Mr. Speaker, I also would like to take this opportunity to speak to Bill C-571 and would like to begin with a statement from Equine Canada, the dedicated national voice working to serve, promote, and protect the interests of horses and Canada's equestrian community. Equine Canada has stated:
Equine Canada believes that Bill C-571, if enacted: Will not enhance or add value to existing legislation for food safety in Canada; Will not improve the humane welfare of horses in Canada; and Will cause serious implications for Canadian horse owners for moving horses inter-provincially within Canada.
These are real concerns. Also, despite the way the bill was written, it appears that it is not really about food safety and not about imports and exports at all. It really is about the humane treatment of animals. On both sides of the House, we agree that all animals should be treated humanely and I know that our government takes the issue of animal welfare very seriously. In Canada, we have strict laws and regulations in place right now to verify that effective welfare standards are in place in all establishments. Canadian Food Inspection Agency inspectors work hard to enforce these regulations and operational policies under the Meat Inspection Act, which sets the standards for the humane treatment and slaughter of animals in federally registered abattoirs. Horses or equines are included in these protections.
The CFIA inspectors are present on-site in federally registered slaughter facilities each day to verify that animal welfare requirements are met. I take it that most people would not know there are on-site inspectors who inspect the facilities daily. Under the authority of the Meat Inspection Act and the meat inspection regulations, CFIA inspectors are empowered to intervene when they observe non-compliance concerning human handling of horses at slaughterhouses. This is an important job because, as I said earlier, we all agree that animals should be treated humanely.
The CFIA is also providing additional training to veterinarians and inspectors who oversee human handling of animals every day on the front lines. In addition to being on the floor to verify that humane handling is taking place, CFIA authorities want to hear about problems, concerns, and incidents of alleged non-compliance with the Health of Animals Act and the Meat Inspection Act. If anyone is aware of any non-compliance, of course the CFIA want to hear about it because then it can be dealt with. That is not to say that from time to time there may be violations, but that said, there is an enforcement mechanism and there is a toolbox to deal with that issue. I want to say here that it is important for anyone with concerns to raise them as soon as possible so that if there is a problem, it can be investigated immediately. The CFIA also has the authority to respond to findings with a full suite of enforcement tools, including criminal prosecutions.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this bill.