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A woman and her guide dog, a golden retriever, walking down a sidewalk into the sunset, away from the camera.

Pup-dates: Guide dogs are essential workers, yet guide dog teams face discrimination daily

By Diane Bergeron, President, CNIB Guide Dogs, and
Victoria Nolan, Head, Stakeholder Relations and Community Engagement, CNIB Guide Dogs

Guide dogs belong everywhere. Not only are they essential workers, but it's the law. In all of Canada's provinces and territories, human rights legislation prohibits discriminating against a person with a disability who is working with a service animal. Discrimination includes denial of access to any premises to which the public would normally have access.

Despite the legislation, guide dog partnerships are often denied access to public spaces such as taxis, restaurants, hotels and stores.

We are delighted to share our plans for the second annual Guide Dog Access Awareness Month campaign this September – and how you can help us break down barriers for guide dog handlers.

As guide dog handlers ourselves – Diane with Carla and Victoria with Alan – we know firsthand how humiliating and degrading it can be to be denied access when you have every right to be out in public with your guide dog.

This year, we are proud to partner with Guide Dog Users of Canada (GDUC) to raise awareness and educate the public on the rights of guide dog teams and the rights and legal responsibilities of business owners.

Here's how:

  • we've developed a 60-second public service announcement to raise awareness about discrimination against guide dog teams; this PSA is featured on our social media channels and website – and will be featured on Global Television and Corus Entertainment's specialty channels
  • we've created a video called Transporting Guide Dogs: what taxi and rideshare drivers need to know that we've shared with taxi commissions and taxi/rideshare companies to help drivers understand that it's illegal to refuse service to a guide dog team and how they can best accommodate passengers with guide dogs
  • we've updated as a one-stop shop for businesses to be more welcoming to guide dog partnerships; this website features a guide dog etiquette and provincial legislation information, a fact sheet to share with employees, details on how to obtain window decals that read “Guide Dogs Welcome. It's the law.”, a colouring sheet, and much more
  • we're launching the Makings of a Guide Dog docuseries on CNIB's social media accounts on September 22; it features Lawrence Gunther, a member of the CNIB Foundation's National Board of Directors, and his journey to find his next guide dog

How you can help:

  • Like, comment and share our social media posts throughout September to help us raise awareness during our campaign.
  • Ask businesses in your community to display our “Guide Dogs Welcome” window decals. To request window decals, call the CNIB Foundation at 1-800-563-2642. 
  • Learn about the rights of guide dog teams and guide dog etiquette – and share this information with your friends and family.

Together, we will ensure everyone understands that guide dogs belong everywhere. It's the law.