[nfbwatlk] FW: [List] guide dog legislation, now is the time to act!
gabias at telus.net
Sat Apr 11 23:32:49 UTC 2015
Here's the list of addresses and the press release I sent to the CFB list.
From: Mary Ellen Gabias [mailto:president at cfb.ca]
Sent: Saturday, April 11, 2015 3:57 PM
To: list at cfb.ca
Subject: [List] guide dog legislation, now is the time to act!
Below is a list of addresses for Suzanne Anton and other legislators, both
government and opposition, who need to hear from each of you as individuals.
The press release we distributed earlier this month is also included because
it summarizes our major points.
You need not write a long letter. The important point is that the current
wording of the bill will set blind people back.
Honourable Suzanne Anton
Attorney General and Minister of Justice PO Box 9044 Stn Prov Govt Victoria
BC V8W 9E2
Via Email: Suzanne.anton.mla at leg.bc.ca
Premier Christy Clark: premier at gov.bc.ca
Toby Louie, Executive Director, Corporate Policy and Planning Office,
Ministry of Justice: pssg-cppo at gov.bc.ca
Leonard Krog (opposition critic assigned to this bill should be copied on
everything sent to Suzanne Anton)
leonard.krog.mla at leg.bc.ca
Here is the text of our press release.
Bill 17 Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Bill 17 as currently written would shift the focus from protecting access
rights for people using guide dogs to catching impostors at the expense of
law-abiding blind individuals, according to the Canadian Federation of the
"Taxis often won't take us," says Graeme McCreath of Victoria, who has
frequently been refused service because he is accompanied by his guide dog
Adrienne. " We wanted the province to clarify and strengthen enforcement of
our access rights. Instead, they're forcing us to jump through more
bureaucratic hoops and creating the false presumption that we are
perpetrating fraud until we prove otherwise.
Oriano Belusic, first vice-president of the Canadian Federation of the Blind
and a guide dog user for more than 35 years, is waiting to see what the
legislature does before deciding whether to replace his dog, Hillie, who
recently died. "I love the speed and ease of movement I have always had
with my dogs, but it's not worth it if every shopkeeper, restauranteur and
cab driver can demand to see my credentials. Current law presumes I have a
right to go about my business. Bill 17 will force me to prove, over and
over again, that I have rights. Proponents say certification is like a
driver's license, but it's not; the police only ask to see a license when a
driver appears to be doing something illegal. This bill would mean that
anybody could demand to see my certification before they even let me in the
The Federation estimates there are approximately 80 guide dogs in the
province. "We haven't encountered problems with people pretending to be
blind in order to bring phony guide dogs into public places," Belusic
states. "For guide dog users, this proposal is a draconian solution to a
Dr. Paul Gabias, a blind university professor in Kelowna who has trained six
guide dogs, knows certification offers no protection for the public against
badly behaved dogs. "Certification only proves that a team worked correctly
on the day the certification was issued. I've seen people from fully
accredited schools who have ruined dogs. I've seen dogs whose work has
deteriorated because of trauma. I've also seen privately trained dogs that
have worked beautifully. The law already requires that dogs be kept under
control at all times and permits any business to remove a badly behaved
"Why is the province punishing us for the behavior of impostors without
disabilities?" asks McCreath. "Why not make it an offense to misrepresent a
pet as a service dog, require community service for violators, and leave our
access rights intact? That's simpler, much cheaper, and far more just than
creating a new bureaucracy."
Gabias agrees. "People determined to commit fraud will find ways to fake
certification documents," he says. "I would much rather tolerate a few bad
actors than impinge upon access rights."
"There are some very fine access improvements in Bill 17," says Belusic.
"Even so, if the focus isn't changed from catching phonies to protecting
blind people, we'll be better off if it does not pass."
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