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- Emotional support animals no longer allowed on Air Canada flights.
- Mental health professionals slam Air Canada’s ESA ban.
- The airlines are saying that if you have a physical or medical disability you can have an assistance animal, but if you have a mental disability, you can’t.
This week, Air Canada made the decision to ban emotional support animals from their flight cabins. This comes on the heels of the US’ Department of Transportation ruling that ESA’s are not considered service animals and therefore US-based airlines are not required to accept them onboard.
Currently, “Air Canada‘s new rules are consistent with the Accessible Transportation for Persons with Disabilities Regulations under the Canada Transportation Act, which apply to airlines and other transportation bodies.”
However, Ontario human rights and accessibility law (which does not apply to airlines in Canada) recognizes a wider range of animals as “service animals.”
Case law from the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario recognizes that “service animals” include animals who are not trained or certified by a recognized disability‑related organization and who assist people with mental disabilities (see Allarie v. Rouble, 2010 HRTO 61 (CanLII)).
Mental health professional and the world’s leading animal-assisted therapist Prairie Conlon, LPC, NCC & Clinical Director at CertaPet, slams the airline ESA ban:
“We know that service animals and emotional support animals are very different and they serve different purposes. But how can they say that someone with a physical disability, or certain mental disabilities like PTSD can have a service dog when they have a legitimate need for them, but someone who has been diagnosed by a clinician with a mental health disorder and has a legitimate need for them can’t have their animal with them anymore? That is textbook discrimination. To put it more simply, the airlines are saying that if you have a physical or medical disability you can have an assistance animal, but if you have a mental disability, you can’t.”