The Ontario government is focusing more on balancing the safety and security of farmers, their families and the provincial food supply by protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.
Today, Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, received Royal Assent.
Once proclaimed into force, the Act will further protect against the health and safety risks of on-farm trespassing.
In recent years, farmers have faced increased levels of trespass and theft of livestock from their farms as well as mental heath stress due to these threats.
Bill 156 will increase protections for those farmers while simultaneously protecting the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property.
The Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020 helps deter trespassers by:
Escalating fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;
Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine;
Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer's livestock or from theft;
Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided the farmer did not directly cause the harm;
Removing consent to enter a farm property when it was given under duress or false pretenses.
Last year, the government passed the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act, 2019, giving Ontario the strongest penalties in Canada for people who are convicted of animal abuse. The province now has the first fully provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement system in Canada.
If anybody in Ontario believes that an animal is being mistreated, they should call 1-833-9ANIMAL or 1-833-926-4625 and have a trained inspector investigate the allegation.