Legislative initiatives

Legislative initiatives

A mandate of the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals is to increase legislation to protect animals on the farm.

Currently there is no legislation in Canada governing the treatment of animals on farms. The Criminal Code of Canada and provincial animal protection acts do not address intensive confinement practices on farms. Rather, these provincial acts and the Criminal Code address only the most egregious acts of cruelty such as starvation or dragging an animal behind a vehicle.

Canadian governments have deferred their authority to protect farm animals, instead promoting voluntary codes of practice. Some codes are years out of date and thus not reflective of current scientific thinking on animal care and behaviour. Historically, the codes have been developed by committees dominated by industry, which decides on permissible practices.

While the codes contain practical information, they are unsatisfactory from a welfare standpoint because they condone intensive confinement practices, including battery hen cages, crates for veal calves and crates for pregnant sows – all inhumane, but standard industry practices in Canada. Copies of the codes of practice are available at this link.

There are few provisions for enforcement of the codes, and no provision for audits. In a few provinces – Manitoba, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island – the codes are codified in provincial law, but are not regularly enforced or audited.

Meanwhile, jurisdictions outside Canada are legislating against intensive confinement practices. The European Union has directives to ban battery hen cages by 2012 and sow stalls by 2013. Several European nations have already banned battery cages. Several U.S. states, including California, have passed voters’ ballots to ban intensive confinement of farmed animals.