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Animal Welfare

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency plays an important role in providing protection for animals used in food production. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's responsibility for farm animal welfare is science-based, seeks to reflect contemporary societal attitudes, and relates to two distinct areas of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency mandate: transportation and slaughter.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency requires producers to handle and transport all animals in a manner that prevents injury and unnecessary suffering. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency's transportation regulations form Part XII of the Health of Animals Regulations and define the conditions for the transportation of all animals by all modes of transport. For more information about the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's role in transporting animals, please see the Transportation of Animals Fact Sheet.

Humane Slaughter

Federally inspected establishments are subject to operational policies and regulations established under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's Meat Inspection Act, which prescribes the humane handling and slaughter of food animals. Provisions of the Meat Inspection Regulations cover the unloading, holding, and movement of animals in slaughter facilities, and the segregation and handling of sick or injured animals, in addition to requirements for the humane slaughter of animals.

Related Activities:

In keeping with its responsibility for animal welfare, Canadian Food Inspection Agency laboratories follow the Canadian Council on Animal Care guidelines for any research, teaching, or testing involving animal use. Such laboratories have established Animal Care Committees and are assessed periodically by the Canadian Council on Animal Care.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency has contributed to voluntary Recommended Codes of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals. The codes were drafted by producer organizations under the auspices of the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council. The codes provide humane care and handling standards for farm animals during all stages of life. The Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals during Transport is found here.

Canada is an active participant in the international effort to promote the welfare of food animals. For example, through the work of the Animal Welfare International Trade Working Group, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency participates in the development of Office Internationale des Épizooties strategic initiatives on animal welfare and international trade.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is actively involved in the Expert Committee on Farm Animal Welfare and Behaviour along with representatives from national producer and other animal industry associations, national animal welfare organizations, professional and government bodies, and individual members with expertise in farm animal welfare or ethology. The committee identifies and prioritizes animal welfare research needs and recommends appropriate courses of action.

Provincial Role

Provinces have the primary responsibility for the protection of animals, including their on-farm conditions. Provincial legislation is described in the Canadian Food Inspection Agency document entitled Canada's Farm Animal Welfare Infrastructure, which provides a comprehensive summary of Canada's legislative and voluntary animal welfare standards.


Provincial animal welfare legislation is enforced by either police officers or Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals officers. Such officers also investigate complaints under Sections 444–446 of the Criminal Code, which prohibit unnecessary pain, injury or neglect of animals. The key to obtaining compliance with this animal protection legislation is widely considered to be education.

In the course of their duties, Canadian Food Inspection Agency officials strive to educate producers and handlers and may report incidents of animal neglect or abuse. Education is one tool in a range of options available to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in cases of non-compliance with the regulations pertaining to the transportation of animals. Serious cases may result in prosecution. If hazards to animals are present in federally registered slaughter facilities, Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors can stop production until operational issues are resolved. For serious infractions, prosecution is initiated under the Meat Inspection Regulations. In veterinary biologics manufacturing premises as in slaughter establishments, compliance is in the interests of manufacturers who risk production losses should there be instances of non compliance.

Other Organizations

There are many other organizations in Canada that publish information on the ongoing efforts to promote animal well-being. Some of these sites are listed below for your reference.