In Canada, both federal and provincial governments have animal cruelty laws.
At the federal level, animal cruelty is governed by Sections 444 to 447 of the Criminal Code of Canada. In 1999, Justice Minister Anne McLellan tabled Bill C-17, a bill designed to modernize and improve those sections of the Criminal Code. In the ensuing 10 years, Animal Alliance lobbied the federal government to adopt protective animal cruelty laws and worked with other animal protection organizations to pressure the government. Minister McLellan’s bill died on the order paper when an election was called, and similar government bills were reintroduced multiple times, but failed to become law due to prorogations and elections. Sections 444 to 447 of the Criminal Code of Canada remain outdated and insufficient to protect animals subjected to abuse and cruelty.
MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith introduced a private member’s bill, Bill C-246 but it was defeated in 2016. The bill would have consolidated three previous pieces of legislation related to animal welfare:
- Ban the importation of shark fins that have been removed from a shark carcass.
- Strengthen and modernize the Criminal Code’s existing animal cruelty offences.
- Ban the sale of cat and dog fur in Canada, and require source fur labelling.
How You Can Help
Please write, visit and/or phone your Member of Parliament in support of updated anti-cruelty legislation. You can find your Member of Parliament using your postal code.
Provincial animal welfare acts exempt most animal use industries.
Alberta’s Animal Protection Act exempts animal care, management and husbandry, hunting, fishing, trapping, pest control and slaughter from the prohibition causing distress.
The Manitoba Animal Care Act considers suffering, injury, harm, anxiety or distress acceptable for animals in agricultural, exhibitions and fairs, zoological displays, slaughter, medical care, animal discipline and training, protection of people or property, sporting events, fishing and hunting, trapping, research and teaching involving animals, pest and predator control; euthanasia of animals; and any other activity designated by the regulations as an accepted activity.
The required standards for animal care contained in the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act do not apply to agricultural animals. Other classes of animals, animals living in prescribed circumstances or conditions or prescribed activities, may also be exempt with the result that most animal use activities do not have to meet basic standards of care and are exempt from provincial animal cruelty charges. In addition the Act exempts activities causing distress to wildlife in the wild, including fish; agricultural animals or prescribed classes of animals or animals living in prescribed circumstances or conditions, or prescribed activities.
In collaboration with Zoocheck Canada, AAC has produced a report that is intended to assist the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services in modernizing and improving Ontario’s
animal welfare system.
The Nova Scotia Act to Protect Animals does not apply to wildlife that is not in captivity, agricultural animals or animals used for research and testing.