Know Your Rights: Four Sources of Ontario Law on Service Animals and Guide Dogs
Know Your Rights:
Four Sources of Ontario Law on Service Animals and Guide Dogs
Justine Wong, uOttawa Law Student, June, 2019
Are you a person who benefits from a guide dog or other service animal? If so, it is important to know your right to be accommodated and receive services in public. Being familiar with the law can help you and others be clear on what is expected of you and your service provider.
Four sources of Ontario law are relevant. The bullet points in the list below point out the specific sections and regulations from each source of law that you need to know exist. For what they mean, continue reading!
Ontario Human Rights Code
Preamble and section 1
Section 10 (1)
Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act
“Integrated Accessibility Standards”, Ontario Regulation 191/11, sections 80.45, 80.47, and 80.49
Health Protection and Promotion Act
“Food Premises”, Ontario Regulation 493/17, section 14 (1) and (2)
“Personal Service Settings”, Ontario Regulation 136/18, section 9 (1) and (2)
Blind Persons’ Rights Act
Sections 1 to 6
“Guide Dogs”, Ontario Regulation 58, section 1
Can I enter a service provider’s premises with my guide dog or other service animal?
Yes. Under the Ontario Human Rights Code, persons accompanied by a guide dog or other service animal have the right to be treated equally when obtaining goods or services and when accessing or using a service provider’s facilities. You can therefore enter a service provider’s premises with your guide dog or other service animal beside you. The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act makes this clear. In fact, service providers must make sure that you can do so. Moreover, where the law excludes the guide dog or other service animal from the premises, service providers must still make sure that you can obtain their goods, services and use their facilities. In all cases under the law, service providers must be properly trained to help you access their services. Under the Health Protection and Promotion Act, these cases would also include service settings that involve food.
Should I carry documentation to enter premises with my guide dog or other service animal?
Yes, as a precaution. You should also know that guide dogs are different from other service animals and have specific requirements under the Blind Persons’ Rights Act.
Under this Act, a guide dog is a trained seeing eye dog from a program that meets the criteria in Regulation 58 (“Guide Dogs”). Three examples of approved training facilities in Ontario are:
Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind, Ottawa, Ontario;
Canine Vision Canada, Oakville, Ontario; and
National Service Dogs, Cambridge, Ontario
Although the Act does not specifically require you to produce documentation, the Act suggests that some evidence is required. In any case, an identification card issued by the Attorney General or appointed officer counts as proof that you and your guide dog are qualified to stay together on a service provider’s premises.
The requirements for other service animals are in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. According to this Act, guide dogs are not the same as other service animals. For one thing, the Act does not specify that other service animals must be dogs. Service animals must be visibly identifiable. For example, your service animal might wear an identifying vest or harness. Otherwise, you must show documentation from a regulated health professional in Ontario that states that you need your service animal with you. The health professional must be a member of the professional regulatory body for the area they practice in: audiologists and speech-language pathologists, chiropractors, nurses, occupational therapists, optometrists, physicians and surgeons, physiotherapists, psychologists, and registered psychotherapists and registered mental health therapists.
Overall, if you are a guide dog or service animal user, your accessibility rights to services in Ontario are protected under the four sources of Ontario law covered in this article. It is important for you to be familiar with these four sources and how they support your accessibility rights to services in Ontario.