Announcement from the Ministry of Justice – New Guide Dog and Service Dog Act
Earlier today, Minister Suzanne Anton announced that British Columbia’s new Guide Dog and Service Dog Act will come into force on January 18, 2016. The Guide Dog and Service Dog Act was passed by the Legislature this year. LandlordBC will be providing members with an analysis of the legislation and information regarding landlord rights and responsibilities in a separate release to follow. Herein are the highlights of the upcoming changes to the law.
Tenancy cannot be denied and a tenancy term or condition cannot be imposed due to a prospective tenant intending to reside with his/her certified guide or service dog. Tenants will also be able to keep their certified retired guide dog or service dog with them, including after a new dog has been certified to take over its duties. This acknowledges the bond between a handler and their retired guide dog or service dog. The only exception is if the tenancy entails sharing sleeping, bathroom, or cooking facilities with someone from another family.
These changes are intended to protect the rights of individuals who rely on guide dogs or service dogs, while providing clarity to landlords and property managers. In order to be certified, a guide dog or service dog will need to demonstrate that it meets a high training standard for public safety. Once the new program is in place, efforts will be made to provide certified handlers and trainers with standard provincial identification.
Please note the following:
- Not all certified guide dogs and service dogs will necessarily be a specific breed or size – the focus of certification is on the dog’s training to support public safety.
- Protections under the Human Rights Code may still apply to uncertified dog and handler teams –you may wish to seek legal advice specific to your situation.
For more information about these changes, please see https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2015JAG0296-002012 or visit www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/guideanimal/index.htm.