OFA supports the purpose of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 to prohibit trespassing on farms and other properties where farm animals are located, and limiting interactions with farm animals to ensure the safety of Ontario’s food supply. OFA believes that the Act has achieved the desired balance of protecting every citizen’s right to protest, along with protecting private property, ensuring a safe workplace for families and employees, and protecting the integrity of our food supply system from field to fork to the benefit of all Ontarians, Canadians and consumers worldwide. OFA takes a position of zero tolerance for animal neglect or abuse, and expects that individuals with knowledge of animal neglect or abuse will have an obligation to report suspected violations to the appropriate authorities, namely local police departments or to a Provincial Animal Welfare Inspector.
OFA provided comments and suggestions regarding the proposed regulation under the Act to ensure key terms are defined appropriately. OFA also proposed that the Act and Regulation encompass four types of “animal protection zones”: farms, pastures, livestock/poultry transport vehicles and other farm animal facilities (including agricultural fairs and exhibitions, auction sales, commercial vehicle inspection stations (i.e. weigh scales), community pastures, livestock transport rest stops, sales barns, and stockyards when farm animals are present. OFA recommended that enclosures or areas requiring signage be limited to places where it may not otherwise be clear to expect that animals are present, or to situations where animals are temporarily handled or housed in a location not normally used for livestock. OFA also reiterated the reality that any animal protection zone on a farm or animal processing facility is on private property and there is no right to be there unless invited or permitted. While OFA supports the concept of a perimeter around all forms of animal protection zones, OFA believes that the perimeter around an animal protection zone must differ among various types of facilities. OFA suggested appropriate animal protection zones for horse drawn carriages as well as for animals on a livestock transport vehicle, regardless of whether the vehicle is stopped or in motion. OFA supported the proposed aggravating factors allowing for increased penalties for persons who are found guilty of committing offences under the Act. OFA encouraged OMAFRA to consider regulations that are practical, implementable and enforceable. Furthermore, OFA supports stronger education and enforcement of new and existing legislation, to ensure the safety of Ontario’s food value chain, from farm to table.