Medical condition shouldn’t be a barrier to employment

Saanich woman turned down for jobs because of her service dog

Dealing with a life-altering medical condition is something most of us will never have to deal with. We can only hope that we as a society can do whatever we can to lessen the challenges so many are facing.

But the attitudes held by many in society can make their situations even more difficult.

Saanich’s Tessa Hawkins is an example in point. Hawkins is a talented and highly educated professional, holding a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria and a masters from the University of Alberta. She also suffers from epilepsy, and that condition has proven to be a barrier to using her skills to earn a living.

Hawkins has the assistance of a full-time working dog. Merlot, her two-year-old flat coat retriever, will bark, seek help or retrieve Hawkins’ phone in case of a seizure.

But while Merlot has helped to improve Hawkins’ quality of life, the idea of a service dog has not always gone over well with prospective employers. A friend of Hawkins sat on the panel for one of her job interviews and told her the guide dog was a factor in why she wasn’t chosen for the job.

“As soon as I am labelled as ‘disabled’ with my guide dog, my ability to work is called into question regardless of what is on my resume and my successful employment and academic history,” Hawkins wrote to the minister of social development.

And Hawkins is not alone. The Saanich News has received letters from others who have faced discrimination as a result of a medical condition and use of a service dog.

The new B.C. Guide Dog and Service Dog Act came into effect this year and will upgrade several rules. This legislation will likely eliminate some obstacles for those using a service dog but it won’t ultimately solve the problem faced by Hawkins and others. Those with medical conditions shouldn’t have to initiate legal action to get a job where the working environment has already been negatively affected.

Unfortunately, compassion cannot be legislated. It is up to us as a society to see that others are judged on their merits, and not what may or may not be at the other end of a leash.


Just Posted

Hundreds rally in support of horse carriages outside Victoria City Hall

Crowd angry with Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban local horse carriage industry

New virgin queen headlines ‘Bee Day’ at Saanich sanctuary

Taste bee spit and check out the hive at Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary this Sunday

Rifflandia Festival cancelled for 2019

Early Bird tickets can be refunded at point of purchase, or held and redeemed for 2020

Five-month bridge closure poses early impacts on drivers during rush hour

Construction began Tuesday on the crossing commonly known as the Bay Street bridge

Several hundred SD 62 students team up to clean the shoreline

Effort aimed at keeping Esquimalt and Albert Head Lagoon trash-free

VIDEO: Canadian, U.S. Coast guards run oil spill response drills

20 vessels were on the water to practice international response methods

POLL: Were you satisfied with the Game of Thrones series finale?

Millions gathered in front of their televisions Sunday night to watch the… Continue reading

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of May 21

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

B.C. Supreme Court dismisses review around ferry workers’ right to strike

B.C. Ferry and Marine Workers’ Union collective agreement expires November 2020

Young Victoria distillery earns prestigious Scotch awards

Scottish influences range from techniques to ‘kilted tours’ at award-winning business

Municipalities protest after B.C. declares marijuana crops ‘farm use’

UBCM president seeks answers in letter to John Horgan government

CMHC defends mortgage stress test changes amid calls for loosening rules

Uninsured borrowers must now show they could service their mortgage if rates rose two per cent

Brewpub offers ‘boat valet’ for paddlers during Surfrider celebration tonight

Free ‘Surf Formal’ evening features a local art auction, door prizes, live music

Most Read