Access Stories Related to the British Columbia Guide and Service Dog Act
From the time when the province of British Columbia first introduced Bill 17, which has now become the British Columbia Guide and Service Dog Act, the Canadian Federation of the Blind (along with other rights holders) has warned that some of its provisions would create access problems. In particular, we warned that the emphasis on stopping members of the public from claiming that their pets are service dogs could lead to increased scrutiny of legitimate guide and service dog handlers. We feared that the portion of the definition of “guide dog” that defines a guide dog as one that has been certified by the province would lead to a two tier system that would leave those from outside British Columbia unprotected. We also raised the alarm about the stated intention to use a “graduated enforcement” strategy rather than a stringent implementation of applicable fines in cases of access denial.
This is a request for those of you who live in British Columbia, have visited the province, or know someone who has had difficulty because of the BC guide and service dog law.
We need your stories. Because the provincial system for handling access issues has been so ineffective, government officials who need to know about problems with the new law aren’t being made aware of them. If you’ve been asked to present identification before being allowed to access a public place or had service or access refusals, we need to know what happened, when it happened, and the end result. Even if you were able to negotiate the issues successfully, the fact that you faced issues is extremely significant. If you are from outside of British Columbia and were denied enforcement because you lack BC certification, we need to know that, too. Your experience could help educate lawmakers about the unintended consequences of the British Columbia law.
You can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your story. If you have questions, phone me toll-free at (866) 670-0052.
Mary Ellen Gabias, President
Canadian Federation of the Blind