February 16, 2017 10:09 pm

Paralympic rower says Toronto police don’t understand role in protecting rights of those with guide dogs

WATCH ABOVE: When a person with a guide dog is denied service, they are supported by the Blind Persons’ Rights Act. The problem is those who are supposed to be enforcing the law still don’t realize their role, even after a Global News investigation laid it out. Christina Stevens reports.


Guide dog Alan has opened up a whole new world for Victoria Nolan, but getting places can still be tough.

This week Nolan said an Uber driver refused to take Alan, so she called Toronto police.

“The person I spoke with said she didn’t think they were able to help me,” said Nolan.

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READ MORE: Paralympic athlete claims Toronto Uber driver left her at the curb due to guide dog

Police are supposed to investigate, and Nolan knows that, so she pushed the call taker until the woman transferred her to her local division.

At the division, they acknowledged it’s their job to enforce the Blind Persons’ Rights Act. But when Nolan was transferred back to the main line to file a police report, things went off track again. That call taker wasn’t aware of their obligation.

When Nolan insisted police investigate, the woman checked with her sergeant.

“She came back and said, ‘There’s nothing they can do,'” recounted Nolan.

Knowing she was right, Nolan refused to back down.

“I had to say, ‘Well, can you please speak to someone else?'”

Finally, the woman came back on the line and said police would take Nolan’s report. Nolan said she felt like she was a low priority.

“I almost felt like I was being laughed at when I was explaining the situation,” she said.

All of this might sound familiar.

In 2015, Global News reported on how Toronto police refused to investigate guide dog denials. It was only after the police service was sent the Blind Persons’ Rights Act and a statement from the Ministry of the Attorney General that the police department acknowledged it’s their duty to investigate discrimination due to a guide dog.

“We were wrong in this in the information we gave and we apologize for that,” said Const. Victor Kwong in March 2015.

READ MORE: Toronto police admit it’s their job to step in when service dogs denied

Toronto police promised to make sure all staff were aware, so one year later Global News followed up. During all three calls to different detachments, Global News was told Toronto Police don’t investigate guide dog issues.

After that, Toronto police committed in March 2016 to re-doing the training.

“It’s been two years and no change,” said Nolan of her latest experience.

READ MORE: Human rights complaints filed over alleged guide dog discrimination

“I was very surprised. I was really thrilled with the story that Global did exposing this and informing the police that it is in fact their duty to follow up on these incidents. I was shocked they hadn’t heard of this.”

However, this time Toronto police didn’t apologize in an emailed statement to Global News.

“The officers promptly responded, and took a report. They are currently investigating and we will not be doing any interviews,” wrote Const. Jenifferjit Sidhu

READ MORE: Some Toronto police still unaware of guide dog enforcement despite promise

Nolan said she is not satisfied, pointing out not everyone is capable of standing up to police like she did. She said if she doesn’t speak up nothing will change.”

“I feel I have a responsibility, I have to speak up about this.”

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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