Canada, unlike many other jurisdictions has no federal legislation governing the use of animals in science. In fact, ours is the only G7 country without such legislation or regulatory oversight.Canadian Council on Animal Care Critical Review
Around the world, many millions of animals are used in research, teaching and testing. In some countries, animal use is on the upswing; in others, it is declining. The degree of public acceptance of animal-based experimentation also varies, depending on the particular country. In some nations, including Canada, support for the use of animals in experimentation has been waning over recent decades.
The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) came into being in 1968. In the many decades since, nothing in its structure and little in its approaches has changed substantially. From inception to the present moment, the CCAC has been financed mainly through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR, formerly the Medical Science Research Council) and the Natural Sciences Engineering and Research Council (NSERC). These are federal agencies that are funded directly by the government of Canada, and that report to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Science, respectively.
Yet, despite this notable degree of interconnection and the high level of dependence on subsidy from the public purse, neither the CCAC nor the animal-experimentation facilities it oversees function with any outside scrutiny or participation on the part of the public. Meetings of the CCAC board, as well as the findings of CCAC assessment panels, are bound by secrecy and exempt from outside search under federal Access to Information legislation. The Canadian public is able to discover very little about the governance and oversight of the vast amount of animal-based experimentation carried out in its name and on its dime.
The term “New Approach Methods” refers to research, teaching and testing not based on the use of animals. In 2016, the Netherlands, for example, committed to making the transition to non-animal research.
Here in Canada, however, there is no evidence of similar progress to eliminate or even reduce the use of animals in experimentation, despite the CCAC being active since 1968. Indeed, in this country, even to unearth basic information, such as how many, in what locations and in what ways animals are used in experimentation is no easy task.
In 2019, the most recent year for which published data are available, 4,562,522 animals were reported as used in CCAC-certified institutions.Canadian Council on Animal Care Critical Review
At the same time, public interest in animal welfare, including the use of animals in experimentation, continues to grow. Increasingly, the CCAC finds itself making at least some demonstrable effort to reach out to the general public.
After close examination, we have concluded there are numerous contradictions between the organization’s public claims about what it stands for and the actions it undertakes. In order to analyze
thoroughly some of these contradictions, we will also consult other, more objective sources than the CCAC website. These include: inspection reports of facilities in Canada where animals in research are housed and experimented on; information about the philosophies, procedures and laws that govern equivalent organizations in jurisdictions other than Canada, and opinions and findings of animal experts
outside the purview of the CCAC.
Through these other sources of information and opinion, we will offer a critical comparison of the CCAC’s stated tenets with the day-to-day reality of animal experimentation in the facilities it oversees. Overall, in the following pages our aim is to provide an accurate picture of an organization about which few Canadians know nearly enough, and about which many know nothing at all.
Read the Canadian Council on Animal Care Critical Report now and learn what is being hidden from the public about animal experimentation standards and practices in Canada.
Please donate to support our work to end unethical and unnecessary animal experimentation in Canada.