A woman sitting in the front passenger seat of a taxi and her guide dog, a golden retriever, sits at her feet between her legs.

Guide dogs are essential workers, yet they face discrimination daily

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(TORONTO – August 31, 2020) The CNIB Foundation and Guide Dog Users of Canada are reminding Canadians that guide dogs belong everywhere – it’s the law. 

In all of Canada's provinces and territories, legislation prohibits discriminating against a person with a disability who's working with a service animal. Discrimination includes denial of access to any premises to which the public would normally have access, including restaurants, hotels, taxis and rideshare services.

“Although it’s illegal in Canada to deny access or refuse service to a person who is working with a guide dog, it happens far too frequently,” says Diane Bergeron, president of CNIB Guide Dogs, who often faces discrimination with her guide dog, Carla. "Businesses need to familiarize themselves with the laws and they need to uphold this legislation – or it could be costly.”

Fines range from $100 to $10,000.

"Guide dogs are essential workers that provide mobility, safety and increased independence for people with sight loss and they are among the most highly trained working dogs in the world. The safety of their handler is their number one priority," 
says Chris Trudell-Conklin, president of Guide Dog Users of Canada. “Whether it’s avoiding obstacles, stopping at curbs and steps or negotiating traffic, a guide dog fosters independence.”

The harness and U-shaped handle facilitate communication between the guide dog and the person who is blind. In this partnership, the person provides directional commands and the dog ensures the team’s safety – if necessary, the dog disobeys unsafe commands.

This September, the CNIB Foundation and Guide Dog Users of Canada are raising awareness across Canada and educating the public on the rights of guide dog teams and the rights and legal responsibilities of business owners. The only time it is appropriate for someone to ask the guide dog handler to leave is when the guide dog is behaving inappropriately.

For more information about the legislation and how businesses can support guide dog teams in their community, visit guidedogchampions.ca

About the CNIB Foundation
The CNIB Foundation is a non-profit organization driven to change what it is to be blind today. We deliver innovative programs and powerful advocacy that empower people impacted by blindness to live their dreams and tear down barriers to inclusion. Our work as a blind foundation is powered by a network of volunteers, donors and partners from coast to coast to coast. To learn more or get involved, visit cnib.ca.

About Guide Dog Users of Canada
Guide Dog Users of Canada provides a forum for those wishing to give or receive peer support; educates the public about the abilities of Guide Dogs, and the rights of those partnered with guide dogs; promotes the high standards and integrity of guide dog training; and assists with individual or systemic advocacy whenever necessary. For more information, visit gduc.ca.

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Media Contact:
Devin Sturge
Marketing & Communications Specialist, CNIB Foundation
902-401-0486
Devin.Sturge@cnib.ca 

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