On September 9, 2019, the Ministry of Education released Policy/Program Memorandum No. 163 (“PPM 163”) requiring all Ontario school boards to implement service animal policies by January 1, 2020. PPM 163 also outlines what the service animal policies must contain.
Prior to the 2019-2020 school year, educators, students, and parents had very little access to guidance on the safe and inclusive introduction of service animals into the school environment. There was no provincial legislation on the matter specifically aimed at schools and, as recently as September 2019, only just over half of all Ontario school boards had implemented service animal policies.
The Ontario Government decided to remedy this deficiency and, on April 13, 2019, it passed Bill 48, Safe and Supportive Classrooms Act, 2018. Among other things, this bill amended the Education Act, authorizing the Minister of Education to establish policies and guidelines respecting service animals in schools.
After circulating a draft policy/program memorandum in April 2019, the final version of PPM 163 was published on September 9, 2019. Ontario school boards are now required to have complied with PPM 163 by January 1, 2020 by implementing their own policies respecting student use of service animals in schools.