Recently, the Government of Ontario proposed amendments to the Food Premises Regulation 493/17 under the Health Protection and Promotion Act that will allow food premise operators the discretion to permit pet dogs in outdoor eating areas of food premises (i.e., restaurant patios).
With the proposed changes to permit pet dogs on patio areas of restaurants and bars, we have requested from government that the draft regulation must make an explicit distinction between pets and service animals (such as guide dogs). And, it must address the existing legislation as it relates to the legal rights of guide dog handlers and their access to public places, including exterior and interior areas of restaurants and bars.
As outlined in the Ontario Blind Persons' Rights Act:
Guide dogs permitted in places to which public admitted
2. (1) No person, directly or indirectly, alone or with another, by himself, herself or itself or by the interposition of another, shall,
(a) deny to any person the accommodation, services or facilities available in any place to which the public is customarily admitted; or
(b) discriminate against any person with respect to the accommodation, services or facilities available in any place to which the public is customarily admitted, or the charges for the use thereof, for the reason that he or she is a blind person accompanied by a guide dog. R.S.O. 1990, c. B.7, s. 2 (1).
For this reason, we request that Regulation 493/17 explicitly make a distinction between pets and service animals. Guide dogs are permitted in all areas of restaurants and bars that the public is customarily admitted, including inside areas – they are not solely restricted to patios.
As currently mentioned in the Regulation:
14. (1) Every room where food is prepared, processed, packaged, served, transported, manufactured, handled, sold, offered for sale or displayed shall be kept free from live birds or animals.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to any of the following:
- Service animals described in subsection 80.45 (4) of Ontario Regulation 191/11 (Integrated Accessibility Standards) made under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 that are in an area of the food premise where food is served, sold or offered for sale.
And furthermore, as defined under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation:
80.45(3) “guide dog” means a guide dog as defined in section 1 of the Blind Persons’ Rights Act; (“chien-guide”) “service animal” means an animal described in subsection (4); (“animal d’assistance”)
Even though the legal protections for guide dog handlers are clear, guide dog teams are often denied access because proprietors are not familiar with their legal obligations around guide dogs and service animals and/or may be confused about existing health and safety laws. If an explicit distinction is not made between pets and service animals in this Regulation, it would likely lead to further misinterpretations of the law, including the belief that guide dogs are only allowed on patios and outdoor areas.
With the relaxation of this Regulation to include pet dogs, please ensure that the explicit exemption of guide dogs is made clear: they are accepted in all areas of a restaurant or bar that the public has access to.
Head, Stakeholder Relations and Community Engagement
CNIB Guide Dogs