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Federal Legislation

There are three main federal acts pertaining to the welfare of farm animals in Canada:

Health of Animals Act and Regulations contains requirements for animals in transport.

Meat Inspection Act and Regulations contains requirements for the slaughter of farm animals.

Criminal Code contains basic requirements for the humane treatment of animals and the prevention of cruelty to animals.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which comes under Agriculture Canada, is responsible for enforcing the Meat Inspection and Health of Animals Regulations. SPCAs, humane societies and/or police officers are responsible for enforcing the animal cruelty sections of the Criminal Code.

The Health of Animals Regulations, enacted almost 40 years ago, prohibit the transport of ill or injured animals to prevent undue suffering and establish minimum requirements for humane transport. Approximately 10 years ago, the CFIA began consultations to amend these regulations, but changes have still not been officially published. Click here to read more about the regulations and the CFHS’ recommendations.

The biggest concern the CFHS has with both the Meat Inspection Regulations and the Health of Animal Regulations is lack of enforcement. News reports in recent years have revealed shocking deficiencies in enforcement of animal welfare and even food safety regulations. It is clear that funding to the CFIA must be substantially increased so that more inspectors can be hired and trained to effectively enforce these regulations.

Provincial Legislation & the Codes of Practice

Each province has an animal protection act that sets out general standards of care for animals and prohibits causing animals to be in distress, etc.

The CFHS would like to see these provincial acts refer to the national Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals, thereby mandating adherence to the codes. Without this, the codes are only voluntary guidelines. Currently, only Manitoba and Nova Scotia have incorporated these codes of practice into their laws.

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