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Ontario Adopts New Animal Welfare System

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Ontario Adopts New Animal Welfare System

Made-In-Ontario Model Offers More Inspectors and Stronger Penalties

Ministry of the Solicitor General

TORONTO — Today, Ontario is introducing legislation to better protect animals from abuse and neglect by proposing the strongest penalties in Canada for offenders, and a more robust enforcement system.

"We made a commitment to take action and develop a modern animal welfare enforcement system to keep animals safe. I am proud to say we are delivering on that commitment with new legislation that includes the toughest penalties in Canada," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "Ontarians can be confident the government is proposing a system that will better protect animals from negligent care."

The proposed Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 would improve animal welfare by:

  • Introducing new offences to combat activities such as dog fighting;
  • Giving inspectors necessary powers to help animals in distress and to hold owners accountable;
  • Giving government the ability to empower others, beyond inspectors, to take action when an animal is in imminent risk of serious injury or death when a pet is left in a hot car;
  • Significantly increasing penalties for serious, repeat and corporate offenders. These new penalties would be the strongest in Canada; 
  • Improving oversight and ensuring increased transparency and accountability, including establishing a one-window complaints mechanism for the public; and
  • Establishing a multi-disciplinary advisory table made up of a wide range of experts, including veterinarians, agriculture representatives, academics, animal advocates and others to provide ongoing advice to the ministry to improve animal welfare. 

As well as the proposed legislative changes, the system will be strengthened by hiring more provincial inspectors to ensure better coverage across the province, including specialists in livestock, agriculture, horses, zoos and aquariums. 

"The PAWS Act would introduce the strongest penalties in Canada for offenders and make Ontario the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement model," said Parliamentary Assistant Christine Hogarth. "This made-in-Ontario model demonstrates that our government understands how significant the well-being of animals is to the people of this province."

The proposed new animal welfare system was developed based on input from municipalities, police, industry, technical experts, veterinarian organizations, animal sheltering and advocacy organizations, and the public. 

If passed, the government would continue to work with partners to ensure the best protection and support for animals.

Quick Facts

  • Concerns about animal distress or abuse can be reported to the Ontario Animal Protection Call Centre at 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625).
  • Nearly 17,000 people responded to a public survey earlier this year asking how animal welfare in Ontario could be improved.
  • After over 100 years of enforcing the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act, the OSPCA stopped providing enforcement services as of June 28, 2019.
  • In June, the government passed the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Amendment Act (Interim Period), 2019, a temporary measure to keep animals safe during the transition to the new animal welfare model.

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