PAWS Animal Welfare Act set to come into force on January 1

The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 has received Royal Assent and will come into force on January 1, 2020.

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The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 has received Royal Assent and will come into force in Ontario on January 1, 2020. The Act and the new provincial enforcement model consist of a Chief Animal Welfare Inspector, locally deployed provincial inspectors and specialized inspectors for agriculture, zoos, aquariums and equine.

To facilitate implementation of the new model by January 1, 2020, transitional regulations have been made to ensure animals are protected while long-term regulations are developed through consultation. The transitional regulations are as follows:

Standards of Care and Administrative Requirements: Contains basic standards of care applicable to all animals that fall under the Act and standards of care specific to dogs that live primarily outdoors, wildlife kept in captivity, captive primates, and marine mammals kept in captivity.

Disclosure of Personal Information: The regulation sets out the conditions that outline when the Chief Animal Welfare Inspector (or designate) may disclose personal information about an individual.

Exemptions: The PAWS Act prohibits causing or permitting distress to an animal. The regulation exempts “hunting or permitting hunting of wildlife not found in the wild in accordance with the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997” from that prohibition. Note that hunting wildlife in the wild is exempt under the PAWs Act.

Code of Conduct: The PAWS Act sets out that any persons can make a complaint about an inspector’s conduct. The code of conduct regulation provides the basis of which public complaints can be made about an inspector’s conduct.

Ministerial Prescriptions: Prescribes various miscellaneous matters related to periods of time to support implementation of key provisions in the PAWS Act (e.g. number of days to appeal an inspector’s order). Consultations on the long-term regulations will follow including through a multi-disciplinary table that will be established.

The legislation and the transitional regulations are available on e-laws at https://www.ontario.ca/laws. The Ministry of the Solicitor General has also issued a news release and backgrounder on the new animal welfare system which can be accessed here.

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