Paw-sitively awesome! Guides and handlers of service dogs can breathe a little easier now. The changes to the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act that comes into effect today mean higher fines for denying access or tenancy and better training standards for dogs. Pic Cred: Government of BC.
On January 18th, 2016, new legislation will come info effect that modernizes guide dog and service dog guidelines in BC, bringing higher training standards, improving accessibility to public spaces and strata properties and strengthening public safety.
The Guide Dog and Service Dog Act makes it clear that discrimination is unacceptable, giving certified guide or service dog handlers access rights equal to those enjoyed by all members of the public. The act updates guide dog and service dog guidelines, by:
- Expanding tenancy rights to include strata properties and certified retired dogs residing with their handlers.
- Providing public access rights for certified dogs in training.
- Recognizing service dogs in addition to guide dogs.
- Requiring a high training standard.
- Establishing a more robust decision-making process for certification.
- Strengthening compliance and enforcement.
Starting Monday, dog handlers will be able to submit certification applications to the Security Programs Division of the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General. Once these applications are processed, handlers seeking certification for guide and service dogs that were not trained by an accredited school will be able to have their dogs tested by the Justice Institute of British Columbia.
Guide and service dogs are crucial for many British Columbians who live with a disability. For example, they may help individuals who are visually impaired to navigate city streets, or provide assistance with things such as hearing loss, epilepsy, diabetes or post-traumatic stress disorder.
The new legislation fulfills a commitment made in Accessibility 2024 – government’s 10-year action plan to make BC the most progressive province in Canada for persons with disabilities. Read more about BC’s new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act.