About the OSPCA Act Application

Application to question the constitutionality of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Note: The OSPCA Act Application was completed in November 2019 with the decision from the Court of Appeal for Ontario.

This website is dedicated to the Application to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. This application questions the constitutionality of the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act [the OSPCA Act]. This application has been brought in the public interest to settle a number of questions and concerns respecting the constitutionality of the subject legislation. In keeping with the spirit of the application, this website will share the status of the proceedings and any publicly available documents filed with the Court.

This application questions the constitutionality of the OSPCA Act on a number of grounds. The full breadth of the application can be found in the Notice of Application. In summary, this application questions the following:

  1. Whether section 11 of the OSPCA Act breaches section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [the Charter] by granting police powers to a private organization without due restraints, accountability and transparency;
  2. Whether various sections of the OSPCA Act breach section 7 of the Charter by incorporating a definition of “distress” which is unconstitutionally vague and /or overbroad;  (Withdrawn)
  3. Whether various sections of the OSPCA Act breach section 8 of the Charter by authorizing unreasonable searches of peoples’ homes, farms and seizures of their animals without judicial authorization or oversight; and
  4. Whether offences set out in the OSPCA Act are criminal in nature, falling outside the province’s jurisdiction, and therefore breach sections 91 and 92 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Please note that question 2. above has been voluntarily withdrawn in order to narrow the scope of the application, and that it will proceed with questions 1, 3 & 4.

The purpose of this application is to seek a declaration from the Court respecting the constitutionality of the OSPCA Act. The objective of this application is not to undermine the protection of animals. On the contrary, if this application is successful, it is expected that the law will be changed to ensure that animals are better protected in a manner expected by Ontario residents.

Lead counsel for the application is Kurtis R. Andrews, an Ottawa based lawyer, who practices constitutional law, animal welfare law and other areas of law across Ontario.