A Canadian organization says there has been a "huge erosion" of the travel rights of people with disabilities and that a recent story supports that claim.
World-famous violinist Itzhak Perlman recently complained about a rude staff member at Pearson Airport after he took an Air Canada flight. The disabled virtuoso uses a mobility scooter and says he had to carry his bags through the airport without assistance when the employee left him at an elevator to fend for himself.
Air Canada says it is looking into the matter.
"We find this very concerning as it is not at all representative of Air Canada's policies to take care of customers with disabilities," says spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick in a statement. "We are looking into this regrettable situation and we will be in contact with the customer to discuss this matter and offer our apologies."
Fitzpatrick goes on to say that the airline has extensive procedures in place to facilitate travel by customers requiring special assistance.
Pat Danforth, Transport Committee chair with the Council of Canadians with Disabilities, says the story is "more than disappointing, it's a shock."
At the same time, she says this is an issue that goes beyond Air Canada.
"It is a transportation issue," Danforth says.
She says that having the airline look into the situation is not going to change anything for the next disabled traveller who encounters a similar barrier.
"These kinds of barriers have to be looked in a systemic kind of way."
Her organization has been pushing the federal government to bring in better regulations.
"What we do have are codes of practice that are guidelines for transport providers to follow," Danforth says. "But they don't have the force of law unless they're taken through the complaint system, and that is really arduous on an individual."