process.

“We know that these issues are very much on the minds of many Canadians. There is a high degree of public interest in setting the new rules into place, so we wanted to make sure we have enough time to get lots of input, but also wrap up the consultation so we can start drafting regulations,” Streiner said.

These developments come as the federal government’s comprehensive transportation legislation makes its way through Senate readings and moves closer to law. Bill C-49 was recently pushed for second reading debate, although a vote on the legislation is not expected until the week of November 20.

The consultations would be launched a few days after the bill is made into law, and Streiner expressed the hope to have regulations that particularly state standards of treatment and compensation for passengers over flight delays, cancellations and denied boarding before the end of 2018.

Canada’s Transport Minister Marc Garneau has emphasized that Bill C-49 would guarantee that people who buy flight tickets cannot be forced off a plane due to overbooking. Last week, the head of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) expressed that there is “absolutely no need to regulate overbooking.”

But Streiner said he projects overbooking to be a significant talking point during the consultation process and that it will be important for the CTA to strike a fair balance when it comes to finding the right regulations and compensation levels.

“My sense is that if we can get to a framework which essentially ensures that nobody is involuntarily bumped because of overbooking, that that may be where the reasonable balance lies,” Streiner remarked.

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