The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is undertaking a review of animal transportation regulations for the first time in 30 years. Changes have been drafted, but Canada’s Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food has yet to bring them forward for public comment.

In the meantime, you can take action alongside over 5,000 other Canadians to make sure the draft laws have animal well-being in mind. Take the time to sign an official petition to the federal government, sponsored by Liberal party member Alexandra Mendès of Quebec.

Throughout Canada each year, more than 650 million farm animals are transported from farms to auction and slaughter. In recent years, the food processing industry has become more centralized, fueled by public demand for cheaper food, resulting in longer trips for many animals to slaughter.

The costs of making improvements to transport conditions for farm animals must be supported by consumers of the food. If we are to demand more ethically produced food, Canadians must be willing to shift their household expenditures towards their grocery bill to provide greater support for our farmers.

Longer trips are fundamentally undesirable to most industry members, due to the costs involved. Research consistently indicates that any type of transport is stressful to animals. Animals lose weight when transported and some become sick, rendering them unfit for human consumption. When combined with escalating fuel costs, these costs can dramatically cut into a farmer’s bottom line.

These circumstances present a challenge to all of the people responsible for ensuring that these animals do not suffer in transit: the farmers who raised them, the truckers who are carrying them and the processing plants who are purchasing them. However, certain steps can be taken to minimize the negative effects and many of these should be incorporated into law to ensure they are followed.

While on-farm animal welfare falls mainly under the jurisdiction of the provinces, the responsibility of ensuring the humane transportation of animals is borne by the CFIA. The Transportation of Animals Regulations referenced in the Health of Animals Act prohibit the transport of ill or injured animals to prevent undue suffering.