Sunday, August 3, 2014


BC Farm Animals Laws Lag Much of the Country

Chilliwack the poster child for needed animal welfare act amendments

Released by Lori Chortyk, SPCA Vancouver


SPCA handout photo


anada’s standards for farm animals are set to take another significant step forward after an announcement from the federal government for new financial contributions to improving Canada’s Codes of Practice for Farm Animals.

The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS) and British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) are welcoming this news with optimism that new standards for poultry will follow in the steps of the new Pig Code, which requires the lifelong confinement of pigs to be phased out over ten years.

“The CFHS and BC SPCA proudly work to improve the welfare of animals through the National Farm Animal Care Council,” says Barbara Cartwright, CEO of the CFHS. “In the past year we have secured significant new animal welfare requirements for pigs, horses, cattle and sheep.”

The announcement from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada supports the completion of two new Codes of Practice for the poultry sectors – one for egg-laying hens and another for chickens and turkeys raised for meat. It also funds the development of three new Codes for other sectors. Among the most outdated current Codes is the Veal Code, published in 1998.

The announcement is timely as animal agriculture industry is facing increased publicity of poor treatment of farm animals across the country. Most recently, horrific abuse of cows on a Chilliwack, British Columbia dairy farm was publically exposed in June. The provincial government has begun to examine what more needs to be done to implement minimum standards for farms by regulation as the B.C. Crown Counsel reviews the BC SPCA’s recommendations for charges.

“In five provinces, the Codes of Practice have been referenced in animal protection law, but B.C. is not yet among them,” says Geoff Urton, manager of stakeholder relations at the BC SPCA. “We have been working with the Ministry of Agriculture with the support of the dairy industry to advance that recommendation for B.C.”

Currently Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador reference the Codes of Practices in their provincial animal protection laws.

As in other provinces, the B.C. Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act refers only to allowing “reasonable and generally accepted practices of animal management” leaving the courts to interpret this term broadly. The Code of Practice for Dairy Cattle was published in 2009; Dairy Farmers of Canada are now working to roll out an assurance program to ensure it is being adhered to on farms.

Canada’s Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals lay out national expectations for animal welfare as arrived at by consensus between the farmers, veterinarians, scientists, government agencies, and SPCAs and humane societies who are members of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC).

The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada press release is available here.

Fast Code Facts

• Canada’s Codes of Practice for farm animal welfare were initiated by the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CHFS)

• As a recognized leader in farm animal welfare, the BC SPCA plays a national leadership role on farm animal initiatives in partnership with the CFHS

• The Code process is managed by the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) in partnership with the Canadian Animal Health Coalition, and funded by the Government of Canada.

• NFACC’s process is unique in the world for its collaboration amongst diverse stakeholders.

• In the last 12 months, six new Codes have been published: pigs, equines (horse, donkeys, ponies), beef cattle, sheep, farmed mink, and farmed fox

• Chickens and turkeys make up the vast majority (roughly 95%) of all farm animals raised in Canada each year


Additional Links


Canadian Federation of Humane Societies

National Farm Animal Care Council

Canadian Animal Health Coalition

Growing Forward 2 (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)

AgriMarketing Program (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada)




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