Ontario PC Party Bill Seeks OSPCA Oversight

An Ontario PC Party Bill before the Ontario legislature seeks to ensure that there is some government oversight of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (“OSPCA”), affiliated societies, and the Animal Care Review Board.

“Bill 87, An Act to amend the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, seeks to amend the OSPCA Act to grant authority to the Ontario government ombudsman to investigate complaints relating to the OSPCA, affiliated societies, and the Animal Care Review Board. This is a small step towards OSPCA and Animal Care Review Board government accountability,” said Nicholas dePencier Wright, Executive Director of Animal Justice Canada.

“While Bill 87 does take a step in the direction of OSPCA and Animal Care Review Board government accountability, limits to Ombudsman powers mean that there will be room for additional measures to be implemented moving forward,” said Ashley Hamp-Gonsalves of Animal Justice Canada.

Bill 87 was introduced by Ontario PC Party MPP Jack MacLaren of Carleton-Mississippi Mills and can be read here: http://www.ontla.on.ca/web/bills/bills_detail.do?locale=en&Intranet=&BillID=2814

The Bill passed first reading on June 5, 2013, and proposes only one amendment to the OSPCA Act: that a section be added stating that the OSPCA, affiliated societies and the Animal Care Review Board are deemed to be governmental organizations for the purposes of the Ombudsman Act. In effect, this section grants authority to the Ombudsman to investigate complaints relating to any of the above named bodies.

This is not the first time that PC Party MPP Jack MacLaren has put forward a Bill to amend the OSPCA Act. In February 2012, Bill 37 passed first reading, and would have had the effect of gutting animal cruelty laws.  Some critics argued that this was an attempt to hijack good faith efforts to reform the OSPCA for the betterment of animals by those who are most likely to run afoul of existing animal welfare laws. The Bill, however, was defeated in its second reading.

If enacted, Bill 87 has the potential to take a small step in the direction of correcting one of the core issues relating to the structure of the OSPCA that critics and independent reports have identified; that the OSPCA is a private corporation lacking clear provincial oversight. The Bill does not seek to address or incorporate any other reforms of the OSPCA Act that have been put forward.

Animal Justice Canada is an incorporated Registered Charity dedicated to advancing public knowledge of animal practices and preventing the abuse and killing of animals through the enforcement of existing laws.

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