October 2019
Government Introduces Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019

2019-10-31 2:05:53 PM

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The government has introduced Bill 136, Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019. If passed, it would create a new enforcement regime resulting in the toughest penalties in the country for those who violate animal welfare laws.

The Bill proposes the following penalties for violations:

  • Individual offenders committing minor offences under the Act can be fined up to $100,000, a maximum of imprisonment term of 1 year, or both

  • Individual offenders for major offences can be fined up to $260,000, a maximum imprisonment term of two years, or both

  • Corporations for minor offences can be fined up to $250,000

  • Corporations for major offences can be fined up to $1,000,000

  • A minimum penalty of $25,000 for certain offences, such as causing distress of an animal resulting in death


The government has yet to state how this new regime will be funded.

Known as the PAWS Act, the legislation was developed after a ruling by the Superior Court in January that deemed it to be unconstitutional for private charities, like the Ontario Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA), to enforce public animal protection laws. Prior to this, OSPCA had been enforcing laws on behalf of the province since 1919 until the organization told the government they would no longer be the enforcer in March.  

If passed, the PAWS Act would go into effect on January 1st, 2020.

Below is a summary of proposals that may be of relevance to local governments. Please note that any reference to Minister refers to Ontario’s Solicitor General.

Section 2: Chief Animal Welfare Inspector
It is proposed that the Minister appoint a Chief Animal Inspector, as well as a deputy Chief Animal Welfare Inspectors if needed who will act in the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector is absent or unable to act.

The Chief Animal Welfare Inspector will appoint animal welfare inspectors.

Section 3: Minister’s Duties
The Minister will monitor the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector, handle any complaints about the role, and may establish policies and direction to the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector.

Section 4: Provision of Information
A public sector institution, such as a municipal government or municipally-controlled corporation, that employs animal welfare inspectors will provide the Chief Animal Inspector with information that:

  • Is related to the administration of this Act

  • Is for the purpose of compiling information, including statistical information, to analyze the following:

    • The management or allocation of resources related to the Act;

    • The planning for the delivery of programs and services related to the Act; or

    • The evaluation of those programs and services.


Details relating to the frequency and manner will be determined in the regulations.

Section 5: Animal Welfare Inspectors
The Chief Animal Welfare Inspector may appoint a person who is employed by a public sector institution, if the individual meets the prescribed requirements.

The Chief Animal Welfare Inspector, in a document appointing the animal welfare inspector, record the name of the public sector institution, such as a municipality, that employs the inspector.

If the inspector is no longer an employer of the institution, the animal welfare inspector’s appointment will be immediately terminated.

Section 9: Public Complaints
Any person can make a compliant in writing to the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector about their conduct.

Complaints regarding conduct by animal inspectors will be made to the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector while complaints about the conduct of the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector will be made to the Minister.

The Chief Animal Welfare Inspector and Minister will investigate complaints they believe warrant an investigation.

Section 23: Inspection to determine compliance
Animal welfare inspectors may enter and inspect places to ensure compliance with the Act and may apply for warrants to enter certain places, unless the occupant of a dwelling consents to entry. Inspectors can obtain a warrant to inspect a place if there is sufficient reason to believe the Act is not being complied with.

Police officers may be called upon for assistance in executing the warrant. Animal inspectors and any police officers called may use of whatever force is reasonably necessary to execute the warrant. 

Section 24: Powers during inspection
Inspection powers include the power to inspect certain animals or thing, ask questions relevant to the inspection, enter and search a place with the consent of the occupier if they reasonably believe an animal is in distress, and call the police to assist in taking possession of an animal if orders relating to a distressed animal is not complied with.

Any entry under section 23 may only be made between 9am and 5pm, or at any other time when the place is open to the public.

Owners or custodians are liable for the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector’s expenses in providing necessaries to animals in the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector’s care.

Section 35: Abandoned animal
If the Chief Animal Inspector takes an animal into their care under the Act and no person is identified as the animal’s owner or custodian, the animal is forfeited to the Crown.

Section 36: Animal Care Review Board
The Animal Care Review Board will continue under this legislation and will consist of at least three people who will be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor General.

Section 37: Appeal to Board
An owner or custodian of any animal may appeal the following to the Board within five days of receiving notice of:

  • An order from an animal welfare inspector

  • A decision by an inspector to remove an animal from a place

  • A decision to take an animal into the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector’s care


Section 43: Seizure
Any dead animal, plant, or other organism that is seized is forfeited to the Crown

Section 65: Conflict with municipal by-laws
Where there is a conflict between a provision or regulation of this Act and a municipal-by law relating to the welfare or prevention of cruelty to animals, the provision that provides the greater protection to animal will prevail.

For more information, please see below:

Bill 136: Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019

Ontario Newsroom: Ontario Adopts New Animal Welfare System

Global News: Ontario government to introduce new animal welfare legislation


 


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