Toward a harmonized approach to animal welfare law in Canada

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Animal protection law in Canada varies across the country. Federal animal protection law exists in the Criminal Code, in regulations for the transport of animals, and in regulations for humane handling and slaughter at abattoirs that are inspected by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Provincial animal protection laws often include provisions that i) describe a duty of care toward animals; ii) prohibit causing or permitting animal “distress;” iii) specify exemptions from prosecution; and iv) reference various national and other standards. Inconsistencies lead to duplication of effort, create difficulty in working across jurisdictions, and may erode public trust. A more consistent approach might be achieved by i) referencing a common suite of standards in provincial statutes; ii) citing the federal transport and humane slaughter regulations in provincial regulations; iii) establishing agreements so provincial authorities may enforce federal regulations; iv) wider and more uniform adoption of enforcement tools that require people to take immediate action to protect animal welfare; v) developing new standards; and vi) national consultation to define frequently used terms.


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