PERTH-WELLINGTON – MPP Randy Pettapiece, says the Ontario government is taking action to better protect farmers, their animals, and livestock transporters.
“Our government is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare and food safety,” said Pettapiece. “This includes the safety of our farm families. They should feel safe in their homes and in their barns.”
Bill 156, Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2019, was tabled in the legislature on Dec. 2. If passed, Bill 156 would act as a deterrent to trespassers by:
– increasing fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;
– allowing the court to consider aggravating factors when determining the appropriate fine;
– allowing the court to issue a restitution order requiring the trespasser to pay restitution for damages caused during the trespass;
– increasing protection for farmers, owners, occupiers or drivers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided there was no intent to do harm to or reckless disregard for the trespasser.
The proposed bill provides exemptions to allow access for municipal by-law officers, police and persons appointed under provincial animal protection and other legislation to access the property. This will be updated to reference the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act (PAWS) if both bills are passed by the legislature.
Under the proposed bill, consent would be invalid if it was obtained using duress or under false pretenses.
The proposed bill would also address the safety risks of people interfering with livestock in transport by:
– prohibiting stopping, hindering, obstructing or interfering with a motor vehicle that is transporting farm animals; and
– prohibiting interacting with farm animals being transported by a motor vehicle without explicit prior consent.
In a Dec. 3 statement, the animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said the bill will hinder investigators who aim to expose cruelty to animals on farms and in slaughterhouses.
“In the 21st century, ‘ag-gag’ bills, such as Ontario Bill 156 and Alberta Bill 27, have become the latest desperate attempt by agriculture-industry bullies to protect themselves from public scrutiny,” PETA states.