Ontario given a year to revise animal welfare legislation

Policy: News Roundup from the February 2019 issue of Canadian Cattlemen

Ontario’s Superior Court has ruled that the province must revamp legislation governing enforcement and inspection of animal welfare complaints in the next year, Stew Slater of Farmtario reports. Unless the province’s Attorney General appeals, the revised legislation will have to include reasonable oversight and accountability. Under the current legislation, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is responsible for enforcing the legislation. But because the Ontario SPCA is a charity, farmers don’t have the same recourse they would with other enforcement organizations such as the police, Slater writes.

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Paralegal Jeffrey Bogaerts initially submitted the application that sparked the ruling. He was later joined by animal welfare law specialist Kurt Andrews. Activist organization Animal Justice was granted intervener status in the case.

What does it mean for Ontario producers? Ontario SPCA will continue its work for now, but lawyers currently handling animal welfare cases may refer to this ruling. The government is likely to appeal, Slater writes. And given animal rights groups’ interest in the case, Slater adds, producers should provide feedback on what they want animal welfare enforcement to look like in the future.

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