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Orléans Ward
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(Updated 10:30 a.m., Feb, 16)
Local man successfully lobbies Uber to accept service animals

By Mike Beasley
The Orléans Star

Kevin Frost with his service dog and loyal friend Louis. Photo supplied

Kevin Frost has never turned down a challenge. For years, the legally blind and deaf athlete has become renowned for his speed skating, tandem bike and golf accomplishments. His physical handicaps have been a challenge to the Orléans resident but it hasn’t stopped him from living his life to its fullest.

Living his daily life included trips on the bus with Louis, his loyal companion and service dog. The pair would regularly make their way around town on OC Transpo without any hassles or resistance from the bus drivers.

One day Frost and Louis decided to call up Uber to get to their destination but the dynamic duo were declined service by the driver because of the Golden Lab.

“It happened two more times,” Frost explained. “I couldn’t believe it, the company said my request had been declined or the drivers attempted to deny service because of Louis. On two occasions, I got in anyways, and refused to let them decline me. I had to argue with them about my rights.”\

Frost knew his rights had been violated and was not going to remain silent. In 2016, the Legislative Assembly of Ontario established Bill 80 which is an Act respecting the rights of persons with disabilities who use service dogs.

Frost also had the legislative support of the Blind Persons Act (1990) and Canada’s Disability Act. Uber was in violation of the government regulations and Frost wasn’t about to let them get away with it. He went straight to the top and contacted Sheldon McCormick, Uber’s Ontario general manager.

“I approached McCormick in a very positive manner and told him that this type of attitude and refusal of services is unacceptable,” Frost explained. “He was genuinely dismayed and discouraged and said that these incidents should never have happened. He apologized for the inconvenience and stress that it caused and vowed to change the application process so that drivers would never be allowed to refuse service dogs in their vehicles."

Frost was happy that McCormick acknowledged the disrespect that he and Louis were shown. In response, Uber Canada launched a new policy in late November on how its drivers deal with customers who have service animals.

The new policy makes it mandatory for drivers to accept service dogs in their vehicles, with some exceptions based on health and/or religious grounds. Drivers could get an exemption if they provide Uber with written evidence they are either allergic to dogs, or their religion doesn’t allow contact with canines.

With that, Frost knows that his work is not done when it comes to protecting service dogs and their owners.

“We (disabled persons) need to have a voice when our rights are discriminated against. I don’t want this happening to me or another person,” says Frost.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

 

 

   
   

 


Posted Jan. 12



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