Guide dog and service dog users requiring a dog to assist them with the tasks of daily living will now have enhanced public access rights and protections in place.
In the summer of 2020, amendments were made to the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act to expand public access and tenancy protections and streamline certification processes for guide dog and service dog teams. These changes take effect Friday, July 9, 2021, now that regulations under the act are in force.
The act establishes a voluntary certification process for guide dog and service dog teams, and provides legal protections to those teams. Under the act, it is illegal to interfere with a certified guide dog or service dog team when they are trying to access public places and services or deny tenancy.
The amendments also clarify that the act does not take away from individual rights under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
Following amendments to the act, the updated regulations will:
- recognize the high standards of internationally accredited guide and service dog training schools and allow guide dog and service dog teams from these schools to get B.C. government certification cards for active, working teams and retired teams;
- establish more accessible and streamlined certification processes for applicants; and
- eliminate the application process for the dog-in-training certificate, as only dog trainers from designated or recognized schools will need to be certified.
In addition to updating regulations under the act, the ministry is working to increase public awareness about the rights of individuals who use guide dogs or service dogs, and to inform businesses and service providers of their responsibilities in relation to accessibility for guide dog and service dog teams.
This work has been done in collaboration with groups representing individuals with visual impairment, including the Canadian Federation of the Blind.
Public information, including guidance for business and service providers such as public transit, the taxi industry, and the housing sector, will be distributed in July.
Guide dog and service dog certification in B.C.:
Guide Dog and Service Dog Act regulations:
B.C. Human Rights Code: