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May 30, 2013

Overwhelming Majority of Canadians Support a Complete Phase Out of Inhumane Confinement of Breeding Pigs

National poll shows support for ban in the forthcoming draft Code of Practice

Humane Society International/Canada

  • As the poll clearly demonstrates, Canadians are taking a stand against the use of cruel gestation crates por pigs. The HSUS

MONTREAL -- Following a new Environics poll, which found that 84 percent of Canadians support a nation-wide ban on the use of gestation crates for breeding pigs, Humane Society International/Canada is renewing calls for the federal and provincial governments, pork producers, and other industry stakeholders to support a nation-wide ban on the use of these intensive farm animal confinement systems.

Gestation crates are metal cages used to tightly confine breeding pigs to the point where the animals cannot even turn around for nearly their entire lives.

“The overwhelming majority of Canadians support an industry-wide policy of housing systems that allow mother pigs the ability to express basic natural behaviours like moving around,” said Sayara Thurston, campaigner for HSI/Canada. “We hope the industry will respect the wishes of Canadian consumers, as well as a growing list of retailers here and around the world, who find gestation crates unacceptable.”

The poll results come on the eve of the release of an important draft Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs, which has been developed over the last several months by a National Farm Animal Care Council committee.

In April, the Retail Council of Canada announced that eight of Canada’s largest retailers—Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Safeway Canada, Loblaw, Metro, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys, and Co-op Atlantic— had committed to sourcing fresh pork products from alternatives to gestation crates over the next nine years. Two of the three largest pork producers in Canada—Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods—have already announced that they will shift away from gestation crates within the next four-to-nine years. Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer, has already announced a similar policy, which will be implemented within the next four years.

Telephone surveys were conducted between May 9-12 and 14-18, 2013 with a randomly selected sample of 2,022 Canadians. The poll has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points, at the 95 percent confidence level.


  • More than one million breeding sows are kept on Canadian farms, the majority of them currently confined in cages known as gestation crates.
  • Renowned animal welfare scientist and advisor to the pork industry, Temple Grandin, Ph.D., is clear on this issue: “Confining an animal for most of its life in a box in which it is not able to turn around does not provide a decent life.” Grandin further states, “We’ve got to treat animals right, and the gestation stalls have got to go.”
  • Leading North American pork producers Smithfield, Hormel, Olymel and Maple Leaf Foods have pledged to end the use of gestation crates at their company-owned facilities. Meanwhile, many family farmers have been raising pigs without the use of gestation crates for generations.

Click here to view Environics poll results.


Media Contact: Dean Pogas, 514.395.2914/514.261.6007, dpogas@humanesociety.org  

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI/Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International—one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than eleven million members and constituents globally—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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