Canadian Federation of the Blind calls for government action to end discrimination

Canadian Federation of the Blind calls for government action to end discrimination
Hannah Lepine/CHEK News

Calling a cab should be a fairly easy task but it has become quite strenuous for the blind community, whether it’s being refused service or being avoided altogether.

“It makes you feel humiliated and awful,” said Graeme McCreath, a member of the Canadian Federation of the Blind (CFB). “A cab driver has the power to drive off and they do. If some cabs see us with a dog then they just don’t want to take us.”

According to the B.C. government, under the Guide Dog and Service Act certified dog and handler teams have the same rights as people not accompanied by dogs and can’t be denied access to taxis.

In a written statement to CHEK News, the BC Taxi Association says they fully understand, support and value the principle of providing professional customer service to all of their customers. The association adds that a person with a guide dog has the same right to customer service as others and it has always advocated and supported that right.

The CFB, however, says discrimination continues to happen.

“I’m only asking to be treated the same way as anybody else,” said McCreath. “Is that too hard to ask for?”

“The province is attempting through the passenger service branch to say things like if you pre-identify as a person with a guide dog then you won’t have a problem,” added Mary Ellen Gabias, president of the CFB.

She argues the CFB doesn’t want discrimination managed, they want it removed.

“Expecting people to pre-identify as having a guide dog is in itself a violation of our right to be free of discrimination,” added Gabias.

The CFB is calling on the government to investigate why their rights are being violated and to step in and enforce the law.

If a cab driver is caught refusing service they could face a fine of up to $3,000.

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