CFIA Proposes Changes to the Health of Animals Regulations

12968092_584360768406132_2118738889343784506_oThe following are PROPOSED changes to the HAR thereby recognizing that the transport of animals in Canada is not aligned with those of other countries (World Organisation for Animal Health – OIE) nor do they align with the National Farm Animal Care Council Codes of Practice (NFACC) or international trading partners such as the US and the EU.  Furthermore, transport guidelines,  such as they are,  do not reflect current science regarding the handling of animals by land, sea, and air.

It is proposed that the HAR would be amended to:

  • “Provide clarification by adding definitions (for example definitions for compromised and unfit animals) and establishing clear requirements for regulated parties to better understand what is expected of them;
  • Improve animal welfare and reduce risk of suffering during transportation by establishing clear and science-informed requirements that better reflect animals’ needs and current industry practices;
  • Better align with the standards of Canada’s international trading partners and the OIE animal welfare standards for animals transported by land, air, and sea; and
  • Remove obsolete or unnecessary requirements to reduce the burden on the industry.”

The rationale for these proposed changes are to recognize that increased distances to slaughter are

Photo: courtesy R. Boisvert

Photo: courtesy R. Boisvert

involved, that there is “economic loss” from animals that are compromised or downed during these journeys, and the poor welfare resulting from the length travel leads to anxiety and increased physiological and psychological stress.  The increased stressors in turn can lead to greater susceptibility to disease among animals and the shedding of pathogens due to increased intestinal motility, risking both human and animal health.  In addition,  the number of livestock farms decreased by 45.8% between 1976 and 2001, making transport time for some species even longer.  The financial and trading implications appear to be of greatest concern, since a recent European survey found that 93% of Europeans found animal welfare standards to be important even outside of the EU.  Clearly, the proposed changes appear to be an attempt to stave off criticism of Canadian exports to EU member countries.

The proposed updates would include changes to how animals are segregated,  handled,  loading density, feed, water,  and rest, conveyancing requirements, training for handlers, definitions for “unfit” animals,  and contingency planning. For animals transported by air (horses) the container requirements set out in the IATA,  of which the CHDC has continually reminded the various levels of government,  would be incorporated into the HAR.

Table 1: Proposed maximum intervals for access to feed and water (transport time for horses decreases from 36 hours to 28 hours).



Species and class Proposed (hours) Current (hours)
Compromised animals 12 N/A
Ruminants that are too young to be fed exclusively on hay and grain 12 18
Broiler chickens, spent laying hens and rabbits 24 36
Beef and dairy cattle and other adult ruminants that can be fed exclusively on hay and grain 36 52
Other adult monogastrics 36 36
Equines and pigs 28 36
Day-old birds 72 72


Please read more about the proposed changes for multiple species including horses, here.

Remember that these are PROPOSED changes only.  The CHDC will publish additional information as it becomes known.


  1. Anne Streeter · ·

    Sounds more like concern for industry’s bottom line than for the animals.

  2. Burlington, Nova Scotia · ·

    Thank you , thank you for your hard work.

  3. Isis M. van Loon · ·

    Transport is not the only issue. The whole process cruel and inhumane, from auction to transport to the feedlot and slaughterhouse. The government is trying to make it look like this country is doing something but the focus is purely economic. Suffering is not a consideration. Nor is the fact these are companion animals, and they are also very often contaminated with substances that makes them toxic to humans. This looks like an insincere effort to whitewash things. CFIA already ignores their own standards, so I expect that we are only going to see more of the same despite these insufficient changes they are proposing.

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