The Department of Justice is seeking feedback on the definition and protection of rights of service animal users. It will be used to shape new legislation governing service animals.
“With the increasing use of service animals in Nova Scotia, we must ensure we are protecting the rights of people who rely on service animals,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General, Lena Metlege Diab.
“There is confusion and we need to clarify what qualifies as a service animal, and the training and identification expectations that would be required to receive legal protection.”
Anne MacRae, executive director of the Disabled Persons Commission, said she agrees the rights of people who use service animals must be protected.
“We are encouraged by the steps being taken to help define these rights,” she said.
The use of guide dogs and other service animals are increasing as they provide critical support for Nova Scotians who are blind or visually impaired, and for people with other disabilities. This could include people who have autism, mobility issues, suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, have seizures, who experience dissociative identity disorder, or who have other illnesses or disabilities that can be helped by a service animal.
“I am pleased that government is seeking clarity on the use of service animals,” said Charlie MacDonald, member of the minister’s advisory panel on accessibility legislation and guide dog user. “It’s very important to hear from the community; they’ll help shape the legislation and eventually help educate others on what the rights of service animal users are.”
Three consultations will be held in an open-house format:
— June 18, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Sydney Justice Centre, in the multi-purpose room on the lower level, 136 Charlotte St.
— June 22, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Human Rights Commission, in the resolution conference room, 6th floor, 1601 Lower Water St., Halifax
— June 26, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Yarmouth Justice Centre, in the conference room, 164 Main St. (French interpretation services available at this session)
Those planning to attend and require accommodation for a disability, can let organizers know by calling 902-424-7729.
A discussion paper and an online survey are now available for input on the definition of service animals, training standards, identification standards and penalties for breaking laws that protect service animal users.
Nova Scotians can access the discussion paper and provide feedback in many ways:
— feedback can be submitted online in English and French at http://novascotia.ca/just/serviceanimalconsultation.asp
— the discussion paper will be available in English, French, ASL, Braille and large font
— comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to: Service Animals Consultation, Nova Scotia Department of Justice, Policy, Planning and Research, P.O. Box 7, Halifax, N.S., B3J 2L6
— use TTY through the Disabled Persons Commission at 902-424-2667, or toll free within Nova Scotia at 1-877-996-9954
— phone 902-424-7729 for more information or to ask questions
Comments will be accepted until July 31.