Ontario's New Animal Welfare Laws Would Be The Strictest In The Whole Country
First-time offenders could face fines of up to $130,000 and two years jail-time.
In a news release on Tuesday morning, the Ontario provincial government announced that they would be introducing stronger legislation to protect animals from abuse and neglect in the province, by proposing the country’s strongest ever penalties for those who hurt and neglect animals. If passed, Ontario's new animal welfare laws would become the strictest in Canada.
It was announced on Tuesday morning that Doug Ford’s provincial government would be introducing new legislation to better protect animals in the province of Ontario. The government is proposing much stronger punishments for offenders and a more “robust enforcement system” to ensure they are charged.
The proposed legislation, known as the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 would improve animal welfare by introducing and implementing several new offences, that would prohibit animal cruelty.
One of the biggest changes would be allowing provincial inspectors to take over from humane societies, who have been enforcing animal cruelty laws since the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) said it would no longer investigate and enforce animal cruelty laws in June 2019.
As well as handing over animal cruelty investigations to provincial officers, the new legislation also proposes to: introduce new offences to combat activities such as dog fighting, significantly increase penalties for serious, repeat and corporate offenders, and improve oversight and ensure increased transparency and accountability.
As well as the proposed legislative changes, the provincial government intends to employ more local inspectors to ensure stronger coverage across the region, including separate specialists in livestock, agriculture, horses, zoos and aquariums.
Speaking in a news release, Parliamentary Assistant Christine Hogarth explained, “The PAWS Act would introduce the strongest penalties in Canada for offenders. This made-in-Ontario model demonstrates that our government understands how significant the well-being of animals is to the people of this province."
If the bill is passed, Ontario would then have the strongest penalties and punishments for animal cruelty in the whole of Canada. Significantly, Ontario would be the first and only jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full, provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement model.
Moreover, under the PAWS Act, first-time offenders could face fines of up to $130,000 and two years jail-time. Repeat offenders could receive fines of up to $260,000, and corporations could face up to $1-million.
This is considerably higher than some other parts of the country, and would even include charges for contravening the basic standards of care for animals.
The legislation is expected to be introduced later today by Solicitor General Sylvia Jones.
If it is passed, the province will begin to implement the new system on January 1, 2020.