A new study (PDF) released by the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) underscores the often-considerable differences that exist between the animal protection laws of the provinces and territories. ALDF’s third annual report, the only one of its kind in Canada, ranked each jurisdiction on the relative strength and comprehensiveness of their current animal protection laws. The ranking was based on a detailed comparative analysis of the animal protection laws of each jurisdiction, researching twelve distinct categories of provisions throughout hundreds of pages of statutes. Each province and territory received a numerical ranking based upon their combined score and was also grouped into a top, middle or bottom tier.
For the second year in a row, Ontario held the top spot in the rankings due to its wide array of animal protection laws. New Brunswick showed the most significant improvement overall, moving from the bottom tier last year to fourth best in the country this year. New Brunswick’s improved ranking was due to its enactment of some of Canada’s stiffest penalties for offences. Animal abusers in New Brunswick now face fines of up to $100,000 and imprisonment for up to eighteen months. Nova Scotia overtook Manitoba as the second best province due to a host of new laws including better standards of care for animals, stronger penalties and requiring veterinarians to report suspected offences. The Northwest Territories and Nunavut tied again for last place – a position they have jointly held since 2008.
“This report identifies what each province and territory is doing individually with respect to their animal protection laws,” says Stephan Otto, ALDF’s director of legislative affairs and author of the report, “and we continue to see a wide range of disparity across the country. While many are making substantial steps forward, others unfortunately are not. Yet irrespective of where each jurisdiction currently ranks in the report, every province and territory has ample room for improvement. It is our hope that these ongoing reviews continue to shed light on this important issue and garner support for both the strengthening and enforcement of animal protection laws throughout the country.”