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Federal laws

Region: Ontario Answer # 4001

The Criminal Code is the main federal law in Canada that deals with animals, specifically, cruelty to animal offences. However, other existing federal legislation includes the following:

Health of Animals Act and Health of Animals Regulations

The Health of Animals Act and the Health of Animals Regulations exist to protect animals and animal health by helping control the spread of animal related diseases between animals and transmission by animals to humans.

The Act and Regulations provides for

  • the control of diseases and toxic substances that may affect terrestrial and aquatic animals or that may be transmitted by animals to persons;
  • the establishment of surveillance and control zones;
  • the destruction and experimentation of diseased animals;
  • the compensation of animal owners; and
  • regulates the importation and exportation of diseased animals

Offences and punishments

Offences and punishments are found under sections 65-73 the Health of Animals Act. They include general offences, ticket offences, possession and disposal offences, failure to comply with notices offences, and offences committed by an employee or agent.

For more info, view the Health of Animals Act.

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

The Species at Risk Act (SARA) was enacted to

  • prevent wildlife species in Canada from disappearing,
  • provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated (no longer exist in the wild in Canada), endangered, or threatened as a result of human activity; and to
  • manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened

This is done through:

  • the issuing of permits OR
  • the conclusion of agreements for certain scientific or educational activities, and through
  • the implementation of special emergency measures.

Offences and punishments

Offences and punishments are found under sections 97-107 of the Act. They include consequences for contravening a particular provision in a regulation or emergency order, failing to comply with a permit issued under the Act, and corporation liability.

A list of Wildlife Species at Risk can be found in Schedule 1(Subsections 2(1), 42(2) and 68(2)) of the Act. View the Species at Risk Act for more info.

Fisheries Act 

The purpose of the Fisheries Act is to provide a framework for the proper management and control of the fisheries, and the conservation and protection of fish and fish habitat, including by preventing pollution.

This can be accomplished by many measures, including:

  • establishing advisory panels
  • entering into agreements with a province or Indigenous governing body to administer programs/projects
  • implementing measures to maintain fish stocks
  • issue leases or licenses for fishing
  • prohibiting the taking of a cetacean into captivity
  • make fishing management orders (i.e., prohibit fishing a certain species of fish)

Offences and punishments

Offences and punishments are found under sections 78-79.61 of the Act. They include consequences for contravening the Act, corporation liability, and offences by license holders. Ticketable offences can be found under section 79.7.

View the Fisheries Act for more info.

More info

To learn more about other federal, provincial and municipal animal laws, view other Answers in Animals and the Law, or visit our Links.


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