Monday 8 April 1991

Deaf Persons' Rights Act, 1990, Bill 22

Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada Inc

Lions Foundation of Canada

Jill Johnson

Norah Stoner



Chair: Caplan, Elinor (Oriole L)

Vice-Chair: Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

Acting Chair: Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L)

Beer, Charles (York North L)

Haeck, Christel (St Catharines-Brock NDP)

Hope, Randy R. (Chatham-Kent NDP)

Malkowski, Gary (York East NDP)

Martin, Tony (Sault Ste Marie NDP)

McLeod, Lyn (Fort William L)

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre NDP)

Silipo, Tony (Dovercourt NDP)

Wilson, Jim (Simcoe West PC)

Witmer, Elizabeth (Waterloo North PC)

Substitution: Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L) for Mrs Caplan

Clerk: Mellor, Lynn


Drummond, Alison, Research Officer, Legislative Research Office

Hill, John, Legislative Counsel

Mifsud, Lucinda, Legislative Counsel

The committee met at 1542 in room 151.


Resuming consideration of Bill 22, An Act to provide for Certain Rights for Deaf Persons.

The Vice-Chair: I call the meeting to order. Would you please turn to the report of the subcommittee? It is in your file. I would like to begin with that item, in the tabling of the business subcommittee report, and also make note of the fact that I would like -- I hope you would like as well -- to move to clause-by-clause if there are no differences among us, seeing that we could proceed today and probably conclude today.

Any objections to adopting the subcommittee report? No. If not, then any objections to proceeding to clause-by-clause? If not, then we shall proceed in that fashion. We will turn to Alison for a background presentation on Bill 22.

Ms Drummond: This will be very brief. Actually, "background presentation" is probably a little grand as a term, but in your file you have a memo I prepared with some background material. It consists of just some very general background on what exactly hearing-ear dogs are and training programs for them, which you will hear a lot more about from the witnesses. The third paragraph of the memo addresses legislation in Canada and in the United States.

Today, the library received from an American group, the National Center for Law and the Deaf, some additional information on the housing law that was passed in the United States in 1989 and the Americans with Disabilities Act that was passed last summer. I have that information available if any of the committee members would like to see it. I also have a copy of the legislation passed by the British Columbia Legislature last summer, which addresses all guide animals. That is really all I wanted to address.

The Vice-Chair: Any brief questions to Alison to follow up on that?

Mr Hope: Just one thing dealing with the British Columbia legislation: You say you have that if we request it?

Ms Drummond: Yes.

The Vice-Chair: Any further discussion or questions of Ms Drummond?


The Vice-Chair: We shall proceed to our first witness, Jacqueline Harbour, planning director of Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada Inc.

Welcome to our committee. We have 20 minutes for your presentation and, as was decided earlier by all three caucuses, there are three hours available to us for this. We have divided it up evenly, but you can do what you wish with 20 minutes of your time.

Mrs Harbour: Good afternoon. It is a pleasure to be here. Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada started because my mother had lost her hearing as I grew up. It was not until I was an adult that I realized why she was so nervous when I left her alone in the house. She always wanted the dog left with her because, later on I realized, the dog would bark if anyone came to the door. If she was expecting a phone call, she always hovered near the phone, and if she was cooking things, she would always stay in the kitchen so that she made sure she could hear the timer she had set.

She was a very nervous, very uptight woman, because she was always worried that she would miss some important sounds. It was not until I was older that I understood why. She was very ashamed of her deafness as I grew up, so as children we did not even know. She covered up, she bluffed and she got through life, but it was a taxing toll on her because she always had to be on guard, always watching people. She learned to read lips by herself. She learned to read body language. So even now, when people speak to her, most people do not realize she is 98% deaf because she picks up on innuendoes, body language. If you point to something, she knows probably what the subject is over there and you would not know she is actually 98% deaf.

My interest in life was dogs. I trained them, I groomed them, I boarded them. I also worked for a veterinarian practice for a number of years and my hobby was training and showing dogs. So when my mother came to Canada, I decided I would train a dog to help her. I figured every time someone comes to the door, the dog always barks, and no matter what you do, you can never stop him, so why could a dog not be trained to respond similarly to other stimuli?

So I trained one of the dogs I used to breed, which is a standard poodle, to alert my mother when somebody comes to the door and then take her to the door. The other thing she wanted was her stove timer, which she uses for many reasons to remind her that she has done something, for instance, putting the kettle on. She would put it on to remind her she had done this or was running a bath or the clothes were in the dryer. The other thing she was always very worried about was, of course, the smoke detector fire alarm. At this time, she could not use the phone, so we did not really train the dog for the phone.

It was so successful and it gave her so much relaxation, other people realized that there was something different in her life. Our local paper, the Hamilton Spectator, was told about it and reported the story. Other deaf people read about it and came to me to train more dogs. I got together with some friends and we established the Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada, and it became incorporated as a nonprofit organization. Later on we had the pleasure of becoming involved with the Lions clubs of Canada.

We usually train the dogs to about five or six basic noises, starting off with waking the people up in the morning when the alarm goes off; the telephone; somebody at the door; timers; children crying or a baby crying or somebody calling their names; smoke detectors and fire alarms; and anything else that may be important to the people's lifestyles. The dogs are with the people all the time. They are not pets. They are treated as a working dog or a guide dog so that they go pretty well everywhere with the person. And when people travel, the dogs of course accompany them. And if they have to go into restaurants or travel on public transport the dogs have to accompany them. This is one of the reasons we need the rights protected.


We get our dogs, usually under a year of age, from the SPCA/humane society. It takes about six months to train them, and once they are trained they are placed with the person, which takes about three weeks. Then, after three months we go back and test them to make sure they are working, that the people are keeping up the training that we train the dogs for. Then they are certified, and this is when they are given the bright orange leash and collar that are now internationally recognized, and an identification card that they can either wear or keep in their wallet. If you can imagine a deaf person being accosted because he has entered a mall, he does not know why he is being stopped, he did not hear the person approaching and he has just been scared to death because the person has grabbed him. He also does not know what the person wants because he is talking too fast and probably not looking at him. So showing the identification card explains an awful lot.

We have quite an in-depth application form the people have to fill out. We also want a doctor's report that they are physically capable of caring for a dog, an audiologist's report about their deafness, and some character references. If this is all satisfactory, we then go out and make a personal interview so we can check the people out, see where they live and choose a dog according to their personality, character and lifestyle. Then we train that dog with those particular people in mind. It takes about six months, as I said, to train a dog, and we always keep in constant checkup with them. We make annual checkups, and if they ever need help we are always available.

Some of the things the dogs have done that are almost, you can say, beyond their duty are: One dog saved the life of a lady in a wheelchair. She is deaf but she did live alone. The battery in her wheelchair shorted out and she said she would have been overcome in fumes within about 30 seconds. The dog gave her enough time to fall down and away from the wheelchair and he grabbed her collar and helped pull her out of the kitchen. A deaf single mother was bringing in the shopping and thought she had closed the garden gate behind her and was putting the shopping away and the dog flew in from the garden, ran around and flew back out again. So she immediately followed the dog, got to the garden, the gate was open, she ran out and just caught the little boy before he stepped off the curb into a busy road.

It is very hard to imagine being deaf and not being able to hear these things and recognize them. When one of my trainers went to place a dog, the lady lived in a trailer park, and when she got there all the lights were off. She thought, is she not there? What is going on? She pulled in and when she got to the door, the lady was waiting for her, and then she switched all the lights on. She said, "Why were you sitting in the dark?" And the lady said: "Because if I did not, I would not hear you, and I would not see you arrive, so you could be knocking on my door for five or 10 minutes and I would not know you were there. This way I see the headlights and I know you have arrived." Whereas as soon as we gave her a dog, she had a much more relaxed and confident life, knowing the dog would hear for her and alert her before she was surprised and scared.

These dogs do give great benefit to the people. One of the scariest things for people who live in apartments is not being able to hear the fire alarm, and this is one of the main things we do train the dogs for in a situation like that, that they do alert the person when there is an alarm. If there are any questions, I would be glad to answer them.

Mr Malkowski: Thanks very much for your presentation. I think it has been a real education for all of us. Why do you feel that a lot of deaf people would prefer to use the dogs over flashing alarm systems? Why do you feel that there is a preference for that? Do you think it is possibly to do with awareness that some people do not know about the flashing systems? What have you found as a reason for preference for the dogs? Have you done any research in that area?

Mrs Harbour: The main preference for the dogs is companionship. Many deaf people are shut-ins, lonely, they are scared to go out now that they have lost their hearing, and the dogs are companions. Also, they give them the confidence to go back out in the community. One lady we know had never met any of her neighbours until she received a dog. Of course she had to take the dog out for a walk; her neighbours stopped to talk to her. So in her whole life she feels more confident, gets out to walk. The big thing is companionship in a lot of cases. And flashing lights do not follow a child around the house. When the child becomes mobile, very often flashing lights miss the fact that they are crying or they have fallen and got into trouble, but the dog will hear them, even when the child is outside playing, maybe in a neighbour's yard. If that child falls down and hurts himself, the dog will alert the parent and tell him and take him to the child.

Mr Malkowski: I know a lot of hearing-ear dogs are requested by people who are deafened, is that correct, that it is often people who have lost their hearing as opposed to people who are born profoundly deaf?

Mrs Harbour: It is about the same amount of people request the dogs.

Mrs Witmer: I really thank you and appreciate the presentation you have made. I would agree with Mr Malkowski, it certainly was informative. What type of dogs are you using for this?

Mrs Harbour: The type of dog we use is usually a small-to-medium-sized dog. There is no particular breed, because we have been able to rescue dogs from the SPCA/humane societies. Many people live in townhouses and apartments. Therefore we need a small dog, and we have not found any particular breed that suits everyone's purpose. There are also a lot of allergies with deafness and we have to use the poodle in that case. But we have used everything, from the size of a toy poodle up to, as you will see later on, the German shepherd.

Mrs Witmer: What age would an individual have to be before you would supply them with a hearing-ear dog?

Mrs Harbour: We like them to be in their late teens, but we do kind of discourage it because we find when teenagers get to this age there are other things on their minds besides caring for a dog. Their hormones seem to get in their way.

Mrs Witmer: So the use is limited primarily to adults.

Mrs Harbour: Yes. We have placed them with specific individuals of teen age, but it is very specific.

Mr Beer: I was a bit late coming in and Ms Drummond may have answered this question, but in Canada how many organizations are there today such as your own?

Mrs Harbour: There are just two. There is ourselves and the one in British Columbia.

Mr Beer: Okay. So in other provinces this would not exist at all, or if it did people would be going down to the States to get the dog or coming to you?

Mrs Harbour: We place the dogs right across Canada.

Mr Beer: Okay. Is it your sense that the demand for this service would grow much more than it is right now if more people --

Mrs Harbour: It is growing in leaps and bounds as the word has spread.

Mr Beer: That's good terminology, given that you are talking about dogs.

Ms Haeck: I must also compliment you on this and your presentation. Reading the information here as well as your presentation, it really puts some life into it. Being a pet owner myself, I can appreciate it. My cats usually, when the doorbell goes, hide underneath furniture as opposed to running towards the door. Have you considered expanding the kinds of animals you train? I know dogs are your particular love, but is there a possibility that you would expand this to other animals?


Mrs Harbour: Are you talking about specifically for hearing?

Ms Haeck: Yes, specifically for hearing.

Mrs Harbour: No, I have never considered that. For other handicaps I can see it, but I cannot really see it as an aid to the deafness.

Ms Haeck I have seen some news reports where spider monkeys have been used for people who are in wheelchairs. Where there is maybe deafness along with the wheelchair, as you described with the one lady, has any research led you to believe that maybe another animal besides the dog might be useful?

Mrs Harbour: The dog is the most adaptable and it can work where there are the other distractions. The monkeys usually work when it is a one-on-one-only basis. When people enter that environment, the monkeys are usually put back in the cage. They are extremely mischievous and they copy what people do.

Ms Haeck: Good and bad. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you very much. If there are no further questions, thank you for making yourself available and presenting to us today.

Mrs Harbour: You are very welcome.


The Vice-Chair: I call on Ron Brown, executive director, Lions Foundation of Canada. Welcome to the committee, Mr Brown. I would just like to point out, Mr Brown, you have a written brief but unfortunately it is not available to be circulated because we do not have photocopies of it. But it will be made available at the end of our session today, if members would like a copy.

Mr R. Brown: Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of addressing this group this afternoon. As was pointed out, I am with the Lions Foundation of Canada. The Lions Foundation of Canada is made up of volunteer members of Lions clubs right across the country. Currently we operate Canine Vision Canada as well as the Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada. I would like to point out that what we are talking about this afternoon is exactly comparable to the rights of a blind person. That is the legislation that is being proposed.

When you talk about the rights of a blind person, I think everybody would agree that that is a very visible situation in that a blind person's dog is in harness, they are on the street, they are very mobile. The situation with the hearing dogs is somewhat the opposite in that their performance is more indoors, it is more in the line of a direct safety feature for a deaf person. Therefore, the public is not as aware as everybody might like them to be of what a hearing dog does. Mrs Harbour pointed out different aspects of the work the dog does for us.

There are, and we recognize it very well, mechanical and visual means for both the deaf and the blind to deal with. The Lions Foundation got involved in this in a very strong way because we felt that yes, there are flashing lights; yes, there are different mechanical means for the deaf and hard-of-hearing people to be made aware of situations. But in doing that, you are also dealing with power failures, you are dealing with batteries going dead, you are dealing with all types of situations. We feel very strongly that the dog guide situation is the most safe and viable situation not only for the deaf but for the blind as well.

I would like to compare it to a situation of a pilot in an airplane. The pilot is not going to let that plane crash, because he is in it too, and if there is anything at all he can do, he will avoid the crash. A dog is not one bit different. A dog is not going to walk or lead a person into a dangerous situation. They are interested in their own wellbeing as well.

Public awareness is on the rise very strongly with hearing dogs and, as Mrs Harbour said, the demand is getting more and more, and this can be attributed directly to public awareness. What we are finding is that, quite frankly, it is surpassing the demand for seeing-eye dogs when you consider that the working life of a dog is eight to 10 years and, at that point, that makes the dog 12 years old. With the seeing-eye dogs having been far more in the eye of awareness for the public and the hearing-ear dogs really just coming into their own, the demand is becoming very, very high.

I think we should all realize the privilege that we have when we have our hearing and all our faculties. A deaf person would tend to get very lonely sitting, waiting for a light to flash or whatever happens, whereas a dog provides them with some companionship as well. That is not the ultimate or the ulterior reason for having a dog, but it is certainly a very major factor.

Mr Chairman, I think at this point I would be prepared to answer any questions in the administration end of it. Mrs Harbour, I think, covered your working aspect of it reasonably well.

Mr Owens: Mr Brown, thank you for that presentation. I think you hit an excellent point in terms of the awareness level. I did not realize that there was a hearing dog out there at all. One recognizes the seeing-eye dogs, as you say, but hearing dogs are something that was totally new to me.

How many applications do you receive on a yearly basis for dogs or for funding?

Mr R. Brown: I would say on the average of 40 to 50 a year right now, whereas when I became involved in 1988, it might have been 20 to 25. It virtually doubled in two years.

Mr Owens: In terms of the kind of difficulties, would the hearing dog be used mainly within the home or used outside the home in terms of going to public places, restaurants and things like that?

Mr R. Brown: If a proper survey was done, the original concept of the hearing dog was basically in the home, but I think they are going into the workplace far more now. The technical equipment that is available in the workplace now has opened up the situation for the handicapped so much more, and the idea of having a dog make a person aware that their phone is ringing or the 10 o'clock coffee break bell has gone or whatever -- I think it is becoming more and more commonplace in the workplace.

Mr Malkowski: That is certainly very interesting information you have raised. I think a lot of hearing people do have the idea that deaf people are inherently lonely, which is a common myth among many hearing people. Certainly there are lonely deaf people, but all deaf people are not lonely, just as all hearing people are not lonely -- the same proportion, depending on the community. But just for your information, a study has in fact shown that deaf drivers compared to hearing drivers have better driving records, with a lower number of accidents, so deaf people are doing all right. I think that often there are some misconceptions and myths. I am just curious where you have gotten some of that information from. Do you have deaf people involved in the training of the dogs and in awareness and cultural sensitivity issues?


Mr R. Brown: Mr Chairman, can I apologize? I have a little bit of the flu and my head is plugged up tight. I am sorry, I cannot hear the interpreter.

The Vice-Chair: I am sorry. Perhaps Mr Malkowski could summarize, go over, what he had said earlier so it can be repeated a little more loudly.

Mr Malkowski: Sure. I was just commenting on the fact that it is often easy for hearing people to think that deaf people are inherently lonely, which is not the case at all, and it is a common myth. There are deaf people who are lonely and there are hearing people who are lonely, but that is a myth, that all deaf people are lonely, and I was just pointing out that in fact deaf drivers compared to hearing drivers have a better driving record with a lower number of car accidents than hearing people. So I guess one of my questions for you was on some of your information. Do you have deaf people involved in the training of the dogs and providing information and awareness about deafness and cultural sensitivity?

Mr R. Brown: I think a bit of research of some of our clients and some of our applications would reveal that some of these people are alone. I think it is a very definite benefit. I congratulate the person speaking that he is very active in an admirable situation, but I did not mean it as a demeaning remark in any way.

Yes, we have had some deaf people on staff. We use them mainly for training sign language that you are watching happening here. They tend to be a little more harder-working person in that field, because they recognize the value of the hearing dog and they seem to work a little harder with the deaf clients to make it understood.

Ms Haeck: I was curious for a bit more information on the placement of the dog. Is it virtually anybody who would come forward who would be interested who would get the dog, or what kind of screening process might you go through in order to determine the best home or best situation for the dog? I mean, this is not a pet. You are probably dealing with need.

Mr R. Brown: When I answer this, I am getting into Mrs Harbour's bailiwick a little more, but there is a definite qualification. Yes, we are interested in the best situation for the dog, but I think our ultimate is to make it a situation where the dog is going to be the most value to a person. That is why I was very cautious to say it is not a companion. It becomes a companion as a result of the work, but that is not a qualification by any stretch of the imagination.

Ms Haeck: So you are trying to place the dog really with the greatest need, and you do a series of interviews and have a whole screening process set up to make sure that whatever dog is coming up for placement is going to meet the greatest need.

Mr R. Brown: Yes.

Mr Beer: Any of us who have been involved in the whole series of programs, and I guess I speak as a former Minister of Community and Social Services, in seeing the activities of the various service organizations in our province and indeed in our country -- it is amazing the number of things you get involved in in working with and helping people. I think, as part of our proceedings, to say once again thanks to the Lioners for the initiative in this regard and simply note that if we were trying to determine exactly all of the hours that people from various service clubs put into community and social services, we would probably find that our deficit was twice what it was, and I think this is the appropriate place to say thank you.

Mr R. Brown: I appreciate what you are saying, and it is kind of exciting for us too to be involved.

Mrs Witmer: Just following up on what Mr Beer has commented on, the Lions have assumed responsibility. Are they picking up the total cost of the hearing-ear dogs? Or is the individual who receives the dog expected, if he can afford it, to pay some of the cost? Exactly what is happening?

Mr R Brown: No, the full cost of training and placing the dog is sponsored. There is no charge to a recipient. Some recipients naturally want to get involved and that is fine, but it is not a prerequisite.

Mrs Witmer: But the expectation is certainly not there.

Mr R. Brown: No.

Mrs Witmer: I would certainly like to echo Mr Beer's comments. I really appreciate the work you are doing.

Mr R. Brown: Thank you.

Mr Malkowski: My understanding is that in one case, the hearing dog was trained and it died. I am just curious, do you have any animal health standards for the dogs?

Mr R. Brown: Oh, yes. It would not be reasonable to expect that we would put out a dog that has health problems. That is going to be a burden on a person rather than a help.

Mr Hope: First of all, thanks for coming. I was just looking over the bill, and Gary beat me to the punch about the qualifications of the dogs themselves and what qualifications or standards would be put in place. You say you do have standards that are in place for those. We know the frustrations the disabled community face within public life with discrimination. Does the bill go far enough to help people take an active part?

Mr R. Brown: I think it does, I think it goes far enough. I do not think we want to be putting ourselves in a situation where there are some unreasonable requests being made by people. I think we are looking at providing some measure of security with the public.

The Vice-Chair: If there are no other questions, I would like to thank Mr Brown for appearing before us.



The Vice-Chair: We will move on to our next presenter, Jill Johnson. Welcome to our committee.

Mrs Johnson: Can you hear me? I am not too quiet. I cannot hear my voice. Okay.

I have made copies of my last presentation for your reference, as well as the current one for your perusal. It is just being handed out.

Some of you have already met me from my previous presentation, but to others there may be surprise that here is someone, born with a hearing loss, classified as profoundly deaf by medical experts in England and in Canada, who can talk just like you even though this person has an invisible handicap and was integrated in numerous English hearing schools. My source of communication is lip-reading all the time, unfortunately with limited American sign language.

I was last here on Tuesday 1 May 1990 and came down by GO train to attend the hearing of the second-day support for the Deaf Persons' Rights Act. While waiting for the GO train to Queen's Park on that particular day, a man came and approached us, making as if to pat Toby. On my refusal for him to pat Toby, I then explained Toby's role as a hearing-ear dog. I thought I was doing extremely well from the bewildered expression on the man's face. Unfortunately, he thought that Toby was deaf, not his owner.

I am again very honoured to be here to present my support for Mr Abel's Bill 22, a reintroduction of private member's Bill 143 by Norah Stoner of the Liberal government -- the Deaf Persons' Rights Act based along the same lines to some extent as the Blind Persons' Rights Act. I only played a small part, but I would like to ask for Norah Stoner to be given the recognition of insight for presenting our needs for this act.

I would also like to say thank you to Mr Ruprecht for reading my letter on Toby alerting to get me out of the house when the smoke alarm went, at the second reading of Bill 22 on 13 December 1990. Thank you very much.

I do not want to produce a repetition of my previous presentations, but would like to reiterate the valuations, if I may use that word, of hearing-ear dogs, not just for me but for all that have these working dogs. I can say without any hesitation that these dogs have opened up our lives from possible seclusion in our homes to socializing within our own communities.

Since having Toby, I myself have become very active in the hearing world in interesting areas of community work, as well as promoting hearing-ear dogs. I enjoy talking to service clubs, schools, and so on, and the educational aspect is very rewarding on both sides. My favourite one of them all was a class of nine- and 10-year-olds at an elementary school. About five children were helping me carry my TTY, brochures, buttons and any other odds and ends that I take with me to promote Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada, and an insight on technical aids available for hearing-impaired people. As we neared my van, a group of children came towards us and I lip-read one child explaining why Toby could not be patted because he was working for me. Asked what was wrong with me, the boy unfortunately had a speech impediment as he proudly told them that I was "death."

Our dogs are with us all the time, following us wherever we go, and it can be pretty infuriating. Our dogs do not just alert us to the everyday noises that the hearing people take for granted. Once bonded with their respective owners, they seem to sense we are special people who need them and start to train themselves to communicate with us in their own special way.

As an explanation, when I told my children to go and clear up all the toys they had left lying around in the basement, about five minutes after this "unfair" request, Toby alerted me to the front door -- paper boy for his weekly dues -- and then he proceeded to the top of the stairs, looking down in the basement. Toby was telling me something, but not as important as the front door, so I went down to see what the children were doing. I do not remember the reason, but the children were definitely doing something very bad. If Toby had not communicated himself to me, I would never have found out.

When my family is home, Toby does relax and has a break from his working schedules. If we are all in the same room and the telephone rings, for example, as far as Toby is concerned, he does not have to tell me. The family can hear, so they can now take over the job. But Toby does alert me when the rest of the family are scattered around the house.

Although my children claim unfairness because they cannot get away with murder any more, Toby has enriched our lives more than we realize. He has taken over the responsibilities from my family's shoulders on to his and has given us a taste of freedom from anxiety and concern. My family can go out, leaving me on my own, knowing that the dog will alert me to any strange or familiar noise. The familiar quote in the house right now is: "Ah, forget it. The dog will tell her."

There have been times when accidents could have occurred but did not, specifically where bicycles are concerned. We both enjoy long walks, and unfortunately, children like very long bike rides. Toby places himself in front of me, stopping me from continuing walking until the bikes have gone by.

The independence from human help and some technical aids is beautiful, and no one can really understand that word until it is absolutely experienced. However, one day, I could very well lose that independence and also the other owners with these working dogs. None of us wants to return to a life of dependency on other people or even develop a phobia of not going out in the community again.

I have to be realistic in realizing that I have been very lucky with my upbringing, both education-wise and the ability to speak as a hearing person. That advantage cannot last too long with me as I get older, and I will come and have come across unconscious ignorance, arrogance and insensitivity.

When my children leave home -- and there will come a time when I cannot keep my home -- I will have problems finding a place that I can call my very own. There are so many places that will not allow pets, even children, in their areas, and one of the handicaps that hearing-ear dogs do face is that there is no act or law to provide them with the same protection as seeing-eye dogs. I can approach the Ontario Human Rights Commission and other ministries knowledgeable about our dogs, but there are no guaranteed protections available for our dogs or even their owners. I would be completely lost without Toby, should his services be stopped through no fault of his own. Seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs provide the same essential services as well as companionship and loyalty to their owners.

Shortly after having Toby, I was promoting hearing-ear dogs at the Ontario Science Centre, enjoying talking about our dogs and all that is connected with them. Part of the schedule of this particular show was the parade of the breeds, with proud owners showing off their spectacular breed of dogs. The seeing-eye and hearing-ear dogs were at the very end of this parade, partly to educate the public and encourage them to go over to our booths for additional information.


A young girl about nine years of age accompanied by an older lady approached my table. She was very impressed with the work the hearing-ear dogs do, but she also expressed surprise that I was deaf and was amazed at how well I could lip-read and speak. Before she continued on her way, she took one of my hands gently in her hands, patted it and very kindly said: "Never mind. I hope you get your hearing back one day."

But I do have my hearing: My ears are useless, but my hearing-ear dog is valuable. I sincerely hope that we may have your support to pass Bill 22, which would be a very valuable protection not just for us, but for our special, hardworking, hearing-ear dogs. Thank you for listening to me.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you. We do have time for questions, so I would ask for questions of members at this time, if there are any.

Mr Malkowski: The time that you did not have the hearing-ear dog, how did you manage in your life? After you received the dog, you noticed that he did help you, you felt more secure?

Mrs Johnson: Absolutely. I would not trade my dog for anything in the world.

Mr Malkowski: I know many deaf people who are not aware of how hearing-ear dogs could help them. Do you feel that we need to provide some kind of education to the deaf community so that they know they could use the dogs for safety reasons?

Mrs Johnson: I think that is a very good idea.

Mr Beer: Within the family -- you made references in your presentation to Toby having a pretty strong sense of your children -- did you find there was any particular problem when you first got Toby? Is there a problem sometimes when a hearing-ear dog perhaps comes into the family of becoming acclimatized to family life? Was that a fairly easy transition or did you have to work harder on your family than perhaps Toby to understand what his role was?

Mrs Johnson: I do not think I am being realistic in saying no, we did not have problems. We did have problems. I think it was harder on my children, very bad. I have had dogs as pets before. I had to explain that this dog was my dog. I had to feed him, I had to take him out. He was not allowed to go out with them. I really had to explain the difference between a working dog and a pet. I would say a lot depended on the age of the children.


The Vice-Chair: I believe it is a fire alarm and we should respond accordingly.

The committee recessed at 1635.


The Acting Chair (Mr M. Brown): Welcome back from our little bit of excitement today. Are there further members who have some questions? I have kind of lost track of the list.

Mr Owens: What happened to Joe?

The Acting Chair: Joe has a short attention span. Are there any other members who have questions? If not, thank you very much for coming today. We appreciated your presentation and we most enjoyed it. Thank you very much.

Mrs Johnson: My pleasure, thank you.


The Vice-Chair: We were rudely interrupted, and we see that history has repeated itself. I would like to call on my former colleague, Norah Stoner, who is our next presenter, to come forward. Of course this occurred before, when you were in the process of dealing with this bill a year ago. Is that correct?

Mrs Stoner: Yes. That is correct.

The Vice-Chair: Welcome to the committee.

Mrs Stoner: Thanks, Joe. I have never sat in this seat. I sat over where Ms Haeck is, I think, most of the time.

Ms Haeck: I got some of your mail earlier.

Mrs Stoner: Well, I liked it when I was here. I hope you enjoy it, too -- a great experience, a real privilege, and it is a privilege to be here. I really appreciate the invitation to come back and to talk about this bill. It is particularly gratifying to see this piece of legislation being revitalized. Some of you may know it was on the order paper the day the House dissolved for the election, and we were going to be the first province in Canada to have hearing-ear dog legislation. Unfortunately, BC has now beaten us to the punch and Nova Scotia is at second reading, so we are playing catch-up. But I am glad we are moving in that direction, and it is really a privilege again to be part of this.

I initiated this bill for a couple of reasons. The first reason was meeting Jill and Toby, and I got to know them through a mutual friend. Jill lives in Ajax and I hired Jill to work in my constituency office. Of course, that meant I hired Toby, too, which was great. And through Jill's work with hearing-ear dogs and with her work in my office, I became very aware of the need for legislation to protect Jill's right to take Toby wherever she wanted to go. Jill could not necessarily be sure of being able to get on that GO train to come to Toronto or to take Toby on any other form of public transportation.

The airlines, for instance, do not all have standard policies of allowing a hearing-ear dog, where they do, of course, allow a seeing-eye dog. Hotels and particularly restaurants that feel they might be in contravention of the health requirements of the health act are very leery of allowing hearing-ear dogs to have the same kinds of privileges as seeing-eye dogs do, and I think, as was referred to earlier, that there are probably more people now in need of hearing-ear dogs than require the seeing-eye dogs, so the need for legislation is going to escalate at a significant rate in the next little while.

The second reason was that I have a deaf child. Katy is now 19, has other problems besides her deafness. But through her I became aware of the needs of the deaf community. I am a member of the board of the Oshawa Deaf Centre and I am particularly aware of the social isolation. Although Gary, whom I feel I know on a first-name basis, has referred to not all deaf people being lonely -- that is true, but if you think of a person who is deaf from birth, in an isolated community where there are few other deaf people, where the only option of language for a deaf child is signing and there are no other people who sign, other than her or his teacher who commutes on a biweekly basis from Belleville, this is a serious problem and the isolation is significant.

The isolation of a person whose language is only signing is substantial. It was not until Gary got here that there were any facilities for deaf people in this building or throughout Queen's Park, and it has brought a great deal of notice of the requirements of the deaf to the people of Ontario, the fact that he is a part of this Legislature. It is very significant, and with him come his interpreters, and therefore you all see what is essentially an invisible handicap.

The dogs fulfil a social need as well as an alerting need. For those of you who wondered why Toby did not jump up and go nudge Jill when the alarm went off here, the reason was that Toby is aware that there are all kinds of other hearing and speaking people around Jill who could alert her, just as they had alerted her to a telephone at home if there were other people in the room. The dog really does make a difference.

One of the examples of something that Toby did that really amazed me was: Jill was driving her car, with Toby. It started to make a funny noise, but of course Jill was completely unaware of it. But the dog started acting up enough that he persuaded Jill to pull over, only to find that there was a significant mechanical problem with her car that she was completely oblivious to. No flashing light, no alarm system, nothing else other than Toby would be able to do that.

The question Ms Haeck asked earlier about the other kinds of animals, particularly for the people who are physically challenged and unable perhaps to move themselves or lift or carry or that sort of thing, is important. I think that ultimately this province is going to need legislation that will provide for assistance animals for all disabled needing them. That is going to have to be a judgement call between the trainers of the animals and the disabled themselves, and they are going to make their own decisions. But we are going to have to, as a province, provide them with the mechanism so that they can have those animals. I know that dogs are doing the kinds of services that you referred to with the monkeys, not only in peoples' homes, but also outside in the community, allowing people to work, to be involved, to get out and socialize.


So it has made a great deal of difference in Jill's life. She has talked to me about the freedom it has given her personally, but also the freedom it has given her children and her husband, because they are no longer responsible for her. They do not have to think about Mother's response to any given situation, as well as their own response. They are free to just have their own responses and to be able to rest assured that Toby is going to make sure that Jill knows whatever she needs to know, and he does. He does it absolutely magnificently.

That is really my supposedly formal presentation, which is pretty informal. I would be pleased to answer any questions.

Mr Beer: It is nice to have you back here, Norah. I think everyone will understand that some of us would like you to be sitting here.

Mrs Stoner: Actually, Charles, I am not sure that I would really want to.

Mr Beer: There is life after politics.

Mrs Stoner: Yes, there is. It is kind of great.

Mr Beer: In these proceedings it is only fair to note that when our colleague the member for Wentworth North was presenting the bill, and when it was being discussed in the House, he and others noted that you had brought the bill forward in the first instance, and in a sense what we are doing today is saying thank you to a lot of people who helped bring this forward. I know, as you have spoken about it in terms of your own relationship with Jill and with Toby and the stories you told us, that in fact the day you presented the bill the first time, Toby was in the House.

Mrs Stoner: Yes, first dog in the House.

Mr Beer: Yes, first dog, I think.

Mrs Stoner: And Jackie brought her demonstration dog to the House too.

Mr Beer: That is right, and so there have been a number of firsts, and you were noting earlier the fact that Gary has been elected and been in the House and what that has meant, both in real terms and in symbolic terms. I think we are all very much struck by that, how things will change once people come to recognize that there are certain needs people have and that we need to find a way to accommodate those needs.

I was just wondering, in terms of your own experience with Jill working in your office, another dimension; we have talked about the hearing-ear dog this afternoon in the context of being with the family and being with the person. What is the receptivity on the part of the business community to hearing-ear dogs from any discussions you have had? Has that been a problem, or are there just too few people to --

Mrs Stoner: The first reaction is curiosity, and one of the reasons for bringing Jill into the office and giving her responsibilities that brought her out into the community with Toby was so that she could expound on the virtues of hearing-ear dogs and let people know, and it has really made a difference. As a matter of fact, the community of Ajax recently sponsored a walk-a-dog-athon, and that was specifically to raise money for Hearing Ear Dogs of Canada. It was a great event and everybody who had a dog felt they should take it for a walk, anyhow. This way they could get pledges, and I would recommend it to other communities. You cannot have Jill, but you can certainly have a walk-a-dog-athon.

It has made a difference, and the business community is now more aware. I mean, we would be out, anywhere, whether it was to a plant, to a restaurant, to any part of our community. There were no doors that were closed, nor should there be. But there could be, and that is the point of the legislation. There could be doors closed and there have been.

We all know of instances that receive a great deal of press where the blind people are forbidden to enter a cab with their animals, or are forbidden to enter a restaurant, and those people have recourse to the law and they take it. They get a great deal of publicity around it so that more and more people do not make those same mistakes. But the deaf people have no recourse. There is no law for them; there is no protection for their animals. And they need it; they really do need it.

This is the kind of legislation that does not cost the government anything. It does not take a great deal of money to implement it, and yet it will make a difference in peoples' lives. Surely that is what we are all about and that is what we are trying to do.

The Vice-Chair: Any further questions? Mr Hope.

Mr Hope: Just one. My executive assistant is legally blind and his name is Dick Santos. When I start looking at this legislation, I understand what you are looking for, but I also understand in the blind community there is also -- you touched on it, about taxicabs and everything else. I understand the limitations of this bill currently as it exists. It is only within certain parameters, it does not go broader, and I am just wondering, is there a way it can go broader? It is nice to put in a small piece of legislation, but there are also a number of other rights that we must address and that is where --

Mrs Stoner: Yes.

Mr Hope: I understand the small move we want to make. It is a very positive move. It is not small and it is small in the sense that there is more we should be doing other than that.

Mrs Stoner: Exactly, but it is sort of a one-small-step scenario, and the first small step the right foot moved when this province enacted the Blind Persons' Rights Act. The second step is the Deaf Persons' Rights Act. Then I would hope that instead of being a private member's bill, that we would be looking in the future to government legislation that would in fact say that the disabled who require assistive dogs should have protective legislation, period, and not get into your definition of disabled, or your definition of the assistive animal, for instance. Those kinds of things are really, as I said earlier, the judgement call of the person who is disabled and the judgement call of those who train the animals and who know what they are able to achieve for a person or not able to achieve.

Yes, absolutely, there should be that. But do not, please, do not stop this bill from becoming law in order for that some-day scenario of the ideal world, because how many years has it been since this was initiated in the first place? It took two or three years to truck through the legislative process last time. So we are another year further down the road and we have more and more people with the animals and more and more people in need of that legislation. Once again, just the process of your member bringing this bill back is heightening the awareness within the deaf community and within the community at large about dogs for the disabled.


Mr Hope: But we have a much broader picture that we have to encompass, and that is all I am trying to say. The legislation is a step --

Mrs Stoner: A very singular step.

Mr Hope: But for the whole disabled community we have major steps that we still have to make, because we may provide legislation that provides the assistance of dogs, but again, we still have the general public out there that we have to educate on why, how come. For instance, why can a child not pet the dog, is one of the major educational grounds in the legislation, those who discriminate upon. Because we all know how long it takes to get through on human rights.

Mrs Stoner: But in the first instance, people needed that level of education about seeing-eye dogs, and although there are still people who are ignorant of the legislation that surrounds them, many, many more of us are aware that those are special animals and their harnesses are the visual symbol that tells us, that alerts us, that the seeing-eye dog is allowed on this bus and that sort of thing. In the hearing-ear dog's case, we need to make people aware that the orange lead and the orange collar and the badge that people sometimes optionally wear are the same kinds of signals. It is going to take legislation to make people aware that they have to respond to those visual signals.

Mrs Witmer: I do not have a question, but I would certainly like to express my appreciation to Norah for her initiative in bringing forth this legislation, and I was really pleased to hear the reasons you did so. Certainly I appreciate that, Norah. Thank you very much.

Mrs Stoner: Thank you.

Mr Malkowski: I want to thank you for coming here. I also think it is a good point that you have talked about making this a government bill as opposed to a private member's, and talking about the expansion of legislation such as that. Is that something you would strongly recommend then, that we expand on this type of bill and that we bring in government legislation to that effect?

Mrs Stoner: I would recommend that this bill before you today receive approval from this committee, and I would hope it would receive approval in third reading in the House. I would, at the same time, concurrently, hope there would be legislation created by the government that would override both the Blind Persons' Rights Act and the Deaf Persons' Rights Act to create a disabled persons' rights act that would cover everybody. But as I said before, please do not make this bill wait for that possibility.

The Vice-Chair: I would like to thank you again, Norah, for appearing before us.

Mrs Stoner: Thanks for the invitation.

The Vice-Chair: You are welcome.

Mrs Stoner: Good luck with it all.

The Vice-Chair: We would like to move rapidly along here. To members of the committee, we do not have any amendments that have been put forward. I would like to call Mr Abel to make a few comments before we proceed with clause-by-clause. Mr Abel, would you like to come before the committee and make a few comments before we delve into clause-by-clause? Welcome to the committee, Mr Abel.

Mr Abel: Thank you. I was not prepared to speak today. I was under the impression that I was going to speak tomorrow. I came as an observer.

I came at a very good time. I was able to hear Mrs Stoner's thoughts and comments, and without getting into a lot of reiteration, I wholeheartedly support her comments. I do strongly feel that it would be a shame to let this bill just slowly drift away while we wait for an umbrella type of legislation to deal with it. People with hearing problems have been discriminated against for years. I myself have a partial hearing problem and I find it very difficult at times. I just cannot begin to imagine how people who are totally deaf are able to get through without some assistance, that being a hearing-ear dog. Things I have said during the debate in the House, simple things such as a baby crying, a fire alarm, things like that -- I think that is all very important. It is long overdue and, yes, perhaps as an interim measure, I think this bill should be passed through the Legislature.

Yes, I too would like to see an expansion on it. Animals have been trained to do things for people with other disabilities and I think it is terrific that we are looking at considering an expansion on the bill. But we need this legislation now and, even if it takes a year for a broader scope or a broader type of legislation to come out, well, at least these people with hearing difficulties have had the benefit of this bill for a year. So that is really all I have to say. I am sorry; I am totally unprepared. As I said, I thought I was going to speak tomorrow, but the sooner we get on with this the better, so thank you for your time.

The Vice-Chair: Thank you, Mr Abel.

Mr Beer: I just think it would be appropriate, Mr Chair, as we are noting that this bill and its predecessor are the result of many people and also different political parties, to just underline again that we are also indebted to the member for Wentworth North, out of his own interest, but also picking up on what a previous member had done. I think sometimes there are a number of things we do around here that demonstrate that kind of collegiality and that this is the place to say thank you to a lot of people. I think the reason we have perhaps brought you here unprepared to speak shows that we all accept the brilliance of what is in the bill and we want to get on with it, as Norah Stoner said earlier, and pass it. Thank you.

The Vice-Chair: If we can proceed and simply say thank you once again for appearing before the committee, Mr Abel. Shall we proceed with clause-by-clause, members of the committee? Bill 22, An Act to provide for Certain Rights for Deaf Persons.

Sections 1 to 7, inclusive, agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill ordered to be reported.

The Chair: The bill is now carried and we are thus adjourned until we have further notice. I would like to thank everyone for -- this is a model way to participate, despite the fire alarms. Thank you very much, members of the committee. We are adjourned.

The committee adjourned at 1719.