A Historic Milestone: Moving Toward Ending Unnecessary Animal Suffering Across Canada 

| June 14, 2023

History has been made toward ending animal suffering! Bill S-5, an Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA), passed the Senate on June 13, 2023, to become law. 

The Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act is the first major update to CEPA since 1999, and it includes some new tools to better protect us, the environment, and our animals from harmful substances. 

When Bill S-5 was first introduced, it included an aspirational statement in the preface indicating a desire to move away from animal toxicity testing, but unfortunately there were no concrete measures to phase it out.  

The new law requires the government to support and start using cruelty-free alternatives to toxicity testing on animals, empowers the government to make regulations about how non-animal testing should be done, and mandates that the Ministers of the Environment and Health publish a plan within the next two years to promote animal-free toxicity testing methods. They will then be required to report annually on progress made under the plan. 

Before Bill S-5 was made law, toxicity tests were done to see whether a chemical causes harm to the environment or could cause adverse reactions like tumours, skin burns, blindness, birth defects, or death. The tests could involve inflicting burns or trauma on unanesthetized animals, applying deadly substances to their bodies, and forcing them to eat harmful chemicals. Doses are often given repeatedly for many months, or until an animal dies. 

According to Animal Justice, approximately 90,000 animals are used in toxicity tests in Canada every year. Animals commonly used include rabbits, guinea pigs, mice, and other small animals – sometimes pigs, sheep, beavers, chickens, turkeys, hummingbirds, many species of fish, and some amphibians were also tested on. 

With the implementation of this new law, we will witness a rapid transition towards non-animal testing methods that are both cruelty-free and offer numerous advantages. We can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that animals will no longer suffer and will be protected against toxicity testing under federal law.  

Together, let us celebrate this historic milestone and continue to work tirelessly towards a world where animals are no longer subjected to unnecessary suffering. Toronto Humane Society remains steadfast in our commitment to champion the welfare of animals. This momentous achievement would not have been possible without the unwavering support and advocacy efforts of passionate individuals like you – thank you!