- Stephen Lecce, MPP
Ontario Moving to Enhance Public Safety and Food Supply Chain
In order to keep people safe, the Ontario government is making it an offence to stop, obstruct, hinder or otherwise interfere with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals. Today, the province proclaimed Section 6(1) and three other related sections of Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020. These proclamations will ensure the safety and security of the public and the provincial food supply while protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property. "Stopping motor vehicles in traffic when they are transporting farm animals is dangerous for everyone, including those who stop the trucks, pedestrians, livestock transporters and other drivers," said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA). "As actions like this are on the rise and public safety is a top priority for the Ontario government, it is critical to bring these specific parts of the act into force immediately to ensure safety for everyone." These select sections of the act will come into effect on September 2, 2020. They will help keep truck drivers and members of the public safe from the risks posed from obstruction of vehicles or interference with livestock in transport. Nearly 130 municipalities have passed or supported council resolutions calling on the government to strengthen protections for farm families, employees and animals. This is part of the government's commitment to protecting the health and safety of our agri-food sector, farm animal welfare and food safety. OMAFRA has also launched consultations on the remaining parts of the act. The public can now provide input into a potential Minister's Regulation by visiting Ontario's Regulatory Registry until October 15, 2020. "We are looking for input from the public and the industry on proposed regulatory provisions so that the act achieves its goal of protecting our food supply, the welfare of farm animals, and the safety of agri-food workers who help feed us all," said Minister Hardeman. The rights of people to participate in legal protests that take place in public spaces will always be protected, provided such protests do not have the potential to cause harm. Careful work was put into crafting this act to balance the rights of farmers and their farm operations as well as the rights for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.
The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 recognizes the unique risks that can result from trespassing on farms and agri-food processing facilities and interfering with livestock transport including creating unsafe work conditions as well as causing stress to animals and introducing diseases or contaminating our food supply.
Sections 6(1), 7, 14(1) 3 and 15(1) of the act will be in effect on September 2, 2020. They will prohibit the stopping, hindering, obstructing or otherwise interfering with a motor vehicle transporting farm animals.
Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act was also amended to allow for tickets to be issued by law enforcement to those contravening section 6(1) of the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020.