Ontario's New Animal Welfare Model
The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act is a made-in-Ontario animal welfare model which, if passed, will better protect animals in the province.
New Enforcement Model
The new enforcement model would establish a provincial enforcement team made up of a chief inspector, locally deployed provincial inspectors and specialized inspectors for agriculture, zoos, aquariums and equines. Inspectors would conduct:
Outreach and education on animal care best practices and how to be compliant with the legislation
- Proactive, risk-based inspections, including, for example, of zoos and aquariums
- Reactive inspections to respond to animal welfare concerns
- Investigations to collect information and evidence and determine whether to lay charges.
The new enforcement approach would also provide resources to support investigations, including:
- Ontario Provincial Police regional specialized capacity for animal welfare
- Providing resources for crowns to support successful animal welfare prosecutions.
Modernized Legislative Framework
The Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act would be repealed and replaced with the PAWS Act. If passed, the new act would:
Establish prohibitions, offences and requirements (e.g., compliance with prescribed standards of care)
Introduce penalties that would be the strongest in Canada, and focus on non-compliance and repeat offenders and would differentiate between individuals and corporations
Require veterinarians, and enable requiring others through regulations, to report animal abuse to the province
Allow inspectors, as well as others to be prescribed in regulation, to enter motor vehicles to address the issue of pets in critical distress in hot cars
Outline the duties and powers of the chief inspector as well as powers provided to inspectors and others such as police and First Nation constables
Provide inspectors with the specific powers they need to carry out their duties, instead of broad, police-like powers that were provided under the OSPCA Act
Establish regulation-making authority such as enabling the government to develop regulations that prohibit certain animals or procedures, or require a license to possess or breed certain animals
|Penalty Type||Existing Penalties||New Proposed Penalties|
More serious offences
Causing or permitting distress, animal fighting, contravening standards of care, etc.
Individual or corporation
Less serious offences
Knowingly make a false report to an inspector, failure to comply with an order, etc.
Individual or corporation
Modernized Oversight Framework
New oversight mechanisms would include:
- Introducing new complaint mechanisms for inspector conduct, including a one-window system for the public
- Oversight by the Auditor General, Ombudsman, Privacy Commissioner, and freedom of information and protection of privacy legislation
- Continuing the Animal Care Review Board as the body to appeal orders and seizures
- Consistent, comprehensive data collection through a case management data system which will enable measurement of progress against outcomes, identify emerging system issues and predict and plan for risk.