Humane transport overview

The intent of the Canadian humane transport regulations is to prevent avoidable suffering of animals throughout the transport process. All those involved in the transport of animals must be knowledgeable, accountable, and take proactive steps to ensure animal well-being:

Legal requirements (humane transport laws)

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), with the help of other federal, provincial and territorial authorities, enforces the requirements for the transport of animals into, within, and leaving Canada.

Provincial governments have the regulatory authority over the on-farm care and treatment of animals in Canada.

The federal government is responsible for regulating the humane transport of animals under Part XII – Transport of Animals of the Health of Animals Regulations which defines the conditions for humanely transporting all animals in Canada by all modes of transport.

The regulations establish the requirements for:

  • definitions (including assembly centre, commercial carrier, compromised, unfit)
  • knowledge and skills
  • training
  • contingency plans
  • assessment and monitoring of animals
  • unfit animals
  • compromised animals
  • livestock, camelids or cervids of eight days of age or less
  • lactating animals
  • young ruminants
  • animal handling
  • protecting animals from adverse weather
  • providing adequate ventilation
  • proper handling
  • space requirements
  • overcrowding
  • isolation
  • conveyances and containers
  • vessels
  • providing feed, water, and rest at specific intervals
  • transfer of care
  • records
  • reporting requirements for sea and air transport

CFIA monitors compliance with the regulations by:

  • conducting routine inspection at strategic locations, including but not limited to points of entry to Canada, and at licensed establishments, assembly centres and roadside blitzes; and
  • following up on reports of non-compliance

Humane transport regulations include all aspects of transportation

The Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII – Transport of Animals apply to all aspects of the animal transport continuum and related confinement including:

  • withdrawal of feed, safe water and providing rest in preparation for transport
  • selection of animals that are fit for the intended transport and confinement
  • handling the animal(s) for the purpose of loading
  • loading of animal(s) into conveyances, including into crates, or containers;
  • transport and related confinement of animal(s)
  • post transport access to feed, safe water and rest when it is required (or the animal is slaughtered)
  • unloading the animal(s)
  • animals (in containers) remain in transport until they are removed from the container or enter a stunning chamber for the purposes of slaughter

While the CFIA has the authority to conduct an animal transport inspection at any location where animals are or may be transported, the CFIA's approach to inspections is risk-based.

A regulated party must comply with all legal requirements. Sometimes more than one act and its regulations may apply to a situation. If the animal is unloaded at a federal slaughter plant, the CFIA's oversight includes its humane handling and slaughter under the Safe Food for Canadians Act and the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations.