February 24, 2022

Transport Canada medicals update

Jon Robinson

— By Jim Ferrier, Director, Aviation Operations, COPA

As many of you know, Transport Canada has been experiencing challenges with processing Aviation Medicals. COPA recently had the opportunity to meet with Civil Aviation Medicine leadership to discuss the current situation.

Transport Canada recognized that there have been many delays and are working to streamline their systems and processes to process files as quickly as possible.

Civil Aviation Medicine staffing has been brought up to the maximum available to address shortages that had developed over time. CAM processes over 60,000 requests every year with a fixed number of staff so the workload is prioritized. A pilot flying for a living would be prioritized as their livelihood is dependent on the validity of their medical certificate. Like the saying “Aviate, Navigate, Communicate”, communications have been prioritized accordingly.

IT systems supporting the medical process at TC need updating. As staff have moved to a virtual work environment, the systems do need a digital transfer of information. This takes time and the COVID lockdown hasn’t helped to expedite that process. Paper inputs like regular mail and fax need to be manually sorted and scanned into systems to be available for processing which was nearly impossible during lockdown. This added to wait times which now can be avoided if the information is sent in a digital format.

Here are some tips that could assist in expediting processing:

• Please send your information in a digital format like email, Canada Post Connect secure mail or through your CAME. This can help reduce processing time as information does not need to be digitized into the systems.

1. Email is of course the easiest but it is not secure and should not be used for sending sensitive and personal information.

2. Secure email is another option offered through Canada Post Connect. If TC CAM needs additional information on your file, they will often send an invitation to your email on file to connect with them through this service. It was noted that sometimes this invitation may appear to be a SPAM message. Please look into your spam folder as it may appear there.

3. Your CAME can now submit digital files, securely and directly to Civil Aviation Medicine on your behalf. Provide them with a digital copy of your information and they can attach it to your. Close to 90% of all CAME are now being submitted electronically. Make sure yours is one of them.

• Please do not contact CAM by phone. Phone communications require significant resources so they have been given lower priority to processing files and will consume your time waiting.

• Only request the level of medical that you need for the type of flying you do. For example, if you really do not need a Class 1 medical consider doing a Class 3 as it can normally be done faster.

Below is additional information that was discussed with the TC Civil aviation medicine.

• Transport Canada is planning a review of some medical standards as management of some conditions has changed. For example, diabetes management has changed considerably so licensing standards should be reviewed. While no timeline was given to when this might occur it was identified as an item needing attention.

• TC is looking to work with FAA to address the misalignment of FAA Basic Med and TC Category 4 medicals to create a mutually acceptable solution to be used in both countries. This item also creates an opportunity to reassess/revitalize the Category 4 medical for more general use while reducing some administrative burden.

While significant changes do not seem on the near horizon, progress is being made and Civil Aviation Medicine is aware and is empathetic of the issues our members face. COPA will continue its regular dialogue with Transport Canada and welcomes your feedback. Please contact avops@copanational.org if you are experiencing significant delays, or issues, with the processing of your aviation medical.

(Photo: Adobe Stock)