‘I’m furious’: Chief accessibility officer’s wheelchair left in Toronto by Air Canada flight

Stephanie Cadieux. Twitter / @Stephanie4BC

Canada’s chief accessibility officer says her wheelchair was left in Toronto after she boarded an Air Canada flight over the weekend, describing the experience as “unacceptable.”

Stephanie Cadieux said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that the airline had forgotten her wheelchair. She posted a photo of herself waiting in front of an Air Canada service desk in a replacement wheelchair.

Cadieux left Toronto on Friday and arrived at the Vancouver airport without her wheelchair.

“I’m now without my essential equipment,” Cadieux said. “Independence taken away. I’m furious. Unacceptable.”

Cadieux is Canada’s first chief accessibility officer, having been appointed in May 2022. She was a member of B.C.’s legislature from 2009 to 2022 and has held several ministerial positions.

Air Canada told Cadieux in a response on X that it is “certainly not the level of service we strive to provide” and asked for more information.

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Several hours later, Air Canada said on X again that her wheelchair was expedited and in transit.

“We’re deeply sorry and want to discuss this with you. Accessibility is a priority; we’re investigating internally as part of our commitment to do better,” the airline wrote.

In an updated statement, Cadieux said since posting about her experience on social media she has received an overwhelming response.

“Not surprisingly to me, many of the responses to my tweet were from people sharing that the same thing had happened to them, with no quick resolution,” she said.

“My job title as Chief Accessibility Officer should not influence the experience I have when I fly,” she continued. “Every person with a disability who entrusts their wheelchair to an airline should expect, and be granted the same service. We are all customers.”

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Cadieux noted although her wheelchair has been damaged several times during air travel, she has never seen it not arrive at all at her destination.

“This experience was a visceral reminder of why I do the work I do, why so many advocates are working so hard for change, and why it matters so much,” Cadieux said.

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