At a Senate transport committee meeting on Feb. 15, Craig Hutton, associate assistant deputy transport minister, revealed that the Canadian Transportation Agency is dealing with a backlog of up to 38,000 air complaints. He noted that 97 percent of these complaints are usually resolved through facilitation. Transport Minister Omar Alghabra then appeared before the committee, explaining that the lack of communication with passengers during winter travel issues has resulted in a large number of complaints to the agency since the summer of 2022. He also pointed out that passengers are often not informed of their rights or the compensation they are due when their flights are delayed or cancelled. The minister stated that the federal government is introducing legislation this spring to strengthen passenger protection regulations.
Michelle Greenshields, director general of the Canadian Transportation Agency’s Dispute Resolution Branch, told the House of Commons transport committee on Nov. 28, 2022, that it takes one year to process 15,000 complaints. The complaints typically involve compensation for flight issues under the Air Passenger Protection Regulations. Tom Oommen, director general of analysis at the agency, also revealed that only 1 in 5,000 passengers will issue a complaint. The regulations allow compensation such as between $400 and $1,000 for flight delays or cancellations in the case of a large carrier, between $125 and $500 for the same in the case of a small carrier, and between $900 and $2,400 for denial of boarding.
Senator Leo Housakos, chair of the Senate transport committee, stated that the problem lies in enforcement rather than legislation. He noted that the Canadian public is frustrated due to the lack of timely responses to the thousands of complaints.