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e-3961 (Animals)

Initiated by Maureen Boag from Toronto, Ontario

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Undercover videos taken in facilities where animals farmed for food are slaughtered have uncovered extreme animal abuse;
  • Numerous polls show that the majority of Canadians want to know more about where their food comes from and that it is important to Canadians that animals raised for food are treated humanely;
  • Video surveillance in slaughter facilities would assist in making sure that legal requirements and high animal welfare standards are maintained while providing Canadians with valuable information about how their food is produced;
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has limited resources to regulate facilities across Canada and video surveillance would be a cost-effective way of improving compliance with our laws, and ensure animals are treated more humanely;
  • Both the CFIA and the Ministry of Agriculture have agreed that they consider video surveillance to be complementary to the live, on-site monitoring that is currently required; and
  • Israel, France, England, Scotland, Spain and Wales have passed laws making the use of video surveillance mandatory in all slaughter facilities and it is currently under consideration in other countries.
We, the undersigned, Vancouver Humane Society, Montreal SPCA, Humane Society International/Canada, Canadian Horse Defence Coalition, Mercy for Animals, Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals, and citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to commit to a plan to implement video surveillance in federally regulated slaughter facilities with a feed that can be viewed by both CFIA officials and a third party.

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 animal welfare very seriously. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is always open to exploring ways to further enhance its  practices for enforcing the humane treatment laws for which it is responsible.

Laws for animal welfare at federally inspected slaughter facilities and CFIA regulatory compliance surveillance activities

Canada’s laws for the humane slaughter of food animals at federally inspected abattoirs are found in the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR). CFIA drafted  these laws based on current international animal welfare research as well as feedback provided by Canadians and other stakeholders during one of the broadest  consultations ever conducted by the Government of Canada.

In the same way that citizens are responsible for following applicable laws, federally inspected facilities are responsible for following the humane treatment requirements  found in the SFCR. CFIA’s role is to verify compliance.

Before receiving a licence to operate a slaughter facility under the federal regime, abattoir owners or operators must have preventive control plans for animal welfare in  place. These plans must demonstrate, to the satisfaction of CFIA, that the facility is meeting all federal humane handling, stunning and slaughter requirements in the  SFCR. In this way, CFIA verification work begins even before an abattoir is permitted to operate at the federal level.

Once licensed under the federal system, operators can only run slaughter lines when CFIA inspectors and veterinarians are on-site to verify that operators are meeting  their obligation to fulfill all humane treatment requirements found in the SFCR. CFIA on-site staff take this responsibility seriously, and circulate the facility on an ongoing  basis to verify, to the best of their ability, that animals are protected from unnecessary pain and suffering. It is important to recognize that this system yields high compliance. When instances of non-compliance are identified, inspectors are present to address these promptly and effectively.

Reliability of undercover video footage on the internet

When CFIA receives reports of animal cruelty at federally inspected facilities, it takes them seriously and investigates. However, for various reasons, investigations  occasionally reveal that there is no current animal welfare concern. For example, because information can remain online indefinitely, CFIA sometimes receives reports of  situations that have already been investigated and appropriately dealt with. Slaughter practices vary around the world. There are images on the internet depicting  inhumane slaughter practices taking place in other countries that are not permitted under Canadian law.

Video monitoring in federally inspected slaughter facilities in Canada

Any changes CFIA makes to surveillance activities must conform to Canadian legal requirements and be based on the effectiveness of the new measure at improving  compliance. CFIA continually assesses scientific research on best practices for animal welfare. Based on this information, CFIA regularly updates humane slaughter  requirements and activities.

At this time, it is not clear that video monitoring would strengthen the existing compliance verification system. As mentioned in the petition, some countries have already  mandated the use of video surveillance in slaughter facilities. Canada, along with the rest of the international community, will be interested in any data that emerges from  these countries. CFIA welcomes the sharing of knowledge, research and data to help inform approaches and policies regarding the humane treatment of animals in  Canada.

Open for signature
April 26, 2022, at 11:36 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
August 24, 2022, at 11:36 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Nathaniel Erskine-Smith (Beaches—East York)
March 28, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01215)
Government response tabled
May 11, 2023
Photo - Nathaniel Erskine-Smith
Beaches—East York
Liberal Caucus