Ministry of Education Gaining Power to Establish Service Animal Guidelines

  • December 21, 2018
  • Laura Lepine

The Ontario Ministry of Education has recently introduced Bill 48, the “Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, 2018”, which mandates revocation of a teacher’s teaching certificate if he or she is guilty of professional misconduct involving sexual abuse of a child.

One provision of Bill 48, however, seems unrelated: Schedule 2 of the Bill would amend subsection 8(1) of the Education Act, giving the Minister of Education the power to establish policies and guidelines respecting service animals in schools. Schoolboards would be required to comply with these policies and guidelines as well as develop their own policies about service animals.

This amendment comes on the heels of human rights litigation, J.F. v Waterloo Catholic District School Board, 2017 HRTO 1121, where the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario found that an autistic student did not need his Autism Service Dog to have meaningful access to his education.

Bakerlaw is committed to ensuring all children have meaningful access to their education and are appropriately accommodated in school. It is hoped that the new legislation will be used to ensure students who require service animals are not denied this same meaningful access.

Bill 48 is currently at Second Reading Debate. It can be found online here (link).

Policies regarding service animals have recently made headlines outside the education context. You can read bakerlaw’s post about a case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal regarding the rights of visually impaired people to take their service animals on planes here (link).

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