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Northern B.C. MP wants better protection for air passengers

“My bill aims to protect passengers, not airlines."
The Prince George Airport.

A Northern B.C. MP has brought a private member’s bill to the House of Commons to protect air passengers from  travel chaos.

NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach, the MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley, is proposing changes to Canada's air passenger protections that would close loopholes, shift the burden of proof, increase fines and make compensation automatic for travelers whose flights are delayed or cancelled.

“Canadians have weathered two busy travel seasons marred by chronic flight delays and cancellations, while Canada's weak passenger protections have largely let airlines off the hook,” said Bachrach in a reelase. “When Canadians' flights are delayed, their compensation shouldn't be. But people are having to wait more than 18 months for the government to hear their complaints, let alone deliver compensation. Clearly, the Liberals' approach isn’t protecting people -- it’s protecting the big airlines.”

Bachrach says the Canadian Transportation Act -- the law on which the Liberals’ Air Passenger Protection Regulations are built -- has a loophole that causes confusion and allows airlines to avoid paying people. As a result, the Canadian Transportation Agency has a growing backlog of over 42,000 passenger complaints, which the agency has said will take over 18 months to clear.

“My bill aims to protect passengers, not airlines. It would bring Canada's passenger protections up to the standard set in Europe over a decade ago. New Democrats want to see passengers treated fairly, and we're going to keep pushing until that's a reality.”

Bachrach's bill is supported by the consumer advocacy organizations Air Passenger Rights, Public Interest Advocacy Centre and Option Consommateurs.