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Air Canada misplaced her stepdad’s customized wheelchair. One advocate says it is ‘not a one-off’

  • UPDATE: Hamilton’s wheelchair was returned to him in Chile by Air Canada as of Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 1 pm, based on his stepdaughter.

A Brantford, Ont., man has been stranded in Chile with out his customized wheelchair after his stepdaughter says Air Canada misplaced it.

Jim Hamilton and his spouse Kathie launched into a visit to Santiago, the Chilean capital, with Air Canada on Sunday. It is the primary journey they’ve taken since Hamilton, 63, suffered a stroke that left him utilizing a wheelchair in 2021.

However once they arrived, they are saying they have been advised the wheelchair hadn’t made the journey with them.

Hamilton’s stepdaughter, Wendy Elliott, has been making an attempt to assist them as a lot as attainable from Toronto. She advised CBC Toronto the scenario has left her feeling helpless and indignant.

“A wheelchair isn’t a bit of baggage. It is not a bit of sports activities gear. It is not an adjunct,” she stated. “He depends on it to maneuver, for his life from him. It is simply so unacceptable.”

Airline offered voucher and loaner wheelchair

After looking the Santiago airport for his wheelchair—price anyplace from $5000-$7,500, based on the household—Air Canada representatives offered Hamilton with a $300 voucher and a loaner wheelchair, Elliott stated.

However Elliott says Hamilton’s spouse is unable to soundly switch him out and in of the alternative chair as a result of he would not have the identical detachable arms as his personal, is simply too low for Hamilton and one of many foot rests is damaged.

Air Canada offered Hamilton with a alternative wheelchair after his personal did not arrive with him in Chile. Hamilton’s stepdaughter says the loaner chair is simply too low for Hamilton and one of many foot rests is damaged. (Submitted by Kathie Hamilton)

The couple was advised Air Canada would contact them the subsequent morning, however two days later, Elliott stated the airline has but to succeed in out.

The airline advised CBC Toronto in an e mail the wheelchair can be flown to Santiago late Tuesday night, including, “We totally recognize the significance of mobility units to their prospects and have processes in place to make sure they journey safely with their house owners, and we’re reviewing why that didn’t happen on this case.”

‘A systemic challenge,’ advocate says

However Hamilton’s scenario is way from an remoted incident, stated Maayan Ziv, a incapacity advocate and the CEO of accessibility app AccessNow.

Final September, CBC Toronto reported the same story that concerned Ziv’s wheelchair being broken on an Air Canada flight when she flew to an accessibility convention in Tel Aviv.

“I am sadly actually not shocked that we’re persevering with to see tales and circumstances of individuals with disabilities who’ve had their mobility units broken or misplaced,” she advised CBC Toronto.

“This can be a systemic challenge. It is not a one-off mistake.”

Accessibility advocate and AccessNow CEO, Maayan Ziv, says folks with disabilities face systemic disabilities when travelling. (Grant Linton/CBC)

Air Canada lined the price of a brand new wheelchair. However the incapacity advocate stated this was “the naked minimal” that the airline might do.

Underneath the Accessibility Canada Act, which features a part on transportation, airways are legally required to deal with folks with disabilities with dignity, respect, and equitable rights. The act additionally requires them to switch or reimburse any misplaced mobility units if it’s not recovered inside 96 hours of arrival.

“However we do not but see sufficient enamel in that laws to really maintain airways accountable,” Ziv stated.

Extra must be finished to fight ableism: advocate

Anthony Frisina, volunteer director of media relations for the Ontario Incapacity Coalition, agreed that extra must be finished on a coverage stage to fight ableism within the journey trade.

“We want correct assurances, coverage on the authorities stage,” he stated. “Ensuring that we’ve got the much-needed coverage and practices in place by giving folks with disabilities the chance to be a part of the answer.”

Frisina desires to see extra individuals who use mobility units to be a part of the decision-making on the subject of accessible journey.

As effectively, airways must be coaching their workers to have the ability to correctly look after and stow every kind of mobility units, together with wheelchairs, but in addition scooters, crutches, and walkers, Frisina stated.

He additionally burdened that asking somebody to change to a different mobility machine could be harmful.

A person with short hair and glasses speaks into a microphone on a stage.
Anthony Frisina with the Ontario Incapacity Coalition, pictured right here in 2022, says extra must be finished on a coverage stage to fight ableism within the journey trade. (Submitted by Anthony Frisina)

“It may very well be detrimental to at least one’s well being by way of switch and even, , dealing with that mobility machine as a result of it is not set to their wants,” Frisina stated.

As for Hamilton, he and his spouse have since moved onto a second location in Chile the place they’re set to depart for a cruise on Friday.

In the meantime, Elliott stated she’s been monitoring the whereabouts of Hamilton’s wheelchair on-line and hopes it was in truth on the flight scheduled for Tuesday.

If it does arrive in Santiago as deliberate, it is unclear the way it will get to Hamilton or who’s accountable for getting it there.

As a possible various the Hamiltons are hoping they may be capable to discover a appropriate rental someday within the subsequent two days.

“We’ll wait and see what the wheelchair appears to be like like when it will get there,” she stated. “Whether or not or not it is his chair that comes, whether or not or not the chair arrives in a single piece or if it is broken and even makes it to them in time continues to be to be decided.”

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