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e-2410 (Animals)

Initiated by Shelley Grainger from Annan, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

  • Horses are air shipped from Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg to Japan for human consumption;
  • According to Statistics Canada, from January to November 2019, 2,686 horses were air shipped to Japan for slaughter for human consumption;
  • 3 to 4 horses are loaded into crates smaller than a single horse stall;
  • Section 141.8 of the Health of Animals Regulations says horses over 14 hands (56”) must be segregated from all other animals for air transport;
  • Many horses being air shipped are large draft types over 17 hands (68”), contravening the Health of Animals Regulations;
  • The International Air Transport Association (IATA) sets out standards for Live Animals Regulations, stipulating that horses must be shipped individually and have sufficient head clearance;
  • IATA only allows exceptions for small polo ponies or Icelandic horses to be shipped in modified horse containers without partitions;
  • Large draft horses can be 3 times the size of such ponies, therefore contravening IATA regulations;
  • Videos taken at Canadian and Japanese airports show many horses in these crates don’t have sufficient head clearance, with their heads touching the roofs and ears protruding through the crates, contravening IATA regulations; and
  • Flights are 10.5 to 13.5 hours long. Additional hours must be considered for ground transportation, loading into crates, and loading and unloading crates from planes. During this time, horses have no access to food or water.
We, the undersigned, Citizens of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to halt air shipments of horses exported for human consumption, due to the ongoing violation of Canadian and IATA regulations.

Response by the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, PC, MP

The Government of Canada takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously and is very conscious of the need for the humane treatment and handling of animals throughout all life stages.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) ensures that farm animal welfare is science-based and relates to two distinct areas of its operating mandate: transportation and slaughter. Under its federal mandate, the role of the CFIA is to verify that livestock is transported, handled, and slaughtered in a humane manner.

Modernized humane transportation regulations came into effect on February 20, 2020. These regulations reflect updated requirements such as container construction, prevention of overcrowding and the compatibility of the animals being shipped to support the safe and humane transport of livestock by carriers (including air).

The requirement for the segregation of horses over 14 hands, which appears in the previous version of the Health of Animals Regulations, has been replaced with requirements which take into account the compatibility of the animals, rather than a specified height.

The current version of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations provide a draft horse exemption to the container requirements. Live horse shipments by air are being inspected for compliance with the current Health of Animals and IATA regulations. CFIA veterinarians and inspectors are present at each air shipment of horses and verify industry compliance prior to departure. The updated regulations also lowered the maximum times that horses can be transported without feed, water and rest. The CFIA is currently focusing on compliance promotion for the feed, water and rest provisions of the regulations that reduce the maximum time for horses to 28 hours. The shipments from the Calgary, Edmonton and Winnipeg airports are able to comply with the requirements.

Open for signature
February 6, 2020, at 9:54 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
June 5, 2020, at 9:54 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York)
June 17, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00277)
Government response tabled
September 24, 2020
Photo - Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Beaches—East York
Liberal Caucus