OSPCA will no longer enforce animal welfare legislation

Mar 4 2019, 7:17 pm

The OSPCA says it has informed the Ontario government that it will no longer enforce animal welfare legislation once its contract expires at the end of March.

According to the agency, the OSPCA and Humane Society is offering “a new operational model where it supplies animal-related expertise to the Ontario Government as a support service to enforcement agencies, similar to the ASPCA model in the United States.”

Their present contract expires on March 31, and the OSPCA has offered a 3-month transitional phase, which it says could see the charity continue service to June 28, 2019.

Currently, enforcement represents about 20% of the OSPCA’s services and is governed by a 100-year-old piece of legislation called the OSPCA Act.

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An Ontario Superior Court Judge recently created a new legal principle by ruling that “it is unconstitutional for the Province of Ontario to enact legislation that permits a private charity to have policing powers without government oversight.”

The OSPCA says it didn’t take part in the court case, which is currently being appealed by the Ontario government.

“We want to see a system in place that provides maximum protection for animals. The Ontario SPCA is a 146-year-old animal charity. Our expertise, working as a support service to enforcement agencies, will be a powerful combination in enforcement and we believe the right combination to best protect animals,” said Kate MacDonald, Chief Executive Officer, Ontario SPCA.

“Enforcement is the responsibility of government, one that we can confidently support by offering animal protection services to enforcement agencies.”

MacDonald said that being an outside agency, the OSPCA has been under-resourced to provide legislation enforcement.

“We have struggled to meet the need and have struggled with both Officer safety and, at times, conflicts with our charitable mission. It is simply not in the interests of animals or this charity to continue along the same path,” said MacDonald.

The Ontario SPCA says it will also draft its recommendations for a new Ontario Animal Protection Act.

These recommendations will assist the government in proclaiming legislation that will provide the maximum protection of animals, according to the OSPCA.

“This work will allow us to keep pace with updated thinking regarding the value of animals and the social justice that we, and the public, see as a priority for animals,” says Brian Shiller, General Counsel, Ontario SPCA.

Animal Justice says it supports this move by the Ontario SPCA.

“Change doesn’t always come easily, but it is necessary. It’s clear that our animal law enforcement system must evolve to keep pace with the 21st century,” said Camille Labchuk, Executive Director, Animal Justice. “We are committed to working with the Ontario SPCA and the provincial government to help develop a robust, well-resourced public enforcement model that puts animals first.”

The Ontario SPCA is one of the largest animal organizations in the country, with 146 years of expertise in providing care and shelter for tens of thousands of animals every year in over 40 communities.

The agency prevents cruelty to animals and promotes animal advocacy, providing humane education, sheltering, fostering and adoptions, crisis intervention, animal rescue and mobile veterinary services.