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Changes to the Ontario Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act

On June 2, 2019, there was a rare Sunday debate held in the Ontario legislature on changes to the Ontario Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
 
Over the years, livestock commodity organizations have worked with the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) to develop a farm animal protection strategy. It has been a difficult process, but livestock commodity organizations have worked together to improve a flawed regulatory process operating under an underfunded independent system that wasn’t working for anyone. 
 
The situation reached a final obstacle when Ontario courts gave the provincial government one year to develop new legislation to address the current situation of OSPCA agents and staff having the authority of a police officer, but without proper civilian oversight.
 
The Ford government has introduced interim legislation that allows Ontario’s Solicitor General to appoint a chief inspector for the OSPCA, a position that is currently appointed by the charitable organization itself.
 
As the deputy leader of the Official Opposition and a former dairy farmer, I made it abundantly clear that although we supported this proposed legislative change.   It is only an initial step.  We implored the Ford government to use this opportunity to draft legislation to strengthen and define the Act, while offering consideration to other issues facing farm families and animal welfare.
 
Recently, several incidents have occurred where animal rights activists have trespassed on farms that progressed to the point where animals were removed.  In one situation, charges were laid but were subsequently dropped. The farmers and their families felt violated and unprotected. Animal welfare is an emotional issue regardless of the person’s perspective, and behavior fueled by emotion could lead to a tragic situation. 
 
In a democratic society, people of opposing views have the right to express their opinion, but those freedoms do not extend to impeding the rights of those who are abiding by the law.
 
I urge the government to consult with all animal welfare stakeholders to ensure they understand what protections are provided under Ontario law. To properly enable new animal welfare legislation, adequate funding for training and enforcement is paramount. As the official Opposition, the NDP will work with the government and Ontarians to enact and enhance legislation that protects the welfare of farm animals, and the people who care for them, and we will fulfill our duty to hold them to account if they fail to do so. 
Source : JohnVanthof