JUNE 2016 – Since June of 2015 NSD has been working with the Ministry of Veterans Affairs and Canadian General Standards Board (CGSB) to assist in the development of a national service dog standard. The hope is that national standards will help to ensure consistency across the country for Certified Service Dogs. Although the adoption of the standard is voluntary, it is anticipated that it will be utilized by private businesses, the general public and federal, provincial and regional governments and their associated agencies to develop policies that will improve the accessibility of service dog teams. Additionally, it is hoped the standards will help educate and create greater accountability for service dog users and trainers, improving public health and safety and strengthening the public trust in the service dog community.
National Service Dogs is committed to helping service dog users achieve greater independence and equality. Service and guide dog use has been on a steady incline over the last 25 years and society, for the most part, has embraced the work of service providers and service dog teams across Canada. Despite increases in public education and increases in the number of “dogs with jobs,” accessibility for many service/guide dog users can still be a challenge.
Accessibility laws across Canada differ from province to province, and in many cases are antiquated, poorly defined, and do not take into account the various needs of individuals with disabilities being supported by service dogs.
Although National Service Dogs has been providing services to children with autism for over 15 years, NSD’s Certified Service Dog program is still seen as a new and innovative program by government standards and timelines.
National Service Dogs, together with Assistance Dogs International, The Canadian Association of Guide and Assistance Dog Schools, other accredited service dog training schools, and clients, is working to improve and streamline access laws across Canada.
Claiming Certified Service Dog Expenses:
According to the Government of Canada, the expenses incurred for the Care & Maintenance of a service dog can be claimed when both of the following criteria are met:
- A current T2001 (Disability Tax Credit Certificate) is on file with RCA, and;
- The service dog was provided by an organization qualified to train guide/assistance dogs.
Once these are met, the expenses, i.e. food and veterinary care, can be claimed on line 330 as medical expenses for the dependant stated in the T2001. Families must keep in mind that these expenses are to be treated in the same fashion as medical expenses, i.e. the same 12 month period, and receipts are to be available upon request from CRA.
Assistance Dogs International’s Assistance Dog Model Law:
ADI is working to establish consistent access laws with consistent terminology for individuals partnered with Assistance Dogs. In Canada, our Model Law would be inline with the current Acts set out by the Province of Alberta which can be found below.
Provincial Service Dog Laws:
British Columbia • Guide Animal Act
New Brunswick • Human Rights Act
Northwest Territories • Human Rights Act
Prince Edward Island • Human Rights Act
Saskatchewan • Human Rights Code
Yukon • Human Rights Act