Allison Davidson

Allison Davidson

Victoria man challenging human rights tribunal ruling over guide dog discrimination

A Victoria resident is challenging a ruling by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

A Victoria resident is challenging a ruling by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, after a local taxi company allegedly discriminated against him by refusing to transport him and his guide dog.

On July 15, 2014, Graeme McCreath, who is legally blind, was having dinner at Earls in downtown Victoria. At the end of the night, a friend called him a taxi, however, when it arrived, the driver refused to pick up McCreath and his five-year-old German Shepherd guide dog, Adrienne.

The driver, who works for Victoria Taxi, claimed he had an allergy and shortly after flagged down another taxi, who drove McCreath and Adrienne home.

“He never apologized, never wrote a letter, never said anything,” said McCreath, who has experienced similar situations with taxi drivers in the past. “It’s rampant.”

He filed a complaint with the human rights tribunal, claiming discrimination and that the driver was not allergic to the dog, but was afraid of it.

Taxi drivers are required to file a certificate with their employer signed by a doctor, saying they are allergic to animals in order to exempt them from transporting them. The certificate is kept on file and is required to be renewed annually.

The driver’s doctor’s note was dated Dec. 14, 2014, five months after the incident.

But in October, the tribunal ruled in favour of the driver, claiming he could have been allergic to dogs without having a doctors note.

“I have found that Mr. McCreath was accommodated in another taxi almost immediately and that, more generally, the exception policy strikes a reasonable balance,” said tribunal member Jacqueline Beltgens, in the ruling. “Also, the suggestion of requiring a driver to take allergy medications, or at the very extreme, refusing to hire a driver who cannot transport animals because of a medical conditions, is untenable, and would not constitute reasonable accommodation.”

But Mary Ellen Gabias, president of the Canadian Federation of the Blind, said there’s no proof the driver had allergies in the first place.

“The human rights tribunal does not understand. They may be good at other types of discrimination but clearly the ruling on this case makes it clear that they don’t understand disability,” she said, noting there have been two cases concerning guide dogs and taxis, both of which went against the guide dog user. “What the tribunal has done is make it possible for taxi drivers to decide that they don’t want to transport guide dogs. All they have to do to make it stick is after the fact walk into a clinic and get any kind of doctors note.”

McCreath is filing for a judicial review.

Last week, the province announced new rules and regulations allowing certified guide and service dogs in restaurants, on transit (including taxis) or in other businesses that will come into effect Jan. 18.

If organizations deny the dog, they could be hit with fines to a maximum of $3,000, if convicted — penalties that are among the most expensive in the country.

Ministry of Justice inspectors will also be authorized to issue violation tickets ranging from $50 to $250, after information and education.

However, Gabias and McCreath agreed, more needs to be done.

“The way they’re publicizing it is that they’re encouraging businesses to ask them to show their identification,” Gabias said. “If you pull into the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant, nobody says show me your drivers licence so I know you have a right to be here.”

 

 

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This property, at 1980 Fairfield Place, is adjoined to Gonzales Hill Park and is the centre of community opposition and a B.C. Supreme Court case as owners are looking to build a single-family home on the lot. Jake Romphf/News Staff
Home construction near Victoria’s Gonzales Hill Park spurs legal battle

Gonzales Hill Preservation Society worried about impacts to the park’s wildlife, rare fauna, views

A man with a history of sexual offences was arrested after he followed and aggressively tried to talk to two young woman on the weekend. Black Press File Photo
Man convicted of sexual offences arrested after teens followed in Victoria

Women hid in a Quadra Village convenience store as man aggressively tried to get in

Traffic heading south on Highway 17 and looking to turn left onto Beacon Avenue wait for the light to turn Tuesday morning. A report finds the intersection is experiencing “failing levels of service” for certain movements during the morning peak hours as well as the afternoon peak hours. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Major Sidney intersection already deficient predicted to get worse

New report also finds area’s pedestrian and cycling infrastructure in need of improvement

Best of the City 2019 (Sergej Krivenko photo)
Voting opens for Victoria’s annual Best of the City

Annual awards mark 27th year in Greater Victoria

Demonstrators at the legislature on April 14 called on the province to decriminalize drug possession and provide widespread access to regulated safe supply across B.C. (Jake Romphf/News Staff)
Rally calls for decriminalization, safe supply as overdose emergency turns 5

From 2016 to the end of February, 7,072 British Columbians died due to overdose

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you have a plan in place in the event of a tsunami?

Tsunamis have claimed the lives of more than 250,000 people between 1998… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

A sea lion swims past the window of an empty viewing area Vancouver Aquarium is pictured Thursday, September 10, 2020. The Vancouver Aquarium has had to close its doors to the public due to the lack of visitors during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
U.S.-based theme park company buys Vancouver Aquarium

Aquarium had to shut its doors in September due to COVID pandemic

Legendary broadcaster Bernie Pascall is among in the Class of 2021 to be inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame. (PQB News file photo)
Island broadcasting legend Bernie Pascall named to Canadian Football Hall of Fame

Pascall named by Football Reporters of Canada as inductee in the 2021 class in the media category

A man wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as he walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
COVID-19 spike in B.C. could overwhelm B.C. hospitals: modelling group

There are 397 people are in hospital due to the virus, surpassing a previous high of 374 seen in December

A deep cut on a humpback whale is shown in this recent handout photo in the Vancouver area. A conservation organization is warning boaters to be extra careful to prevent further harm to an injured humpback whale swimming in the Vancouver area. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Ocean Wise, Vanessa Prigollini *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Boaters urged to use caution around hurt humpback off Vancouver

Ocean Wise says watchers first noticed the wound 3 days ago and believe it was caused by a vessel strike

Ron Rauch and his wife Audrey are photographed at their home in Victoria, Friday, March 5, 2021. Their daughter Lisa Rauch died on Christmas Day 2019 when a tactical officer with the Victoria Police Department shot her in the back of the head with plastic bullets after barricading herself in a room that was on fire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. families push for changes as special committee examines provincial Police Act

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth acknowledged the need to update the legislation last year

Major-General Dany Fortin, left, looks on as Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. The Public Health Agency of Canada has set aside up to $5 billion to pay for COVID-19 vaccines. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada negotiating contracts to secure COVID-19 booster shots for next year: Anand

Most of Canada’s current vaccine suppliers are already testing new versions against variants

Most Read