Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters


Bill 24: Amendments to enhance animal welfare and transparency

March 6, 2012 Ministry of Agriculture

Amendments to enhance animal welfare and transparency

VICTORIA - British Columbians will be able to appeal animal welfare allegations to an independent tribunal instead of having to take the matter to court, as a result of legislative changes to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act (PCAA) introduced today.

The changes introduced in Bill 24, The Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Amendment Act, establish the British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board (BC FIRB) as the organization to hear appeals from citizens regarding animal welfare issues where the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (BC SPCA) has seized an animal.

The amendments began as a result of public interest and the Province's desire for increased transparency. Both the BC SPCA and the BC FIRB were consulted on the changes. The Province anticipates the board will be ready to hear appeals later in 2012.

In order to give the public greater insight into the enforcement activities of the BC SPCA, another amendment requires the society to provide the Minister of Agriculture with information, data and statistics related to the enforcement of the PCAA. The legislation also allows the minister to draft bylaws outlining enforcement procedures and to appoint others to enforce the act in such situations where an authorized agent of the SPCA is not present or able to enforce the act.


Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture - "The legislative changes will lead to a quicker and more cost-effective dispute-resolution process for animal owners and the BC SPCA."

"We heard concern from the public and stakeholders about the current process, and worked with the SPCA and the FIRB to improve the system. Our top priorities are to ensure the welfare of animals, and to provide British Columbians with an appeal process that is transparent and fair."

Dr. Christiane Armstrong, president, Canadian Veterinary Medical Association - "We support this practical, common-sense approach to ensuring fairness when these situations arise, all the while balancing the public's and the animals' interests."

BACKGROUNDER: Ministry of Agriculture

British Columbia Farm Industry Review Board (BC FIRB)

BC FIRB is an established and experienced tribunal, already empowered to hear appeals under the Natural Products Marketing Act, the Administrative Tribunals Act and the Farm Practices Protection Act.

The board reports to the Minister of Agriculture in matters of administration, but is independent of government in decision-making.

BC FIRB will hear only appeals that the BC SPCA and the animal owners have not been able to resolve through the BC SPCA's own 28-day internal review process. After an appeal has been heard, BC FIRB may:

* Require the animal to be returned to its owner,
* Allow the BC SPCA to determine the disposition of the animal, or
* Confirm or vary the amount of costs for which the animal owner is liable to the BC SPCA while the animal was in its care.