Calgary cabbie fired after refusing blind man with service dog

Click to play video: 'Blind Calgarian denied cab ride because of guide dog' Blind Calgarian denied cab ride because of guide dog
WATCH ABOVE: A Calgary man who is legally blind has been refused entry into cabs multiple times, because he has a service dog with him. As Nancy Hixt reports, he has reached his breaking point – Jan 14, 2016

Dave Balfour has his share of daily struggles; living life while legally blind.

His service dog, McCoy, is his lifeline, or at least his eyes are. Everywhere Balfour goes, McCoy goes.

“He leads me, guides me, keeps me out of trouble. If there’s a car coming at you, he’s going to pull me out of the way, which he’s done a few times,” Balfour said.

That’s why an incident with a taxi driver last week in Calgary has left him so frustrated.

“I was hanging out with a friend over at a local pub and called a cab to take us home, because it was very cold that night. The cab showed up, I went out to get in and he said, ‘no you can’t get in.’ I tried to reason with him a little bit, being as friendly as possible, trying to let him know this is the law and you can’t say no. And he still flat our refused to let me in.”

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Balfour said he was livid.

He’s had similar experiences in the past few months, but this time, Balfour wasn’t willing to let it go.

The 33-year-old called 311, and filed an official report with the city. Officials were quick to take action.

All taxis are equipped with CCTV cameras, so it was easy to review the video to get a full picture of what transpired.

Mario Henriques, Calgary’s chief livery inspector said the cabbie was fired, and fined $700 for the refusal.

“There is absolutely no excuse for refusing a guide dog by any taxi in the City of Calgary.

“It’s provincial, federal, and municipal legislation that you must accept the service animal in your taxi,” Henriques said.

The cabbie had only been licensed in Calgary for a little over a year.

The city said this is one of the key issues covered in driver training classes that this driver was mandated to take.

“The city takes these instances very seriously. It’s one of the reasons why we regulate taxis in the first place; to ensure everyone has fair equal access to transportation options.”

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Balfour hopes the city’s strong and swift action will send a clear message to other drivers.

“Just awareness – it’s really all I ask for,” he said.  “I’m not a vengeful person but at the same time, if I didn’t report it, it’s just going to keep happening and keep happening.”

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