Halifax cabbies still turning away passengers with service dogs

Ruth Davenport, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - HRM’s accessibility advisory committee is looking for new ways to crack down on taxi drivers who refuse to accept passengers with a service dog.

Halifax taxi drivers lined up waiting for drivers.

It’s illegal for drivers to refuse anyone with a service dog, unless the driver has a certified medical exemption.

However, two committee members said Monday they continue to hear about the problem from friends and relatives.

“Why isn’t it being enforced, why does this keep happening if it’s a law?” said Patricia Gates.

Yvon Clement said he’s tried to report several incidents – three involving his wife – to companies and the city’s taxi commission, but was told he needed the driver’s roof light for any enforcement to take place.

He said that’s a tall order for someone who’s visually impaired.

“You can usually find out what company it is, but the roof light number is a little harder, especially after they drove away,” he said.

Drivers are supposed to receive training and written material clarifying their legal obligations, and can face penalties ranging from fines to loss of license for violations – if they’re caught.

Committee member and regional councillor Steve Craig said the problem is “unacceptable” – as is the response that nothing can happen without a roof light.

“There’s probably something we can do to say, if there’s a visual disability complaint that comes through, the traditional things that you’d ask for just don’t work,” he said. “Not just well, you don’t have a roof light, that’s it. To me, that’s not good enough.”

Craig will work with Gates and Clement to explore enforcement options and report back to the committee.

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Recent comments

  • Bruce Ross
    January 21, 2014 - 11:28

    This issue of Service Dogs seems to be a simple one... establish a few well sighted officers with service dogs, and start daily tests of the cab industry... make a few arrests, and suddenly there will be no complaints. These drivers are likely a minority, but need to be disciplined as the 'cad' drivers they really are...

  • jr
    January 21, 2014 - 09:56

    For one thing, dispatchersdesignate who responds for which call so there is a record there that should eliminate the need for a roof light number. Sometimes the weather is bad and it is hard to read the numbers along with the driver not wanting you to get the number so as to avoid getting themselves in trouble. All these things should be considered. It is not rocket science, the dispatcher knows who gets the calls. After all, what is a dispatcher for? These drivers need to be tracked down and punished as they are breaking the law and only making things harder for others. For any driver that may read this, put yourself in the same situation and think of how much you would enjoy being treated like this.