Ontario Politicians Looking At BC’s New Service Dog Legislation

Kitchener, Ontario/Fraser Valley  – Currently in Ontario Guide Dogs for blind/low vision must be accommodated in all public places, including schools, but Service Dogs for other disabilities like PTSD, Autism and Diabetes do not have the same protection.

MPP Michael Harris has announced a Private Member’s Bill after reviewing the new BC Guide Dog and Service Dog Act that came into effect earlier this year. The Ontario Service Dog Act would require anyone with a government issued Certified Service Dog identification card to be granted access to all public facilities, including schools. Under his proposed legislation people found guilty of denying access to a Service Dog or trying to pass off a non-certified animal as a Service Dog would face a fine.

Harris was first made aware of the issue after hearing of several families who are having issues getting the Waterloo Catholic District School Board to allow access to Autism Service Dogs and a veteran who has repeatedly had issues accessing a courthouse with his PTSD Service Dog.

Harris says it is his hope the proposed law will help people with disabilities to clear these hurdles, saying “People recognize the value that service dogs bring to people with disabilities and we shouldn’t be preventing access to our schools.”

NATO Veteran Jim McLean, who was with a part of this week’s announcement would like to see more awareness and acceptance. “Don’t question why we have the dog and accept the fact they’re there for a reason.”

Amy Fee, the mother of 8 year old Kenner Fee, says despite two psychologists and her son’s pediatrician saying having his Autism Service Dog attend school with him is a medical necessity, the school board’s administration has stated her son doesn’t need a Service Dog.

Dog - Service Guide Dog 3 Kenner

Kenner and his Service Dog

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board has implemented a new Service Dog policy, which can be found on the board’s website. While the board does allow Service Dogs, the policy reserves the right for administration to review each application on a case-by-case basis.

If Harris’ proposed legislation is passed by the Ontario Government all public places, including schools would be required to grant access to all Certified Service Dogs.

The Ontario school board where Kenner attends a grade 2/3 class has determined he doesn’t need a Service Dog and has refused full-time entry. Proposed legislation that mirrors BC’s new law around Service Dogs, aims to make it mandatory that students with Service Dogs be accommodated in classrooms.

1 Comment on "Ontario Politicians Looking At BC’s New Service Dog Legislation"

  1. People do need to recognize the value of a service dog, and the value of persons with disabilities. The Guide and service dog Act is Standard, not mandatory it is not required to have service dogs certified. I see in this case that Kenners dog not certified under the BC Service dog Act. What was provided, was two physcologist and pediatrician saying allow this boy to have his service dog with him. His doctor has the absolute authority to say so, and the school needs to accept his doctors note. That students with service dogs be accommodated in class rooms. That is the key, any person with disability has the right to be accommodated. It says be required to grant public access to all certified service dogs. What is needed here is to clarify certification it is A trained service dog according to the standards of the BC Guide and service dog Act, and a docrtor or nurse may certify a service dog. That’s what anyone needs to understand a doctors note from a licensed physician would allow Kenners dog in classroom. I have been fighting Translink that my doctors note would certify my dog to! What the BC Guide and service dog Act says, policy, public places must accomadate persons with disabilities and thier service dog.Try focousing on accomadation with out being so harsh. In a recent decision Human rights Tribunal was considering that asking for identification or proof the dog is certified service dog maybe discriminatory! I just wanted to make it perfectly clear a doctors note did certify my service dog, my doctor has that authority! Good luck to Kenner and his mom!!!!

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