Canada – Legislation

Canada is a federal system, comprised of ten provinces and three territories. With the exception of Quebec, all Canadian provincial jurisdictions are “common-law”. Quebec has a civil law system.

The responsibility for matters relating to aviation in Canada rests with the Federal Minister of Transport (the “Minister”). The Minister exercises his authority over aviation in Canada through two principal statutes.

The Aeronautics Act applies to all aeronautical products, facilities and services including airports. The statute enables the Minister to enact the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) which are overseen and enforced by Transport Canada, a department of the Federal Government.

The CARs regulate:

  • operational standards;
  • the accreditation and licencing of aviation personnel;
  • the oversight of design, manufacture and distribution of aviation products;
  • the certification of air carriers;
  • the certification of airports;
  • the classification and use of airspace;

and, generally, the application in Canada of the Convention on International Civil Aviation.

Under the Aeronautics Act, the Minister has particular responsibility for aviation security, pursuant to which he has enacted the Canadian Aviation Security Regulation 2012 which governs passenger screening and airport and aircraft security measures.

The Canada Transportation Act sets out the mandate of the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA), a quasi-judicial body, with primary jurisdiction over matters related to the economic regulation of air carriers. The Act enables the CTA to enact the Air Transportation Regulations (ATRs).

Under the Canada Transportation Act, the CTAs duties include:

  • Administering a licensing regime designed to ensure that publicly-available air services operating within Canada are Canadian-owned, and that all publicly-available air services operating within or to and from Canada have appropriate liability insurance. This system also ensures that applicants are financially fit when they start operations and have a reasonable chance of success. The requirements help minimize disruptions in service and protect consumers.
  • Administering a permit system for international charter operations to ensure the protection of advance payments received by airlines in respect of international passenger charter flights originating in Canada.
  • Administering an enforcement program (through periodical inspections and investigations on alleged violations) to ensure ongoing compliance with the provisions of the Canada Transportation Act, the Air Transportation Regulations and the Personnel Training for the Assistance of Passengers with Disability Regulations, as they apply to publicly available air carriers and other transportation service providers.
  • Acting as the Canadian aeronautical authority on matters related to the economic regulation of air carriers.
  • Participating in the negotiation of air transportation agreements between Canada and other countries.
  • Administering international air tariffs to ensure that bilateral agreements are implemented fairly, while balancing the interests of all parties.
  • Resolving complaints related to an air carrier’s application of the terms and conditions of carriage set out in its tariff to ensure that air carriers licensed to operate services to, from or within Canada meet the legislative requirements in place to protect air travel consumers.
  • Resolving complaints related to the unreasonableness of passenger fares or cargo rates applied by carriers for travel within Canada on routes on which there is no or limited competition or to the failure to give proper notice to discontinue or reduce certain domestic services in order to ensure that air carriers licensed to operate within Canada meet the legislative requirements in place to protect air travel consumers.
  • Ruling on appeals of new or revised air navigational charges imposed by NAV CANADA to ensure that principles used to establish them are in compliance with the legislation.
  • Ordering air carriers to remove undue obstacles to the mobility of persons with disabilities.

In Canada, no person can operate an air service without:

  1. a licence issued by the CTA under the Canada Transportation Act; and
  2. an Operating Certificate issued by Transport Canada under the Aeronautics Act.



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