GUELPH, ON [October 2, 2020] – The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is encouraged that the City of Burlington has endorsed a motion to proclaim an additional section of Bill 156 to ensure the safety and security of the public and workers in the region.
On September 28, 2020, the City of Burlington Council unanimously supported a motion urging the government to immediately proclaim Section 6(2) of Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. Bill 156 strengthens protections for farm families, agri-food employees, animals and the food system while maintaining the right to lawful protest. On August 30th, the Ontario government proclaimed key sections under the Act, making it an offence to stop, obstruct, hinder or otherwise interfere with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals. These sections were proclaimed in an attempt to address increasing protests by animal rights extremists.
Despite the new sections coming into force on September 2, 2020, protest groups outside Sofina Pork plant continue to reach inside livestock trailers, touching, filming, and providing liquid to pigs. These actions create unsafe conditions where individuals may be injured by the animals or the transport vehicle and cause additional stress and potential harm to the animals inside. The tragic death of a protestor earlier this year serves as a reminder of how dangerous this type of behaviour can be.
“OFA would like to express our sincere appreciation of the initiative that the City Burlington has taken as we work through the rollout of this Bill,” said Drew Spoelstra, OFA Executive Member. “We are optimistic knowing that municipalities see a need for the effective and swift implementation of this bill to protect workers, animal transportation and local citizens.”
Immediate proclamation of Section 6(2) would give enforcement officers the tools to protect both the safety of protestors and the animals, while protecting the right to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly in public spaces. Section 6(2) of the Act states that no person shall interfere or interact with a farm animal being transported by a motor vehicle without the prior consent of the driver of the motor vehicle.
The motion requested the City of Burlington pass a resolution urging the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs to proclaim Section 6(2) of the Act in order to provide a legal basis to prevent the unsafe practice of protestors having contact with livestock trails and animals. Representatives from Ontario Pork, Sofina Foods, and the Ontario Livestock Transporters Alliance spoke at the virtual Council meeting. The City of Burlington Council unanimously supported the motion, which will be forwarded to the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Associate of Municipalities of Ontario, and the Region of Halton. Mayor Meed Ward commented that “we are absolutely committed to free speech and equally committed to public safety. This will get us there and strike the right balance to allow people to express views while keeping everyone safe.”
OFA thanks the members of Burlington Council for taking this step and for increasing their support on this important issue. Having the collaboration of multiple stakeholders on this matter of safety and security is important to the agri-food sector and citizens alike.
To learn more about how Bill 156 protects food safety and supports the needs of the agri-food sector, visit AboutBill156.com.
For more information, contact:
Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Ontario Federation of Agriculture