Guide Dog and Service Dog Handler Coalition Conference Call

Guide Dog and Service Dog Handler Coalition Conference Call

The Canadian Federation of the Blind is pleased to make its conference line available for the next teleconference meeting of the “Hands Off Our Harnesses” coalition.

Please pass this announcement along to anyone you know who is interested in ending the threat to human rights posed by the proposed Canadian General Standards Board service dog standards.

To join the conference, phone (204) 666-2094.  If you do not have access to a cross-Canada calling plan, feel free to use our toll-free number (800) 898-8212.  In either case, the access pin is 7124#.

Anyone is welcome to join the call, but the job of the chair will be made easier if you RSVP to .

Thanks to Heather Walkus for providing the following agenda and to Yvonne Peters for chairing the call.


Wednesday, January 17th 2018:

4 pm British Columbia and Yukon

5 pm Alberta

6 pm Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Nunavut

7 pm Ontario and Quebec

8 pm New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

8:30 pm Newfoundland and Labrador.

Chair: Yvonne Peters

The Chair may call on specific people to add comments during the presentations and will ensure after each section of reporting is completed, go around the table and call on each member Province to Province to ensure everyone will have an opportunity to speak, ask questions and add comments 3 times throughout the meeting. This will avoid crosstalk and ensure every person can speak and be heard.

Draft Agenda

1. Overview/reminder/history of the purpose and objectives of the coalition -Yvonne Peters

a) Social Media Report – Tom Dekker

b) Chair will ask each person in a quick Round Table reporting from Coalition members on what each person has done including contacting MP’s etc.

2. Update on standards activities:

a) Report from the GDUC on the CGSB committee – Greg Thompson, Alan Conway, Christine Switzer

b) Overview and Intervention of the CHRC Report – Yvonne Peters

c) update on known formal complaints regarding the CGSB ti the Standards Council of Canada. – Yvonne Peters

d) update on Political Initiatives overview of the Political asks from the Nov 9th Meeting and discussion of strategy of the next meeting with Minister Qualtrough’s Office – Mary Ellen Gabias

e) Chair will ask each person in a quick round table discussion from Coalition members for input and thoughts on standards activities

3.  Current work to discuss:

a) Review of the CGSB current plans as laid out on their website- Yvonne Peters

b) the CGSB plans to ask Justice and CHRC to review the draft of the standards before it goes to public review what is our response

c) Chair will go around the table to get final input from members regarding development of the strategy and planning for the next round of draft standards, the ongoing political work and possibility of a legal challenge.


Guide Dog and Service Dog Handler Coalition Political Objectives from the November 9th Meeting with Carla Qualtrough’s Office

Expected Outcomes of the Coalition/Government working group as presented on Nov 9th 2017, Conference Call.

This first meeting was the opportunity for the Guide Dog Handler and Service Dog Handler Coalition Representatives to present the history background and context to our expected outcomes required to fix the failed standards.

It was agreed by all there will be another meeting of this working group in mid January 2018 in order for the Government to review the multi-faceted issues  that have impacted us as stated in our presentation and to discuss how the Government will proceed on the expected outcomes. This begins with enacting our number one expectation of immediate exemption.

The immediate and number one expectation we have of Minister Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Public Services and Procurement is to facilitate:

1) The immediately exemption of all Guide Dog Teams and Service Dog Teams in Canada from the CGSB standards.

2) Return to the original 2015 Veterans Affairs Canada mandate of ensuring high quality training for Veterans Specialized Service Dogs

3) Suspend or stop completely the standards process and instead have a robust Social Policy process together with Veterans, expertise within the broader community and managed by the CHRC to ensure the training support for Veterans is relevant and is aligned with UNCRPD.

4) Included with above begin capacity building with existing Service Dog Schools and Veterans to support effective training outcomes for Veterans Dogs which can lead to support of all Canadians requiring well trained Specialized Service Dogs.

Current Plans of the CGSB per their website

Update on the Development of a National Standard for Service Dog Teams

The most recent, sixth committee meeting was held from September 20 to 22, 2017 in Gatineau, Quebec.

The following points summarize the key outcomes from the sixth meeting of the Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) Committee on Service Dogs held from September 20 to 22, 2017, and help explain the progress made to date on this Standards development work.

The comments from the first Public Review period were discussed and reviewed by the Committee. In addition, it was noted that comments received in any format and even comments received after the Public Review period officially closed were considered. During this discussion at the meeting, all members and guests were given an opportunity to provide their feedback and feelings on the process and draft standard.  In particular, the Committee heard that the Standard must address human rights concerns which were raised, and action must be taken to consider existing industry certifications that many Guide and Service Dog users have obtained.

It was determined that going forward, the Standard should have a companion document that will act as information to users, stakeholders and regulators. This document will speak about the ability to recognize equivalencies regarding certification and that there is no intent for the Standard to introduce duplicate certification requirements in Canada from existing recognized international schools. This document will also help in clarifying the role of a National Standard versus Regulation. Furthermore, it will provide an informative component consisting of background on the development of the Standard, as well as an education piece on the spirit of inclusivity in Canada and creating a barrier-free system.

Prior to the second Public Review period, the Canadian Human Rights Commission, as well as the Human Rights division of Justice Canada have both agreed to review the next draft document for any concerns. The companion document will be included with the second draft at the Public Review period with the purpose of providing guidance to anyone reading the draft and an explanation for all stakeholders.

A second Public Review period will be held at the beginning of 2018 to allow all stakeholders 60 days to comment on the second, revised draft National Standard. This Public Review will be made accessible via the CGSB website with a draft in HTML, as well as PDF and Word documents available upon request. Unlike the first Public Review period, there will not be an HTML comment form on the website as this created some challenges for stakeholders to submit comments. The comments will be received by CGSB in any format, although a clause by clause break down remains the preferred method.

The seventh CGSB Committee meeting is scheduled to be held later in 2018, for the purpose of reviewing the comments received during the second Public Review period.