Ontario Adopts New Law to Protect Public Safety and Food SupplyPublished on December 04, 2020
The Act protects farmers, agri-food sector and livestock transport drivers from impacts of trespassing
MISSISSAUGA – The Ontario government has proclaimed the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020, putting the safety of our food supply first. The new law recognizes the unique risks that can result when individuals trespass onto farms and agri-food processing facilities or when they interfere with the transportation of livestock.
“I would like to thank Minister Ernie Hardeman and Parliamentary Assistant Toby Barrett for their leadership on this important bill, at this very difficult time for all Ontarians,” said Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore. “It's more important than ever to support Ontario agriculture, and to ensure that an abundance of fresh and healthy local food remains available in our grocery stores throughout the second wave of COVID-19.”
“We are delivering on a significant pillar of our government’s commitment to protect the health and safety of our food supply, the agri-food sector and our farm animals,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “I heard from too many farmers who no longer felt safe on their own property. Through this Act we are adding tough new protections for them and their families as well as our food supply chain.”
The Act increases protections for Ontario’s food supply, farmers, agri-food businesses and farm animals from trespassing activities while maintaining the right for people to participate in lawful protests on public property, provided such protests do not have the potential to cause harm and are conducted in a safe manner.
“We received wide and strong support from the sector and from municipalities for this new Act, including important feedback on the Minister’s Regulation needed to bring the Act into force,” said Minister Hardeman.
Ontario consulted widely on a Minister’s regulation from August 31 to October 15, 2020, receiving over 850 responses from the public, including Indigenous communities. This input was used in the development of the Minister’s Regulation. The Act includes protections for Aboriginal and treaty rights. Ontario will take steps to educate the public and agri-food sector on the new legislation to encourage a smooth implementation, including raising awareness of Aboriginal and treaty rights.
The Act will help protect our food supply and deter trespassing by:
- Escalating fines of up to $15,000 for a first offence and $25,000 for subsequent offences, compared to a maximum of $10,000 under the Trespass to Property Act;
- Prescribing aggravating factors that would allow the court to consider factors that might justify an increased fine;
- Allowing the court to order restitution for damage in prescribed circumstances which could include damage to a farmer's livestock or from theft;
- Increasing protection for farmers against civil liability from people who were hurt while trespassing or contravening the act, provided the farmer did not directly cause the harm; and,
- Removing consent to enter a farm property when it was given under duress or false pretenses.
The protections in the Act will help to improve working conditions for farmers, farm families and agri-food sector employees and allow agri-businesses to focus on important aspects of their operations including the production of safe, high-quality food for Ontario families.
- Bill 156 — Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, 2020
- Ontario Introduces Legislation to Protect Ontario’s Farmers, Farm Animals and Food Supply (December 2, 2019)
Office of Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP