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August 6, 2013

Tens of Thousands of Canadians Call for Better Conditions for Pigs

Citizens, retailers, pork producers, political parties and celebrities weighed in during draft code’s public comment period

Humane Society International/Canada

  • The draft Code of Practice represents progress, but the pork industry should take this chance to go further and make Canada a global leader in animal welfare. James Goldsworthy/istock

MONTREAL — A total of 21,251 Canadians have signed a statement calling on the National Farm Animal Care Council to introduce better conditions for pigs in its draft Code of Practice and Handling of Pigs. Humane Society International/Canada submitted the signatures along with its official comments urging the council to phase out gestation crates as the public consultation period on the draft Code of Practice for the Care concluded.

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 new Code of Practice will take effect in 2014, at which time the construction of new gestation crate operations throughout Canada would be prohibited. By 2024, so would the nearly full-time use of gestation crates. However, the draft code would still allow pregnant pigs to be confined in these crates for a shorter period of five week during each their pregnancies.

Sayara Thurston, campaigner with the Humane Society International/Canada said: “Over the past two months, tens of thousands of Canadians have asked the National Farm Animal Care Council to modernize our food system by getting rid of tiny gestation crates completely. The draft Code of Practice represents progress, but the pork industry should take this chance to go further and make Canada a global leader in animal welfare.”

NFACC released the draft pig Code of Practice at the beginning of June, kicking off a two month public consultation period marked by attention from high-profile stakeholders. In an exclusive Globe and Mail op-ed, Canadian actor Ryan Gosling called for a complete phase out of gestation crates, saying that “no compassionate Canadian” would ever confine an animal so intensively for weeks at a time. More than 100 Canadian restaurants signed on to a statement requesting that the allowance for keeping pigs in gestation crates for more than a month per pregnancy be removed. Over the course of the public consultation, 21,251 Canadians signed petitions congratulating NFACC for the progress they had made, but encouraging further action, saying: “a partial ban is not enough—please ensure that the final Code of Practice includes a complete elimination of gestation crates.”


  • More than one million breeding sows are kept on Canadian farms, the majority of them confined in gestation crates.
  • In April, the Retail Council of Canada and eight of Canada’s largest retailers—Walmart Canada, Costco Canada, Safeway Canada, Loblaw, Metro, Federated Co-operatives, Sobeys and Co-op Atlantic—committed to sourcing fresh pork products from alternatives to gestation crates over the next nine years, and 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.
  • 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.”
  • A national poll conducted in May in Canada showed that 84 percent of Canadians support a complete phase out of the use of these confinement systems.


Media Contact: Sayara Thurston, HSI/Canada: 514.395.2914/514.691.6086; sthurston@hsi.org

Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, with active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation, farm animal welfare and animals in research. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International which, together with its partners, constitutes one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide—on the Web at hsicanada.ca.

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