The Customer service Standards under the AODA and the Accessible Customer service Standard under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act both require organizations to make service accessible to customers with disabilities. Moreover, both standards require many of the same processes and practices to ensure accessibility. However, there are many important differences between the standards. The third review of the AODA recommends that the Ontario government should coordinate with other provinces and the federal government to ensure that accessibility laws are consistent across Canada. Therefore, requirements in the AODA may one day change to align with mandates under the Accessibility for Manitobans Act. In this article, we will explore requirements for welcoming service animals in Ontario and Manitoba.
Requirements for Welcoming Service Animals in Ontario and Manitoba
The AODA’s Customer service Standards and the Accessible Customer service Standard of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) both require welcome for service animals. In both provinces, organizations must permit customers to bring their service animals with them when accessing goods and services.
Ontario service providers must allow customers with disabilities to keep their service animals with them anywhere they need to go. However, the AODA makes an exception for places where the law excludes service animals. For instance, a customer may need to access a location open to the public but not to service animals. In these instances, service providers must offer alternative accommodations so that the customer can access the service. Providers may serve the customer in a location open to the animal. Alternatively, providers may serve the customer in the location where the animal is not allowed. In this situation, the animal may rest in a different area while a staff member performs the animal’s tasks.
Conversely, Manitoba’s mandate makes no mention about the possibility that service animals could be excluded from some locations. Manitoba human rights policy references the possibility that service animals may be excluded from locations like food preparation areas. However, this policy does not discuss how service providers should accommodate customers who must separate from their service animals.
On one hand, leaving the possibility of exclusions out of the AMA may help more organizations welcome more animals. However, organizations imposing necessary exclusions have no mandate to provide assistance to customers in lieu of excluded service animals. On the other hand, Ontario service providers who know about the possibility of exclusions may impose them without cause. For example, some service providers may falsely believe themselves able to impose these exclusions, although they cannot. However, service providers who must exclude service animals must provide support in place of the animals they exclude.