Today the government introduced amendments to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) Act to ensure animals remain protected during the transition to an improved animal protection enforcement system. The government has previously committed to a new system that is more robust, transparent, and accountable. This is a temporary measure to minimize gaps in enforcement after the OSPCA gave less than one month’s notice they were withdrawing the animal protection services they had provided for over 100 years.This step follows a letter from the OSPCA’s Chief Executive Officer to the Solicitor General indicating the OSPCA intended to be in contravention of legislation by not having a Chief Inspector in place. The OSPCA Act expressly states that “[t]he Society shall appoint an employee of the Society as the Chief Inspector”.
“Last week we empowered local OSPCA affiliates who indicated a willingness to assist in the transition to continue protecting animals during the interim period,” said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. “Unfortunately the OSPCA has attempted to block these helpful affiliates by contravening existing legislation. This is extremely disappointing. Frankly, it puts animals in harm’s way. That’s why our government is taking decisive action to ensure animals remain protected while we design a better system.”
The legislation, if passed, would allow the province to appoint a Chief Inspector, who could in turn appoint qualified local inspectors, including local OSPCA affiliates, to ensure animal protection enforcement continues.
“Allowing animals to go unprotected is simply unacceptable,” said Jones. “I know the people of Ontario support our government’s commitment to develop a better animal protection enforcement system. We’re going to deliver on our promise to improve the system, and we’ll take the time to ensure we reflect the ideas that come forward from people across Ontario. Building the first new enforcement system in 100 years will take time, but we’re going to ensure we get it right.”
While work is already under way to develop a better long-term system, Ontario is seeking public feedback through an online survey to ensure the people of Ontario have the opportunity to share their thoughts to help improve animal protection. This feedback will directly inform Ontario’s new model.
- The OSPCA has provided animal welfare protection services in Ontario for over 100 years. On March 4, 2019, they provided the province less than 30 days’ notice that they intended to discontinue those services as of March 31, 2019.
- An agreement was reached between Ontario and the OSPCA to extend animal welfare law enforcement services until June 28, 2019. The OSPCA has refused to extend that agreement until January 2020, when a new system will be in place.
- Earlier this month, the government filed a regulation to empower willing OSPCA affiliates to continue animal protection enforcement on a temporary basis. This step followed expressions of interest from numerous affiliates who had stepped forward to offer their assistance.
- For reasons that remain unclear, the OSPCA indicated in a letter to the Solicitor General they would contravene S.6(1) of the OSPCA Act, which would block the interim measure to ensure animal protection laws continue to be enforced.