Ontario’s animal welfare services act is getting a thumbs up from the Kingston Humane Society’s executive director.
“Their proposal is that they’ll have a provincial animal welfare enforcement group and a lot more inspectors to cover the entire province of Ontario,” Gord Hunter says.
The legislation, introduced at Queen’s Park at the end of October, is a result of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (OSPCA) ending its enforcement duties on June 28.
The enforcement role held by the OSPCA was ruled unconstitutional by a provincial court judge in January 2019.
Since the OSPCA bowed out, the humane society has been handling animal welfare enforcement.
Hunter says the inspector they hired until the end of the year has dealt with more than 100 calls so far.
Hunter supports the Peoples Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) legislation, saying it has a lot more teeth to it.
Inspectors will have greater enforcement powers, according to Hunter.
“A lot more ability to go out and make these seizures and put these fines in place.”
Fines will also increase.
Individuals convicted of a major offence under the new legislation could be fined up to $130,000 and up to two years in prison.
If convicted of a second offence, the maximum fine doubles.
Fines for corporations convicted of major offences also increases dramatically, says Hunter.
“For a major offence, a corporation first fine would be half a million dollars a second offence in that category would be a million dollars.”
Hunter says a lot of groundwork has taken place over the summer so when the legislation is enacted into law the new enforcement agency should be ready quickly.
“They have an interim chief inspector, they have an administrative body within the Solicitor General’s office that’s working to track the number of animal calls.”
Hunter expects the PAWS legislation, Bill 136, should get its third reading by the end of the year or early in 2020.