The City of Sault Ste. Marie in its continuing commitment to promote inclusiveness and acknowledge the requirement to be able to service people with differing abilities, has reviewed and expanded its Service Animal Policy. In general, animals are not allowed in most City facilities and on Transit. However, under the Customer Service Standard of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), service providers’ policies must state that service animals are welcome. Furthermore, the Ontario Human Rights Code provides that everyone has a right to equal treatment with respect to services, goods and facilities without discrimination on the basis of one’s disability.
Service animals have training to perform specific tasks for people with disabilities. Emotional support animals do not qualify as Service Animals under the AODA. Although emotional support animals do not require or have training as Service animals they may be included and supported under the Human Rights Code.
“As we acknowledge that people may have differing levels of ability, the City has revised its policy to provide guidance when rendering services to the public”, says Brent Lamming, Director of Community Services. “All facilities that are open to and that serve the public must welcome persons with service animals. They must also allow customers with disabilities to keep their service animals with them anywhere they need to go, except in places where the law excludes the animals.”
With respect to support animals, the customer may be asked to provide an identification card, or a letter from a healthcare practitioner, confirming that the customer requires the animal for reasons relating to a disability.
Under the new policy, if it is not visibly apparent that the service animal is required for reasons relating to a person with a disability, the customer should be prepared to provide an identification card or a letter from a healthcare practitioner, confirming that the animal is required for reasons relating to a person’s disability.
By welcoming service and support animals, the City of Sault Ste. Marie is continuing its commitment to inclusion and to serving all customers.