Canada’s chief accessibility officer has a message for Air Canada after her wheelchair was left behind in Toronto following a flight to Vancouver: “do better.”

In an image posted to X, formerly Twitter, Stephanie Cadieux is seen sitting in a replacement wheelchair in front of an Air Canada service desk in what appears to be the baggage claim area.

“Well. @AirCanada left my chair in Toronto. I’m now without my essential equipment. Independence taken away. I’m furious. Unacceptable,” Cadieux wrote in the early Saturday morning post.

The post has garnered more than half a million views, nearly 3,000 likes, 691 retweets, and 290 responses.

At least two of those responses are from Air Canada itself, the first of which reads “that is certainly not the level of service we strive to provide!!”

“Your chair has been expedited and in transit; we're deeply sorry and want to discuss this with you,” the flag-carrier airline said in a second response to the post.

CTV News Toronto reached out to Cadieux for an interview about her experience but did not receive a response.

However, in a follow-up post to LinkedIn on Monday, Cadieux addressed the incident head on, calling Air Canada’s actions “immensely frustrating and dehumanizing.”

“While I’m glad I’ve been able to draw attention to this issue, I don’t want the continued focus to be on my experience. 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 wrote.

Cadieux said Air Canada has since returned her chair.

“We have apologized and remain in contact with her to discuss her concerns related to this very upsetting situation, as we recognize mobility devices are vital to their users,” an Air Canada spokesperson said in a statement to CTV News Toronto.

Cadieux is Canada’s first chief accessibility officer and began a four-year term in May of 2022. Before that, the career politician was a member of B.C. legislature since 2009 and held a number of ministerial positions between 2010 and 2012.

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

Cadieux said currently, there are no consequences for airlines in Canada who display this type of “neglect” and that the person living with a disability is left stranded as a result.

“Airlines have to take responsibility and they have to do better,” she said.

Responses to Cadieux’s LinkedIn post include one from Maayan Ziv, a Toronto-based entrepreneur and accessibility advocate, whose own wheelchair was damaged on an Air Canada flight in 2022.

“Our mobility devices are extensions of our bodies. The dehumanizing experiences we have both had, as well as countless others, are the results of ongoing and systemic discrimination,” Ziv wrote.

In a report by the country’s auditor general earlier this year, it was found that nearly two thirds of the 2.2 million Canadians with a disability who used federally regulated transportation, like planes and trains, in 2019 and 2020 encountered barriers.

"It's frustrating enough to land after a flight only to find that your luggage didn't make it," auditor general Karen Hogan said in March.

"Now consider the impact when that missing cargo is not your toothbrush or change of clothes, but your wheelchair -- and without it, you are unable to move around independently."

While the report noted accessibility improvements had been made at Via Rail and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority in recent years, it said that serious gaps still remain.

Cadieux meanwhile said she would continue to have conversations with airlines and the air travel sector to push for accessible solutions. 

AG Accessible Transportation Report