Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals

by Humane Canada
Humane Treatment of Farmed Animals
Photo by JMcArthur
Photo by JMcArthur

In February, 2020, the new federal regulations overseeing the transportation of animals came into effect, bringing with them a number of important improvements for the welfare of animals being moved across the country – at least on paper.

Humane Canada is concerned that actual changes on the road, and on farms, auctions and slaughter facilities may not improve to the extent that the regulations set out.

That is why we are also actively working on a large and lengthy project that is underway through the National Farm Animal Care Council to update the 2001 Code of Practice for the transportation of farmed animals.

The updated Code of Practice, which will apply to all the major farmed animal species in Canada, will set industry standards and has the potential to provide more clear guidance on individual species and groups of animals than the regulations. We want to do whatever we can to support strong application of animal welfare requirements and create tools to help the transport industry do their utmost to protect the animals they are transporting.

Transportation is likely the most stressful time in a farmed animal’s life. We need to do everything it takes to reduce the welfare impacts. We are also working more generally on a number of different fronts to improve the effectiveness of NFACC processes to advance the welfare of animals on farm.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Farmers in Canada shift away from transparency and into silencing whistleblowers, increasing vulnerability of farm animals across Canada.

This fall, Alberta and Ontario introduced American style “ag gag” legislation targeting those who would report poor farmed animal conditions, abuse and cruelty. Typically, this type of legislation contains provisions that prohibit intentionally deceiving employers and taking or possessing photographs, video or audio recordings without the farm owner’s consent, and levies significant fines to deter this kind of action.

There are multiple concerns about an industry retreat from transparency and accountability, but at the heart of it, ag gag laws such as these silence whistleblowers – by definition – those who expose information or activities that are illegal or unethical.

Why should we be concerned? Because the animal protection system in Canada is complaint- based. In other words, an investigation into allegations of animal abuse can’t begin until someone files a complaint, and it is well established that those who would report wrongdoing – especially employees – will not do so in a climate of fear and reprisals.

Alberta’s Bill 27, passed in just 10 days, amends laws pertaining to animals on the farm. Bill 156 in Ontario, currently before the legislature, also moves to limit those who interact with or approach animals, or document animal conditions on transport trucks and going into slaughter plants. Both bills contain clauses regarding actions taken under “false pretenses” and levy significant fines. The bills do not define false pretenses, leaving it to farmer discretion. In Ontario, farmers can detain, use force and arrest those they suspect. Such broad offences and powers with such high fines are designed to chill anyone from coming forward for fear they will be in trouble.

Animals on farms in Canada already lack external oversight. In fact, there are no regulations pertaining to on-farm animal welfare. All codes of practice are industry-driven and voluntary in many provinces including Ontario. With such little oversight or enforcement, sadly, undercover footage is required to better protect farmed animals, as evidenced by recent prominent cases in Canada. Undercover footage from a dairy farm in Chilliwack, BC, revealed workers viciously kicking, punching and beating animals with chains, metal pipes, canes and rakes, resulting in seven employees being charged with 20 counts of animal cruelty. Undercover footage that brought to light animal cruelty at the Hybrid Turkey Farm in Ontario resulted in 11 charges.

However, instead of increasing transparency and oversight in response to such horrific examples of cruelty happening on farms, producers are choosing to shut all the doors, withdraw into secrecy and leave animals unprotected.

In a time when the public is calling for greater protection and accountability, farmed animals are made even more vulnerable in a system with little to no oversight coupled with a complaints-based enforcement regime by significant efforts to silence any reporting.


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

December 3rd is Giving Tuesday and Global Giving is giving us a chance to increase our impact by providing up to $500,000.00 in matching dollars to participating organizations based on their fundraising total for the day.  How much we earn depends on how much our donors give to help us in our projects.

Humane Canada, as the founding animal welfare organization onthe National Farm Animal Care Council, is involved in several areas that promise improvements for the now more than 800 million animals that are raised for food in Canada.  The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals.  The Codes serve as the national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices but require constant monitoring and evaluation to ensure they are doing what is intended.  To do this we support the development of assessment programs to ensure the Codes are being followed on farms but it is always a challenge to find the resources to fund our organization’s participation with industry.

We are now involved in updating the Code for dairy cattle and the Code for goats, and we have begun the work on development a Code that will examine the transportation of animals, ensuring their care meets or exceeds the federal regulations. 

Your support will continue to ensure animal welfare organizations have a seat at the table and that we advocate for the best measures using science and an understanding of an animal’s needs.

Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

We have a new federal government in Canada that is at work to develop priorities for the next four years. During the election period, we shared Humane Canada's election platform with candidates to help inform them about the important animal welfare issues in our country. Now we need to let our Members of Parliament (MP) know that their constituents expect animal welfare to be a priority. 

Please take a moment to tell us your top three animal welfare priorities. We'll share your priorities with our newly elected MPs and the Federal Government.  

Humane Canada successfully works across party lines to advance animal welfare legislation. We will continue to build on the critical advances we made earlier this year. Please tell us what issues are most important to you, and we'll make sure to ask the new federal government for the most urgent changes first.

Make your voice heard!

Thank you so much for adding your voice to help animals. Once we collect the results we'll be in touch to share how you can help ensure your MP knows what issues Canadians have said are most important.


Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

Humane Canada created the following recommendations as a guide to action that can be taken to create a more humane Canada.  With a federal election underway in Canada we are working to ensure that the next government has these issues on their radar and that we will have a plan for action once the government is elected.

Each year, more than 700 million animals are raised on farms in Canada for food. There is increasing public awareness and scrutiny regarding the welfare of farm animals in all phases of their life: while on the farm, during transportation and at slaughter. The public has an expectation that farm animals should, and will, be treated humanely. This expectation is translating into public pressure on the farming and retail sector to eliminate certain farming practices from their supply chain. The farming and retail sector are making commitments to the public, especially with regards to the phasing out and elimination of confinement housing and painful practices. Many Canadian farming practices, however, still lag behind higher animal welfare standards in other jurisdictions.


  • A commitment to secure, continuous and stable funding of the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)to underwrite the Codes of Practice process, including funding for both the ongoing review of existing codes to ensure they stay relevant and the development of new Codes of Practice. Funding should include support for compliance in the form of assurance programs to monitor adherence to the requirements and recommendations identified within each individual Code and funding for the animal welfare experts that negotiate these codes with industry.
  • The current Codes of Practices are advancing animal welfare by setting target phase-out dates for various painful practices and for confinement housing systems. Additional support needs to be in place to ensure that producers can meet or exceed these targeted phase-out dates. This would include funding for infrastructure, on-farm training of new practices, and support for research into new technology and innovation.
  • Canada’s current animal transportation regulations are inadequate when compared to international standards. Recent updates to the regulations felt short of recognized animal welfare science and our global counterparts. Changes to the transportation regulations need to be brought forward immediately.
  • Providing funding and resources to ensure there is a robust inspection and enforcement by Canadian Food Inspection Agency of requirements for humane transport and slaughter.
  • Canada is a respected world leader in the area of animal welfare research. This important research is what forms the basis for the development of Canada’s Codes of Practice and identifies best management practices. There needs to be a commitment that Canada’s animal welfare research programs will be given long-term, ongoing support.
  • The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is responsible for labeling schemes and should allow for labeling of the agricultural practices used to produce animal products which allows consumers to make informed choices about humane alternatives.
Share on Twitter Share on Facebook

About Project Reports

Project reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.

If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you can recieve an email when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports without donating.

Sign up for updates

Organization Information

Humane Canada

Location: Ottawa, ON - Canada
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @humanecanada
Project Leader:
Melissa Devlin
Ottawa , ON Canada
$18,746 raised of $54,207 goal
466 donations
$35,461 to go
Donate Now
Donating through GlobalGiving is safe, secure, and easy with many payment options to choose from. View other ways to donate

Humane Canada has earned this recognition on GlobalGiving:

Help raise money!

Support this important cause by creating a personalized fundraising page.

Start a Fundraiser

Learn more about GlobalGiving

Teenage Science Students
Vetting +
Due Diligence


Woman Holding a Gift Card
Gift Cards

Young Girl with a Bicycle

Get incredible stories, promotions, and matching offers in your inbox

WARNING: Javascript is currently disabled or is not available in your browser. GlobalGiving makes extensive use of Javascript and will not function properly with Javascript disabled. Please enable Javascript and refresh this page.