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2021 Legislation Update

December 6, 2021

Although the federal Bill S-218 was intended to prohibit keeping great apes and elephants in captivity it has implications for keeping other groups of animals including birds. The bill includes the “Noah Clause” that will enable other groups of animals to be banned without passing new legislation.  Senator Murray Sinclair indicated that this clause would be used to determine other groups of animals that shouldn’t be kept in captivity. Examples include the big cats and some birds that exhibit fence walking. Animal rights groups wanted to use this Bill to introduce legal standing into the Criminal Code for some non-human animals. This would be a shift in the law about animal rights and although directed at a few species, it would be a step towards the goal of eliminating all animals in captivity. Bill S-218 did not go beyond second reading following the retirement of  Senator Murray Sinclair. An all-party committee on animal welfare has been created in the House of Commons that may develop other legislation limiting the keeping of wildlife species in captivity.


The Saskatchewan government has changed the regulations on possessing native and exotic wildlife. They have described this process as modernization. There are two lists of birds restricted for being dangerous or for other reasons. These lists restrict many species of birds commonly kept by COP&GBA members.


The City of Winnipeg is currently undergoing a review of their Responsible Pet Ownership By-law. Proposed changes would severely restrict the number of birds or other animals that may be kept. Particularly disturbing is the plan to create an “allowable list” of species that may be kept by residents. An allowable list would prevent the keeping of many species common in aviculture. With the Avicultural Advancement Council of Canada (AACC) we have attempted to address the impact of the proposed changes on aviculture.


In December, 2021 the City of Toronto is again proposing changes to their animal care bylaw. The most disturbing aspect is a proposal to replace the prohibited list with a “positive list”. Positive list is another name for an allowable list. This would make it illegal for private individuals to keep most avian species in captivity. Aviculturists need to encourage municipalities to retain a prohibited list, rather than developing a positive list.