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Proposed AODA changes may impact Ontarians with emotional support animals: CMHA Ontario

April 10, 2014

CMHA Ontario encourages mental health organizations and people living with mental health disabilities to provide feedback on the proposed changes to the Customer Service Standard under the provincial Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA). In particular, CMHA Ontario is concerned that proposed changes to the AODA’s Customer Service Standard may pose challenges for people with mental health-related service animals, including emotional support animals.

In January 2008, the Customer Service Standard became the first accessibility standard to be made into a regulation under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA). The purpose of the standard is to require organizations that provide goods and services to the public or to other organizations to achieve accessible customer service.

In September 2013, the Accessibility Standards Advisory Council/Standard Development Committee (ASAC/SDC) began its review of the Customer Service Standard at the direction of the Minister of Economic Development, Trade, and Employment. The ASAC/SDC has asked for public feedback and all individuals and organizations in Ontario can participate.

CMHA Ontario is concerned that proposed changes to the definition of service animals could pose challenges for people with mental health-related service animals.

CMHA Ontario is concerned that proposed changes to the definition of service animals could pose challenges for people with mental health-related service animals, including emotional support animals. The proposed changes include a requirement that animals must have received specific training to be defined as “service animals.” CMHA Ontario encourages the ASAC/SDC to reconsider this proposed change in order to promote consistency with the Ontario Human Rights Code and related case law which indicate that service animals do not require any specific training or certification.

  • To read CMHA Ontario’s full response, visit the policy section of our website.

To participate, individuals and organizations can download a feedback form and submit the completed form and other comments to csstandardfeedback@ontario.ca.

  • To learn more about the review process, please visit the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Trade and Employment website.

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