CMHA Ontario emphasized its stance on mental health accommodation and accessibility during an interview for a CBC story, which aired Dec. 7. Policy analyst Sheela Subramanian spoke to the CBC for a piece about a former Canadian soldier who said she was told by Air Canada she could not fly with her emotional service animal, a cat.
The former soldier, Kate Skywalker, was a member of the Canadian Armed Forces for more than 10 years. The CBC reported she was recently given a medical discharge after being diagnosed with depression and anxiety related to her time in the military.
“There is often this perception when it comes to service animals for mental health that they are just well-loved pets,” Subramanian said. “In reality, a mental-health service animal is no different than a guide dog for someone that has a visual impairment. They are essential support for someone who has a disability.”
Subramanian also told the CBC that the Canadian Human Rights Code needs a policy to address disability accommodation like the Ontario Human Rights Code does.
“From our perspective, if someone with a mental health disability is not entitled to the same disability accommodation as someone with a physical disability, it is certainly discriminatory and definitely a human rights issue,” she said.
CMHA Ontario website contains information about support and services, including accommodation and accessibility.
The full CBC story is available online.