May 30th Paws, MNRF & Rehabbers meeting
We were told in advance that the May 30th virtual meeting with Paws, MNRF and Rehabbers would be a summary of the Provincial Animal Welfare Services Act. Which it was. The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (Paws) Act is different from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (Wildlife Rehabbers have operated under for the last 23 years). Regulations for Paws are based on the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) were the MNRF is based on the National Wildlife Rehabilitors Association (NWRA) Minimum Standards Guide.
The good news is that Paws said that Rehabbers can operate from dwellings, which several Rehabbers had been told they cannot (still need it in writing). Paws also acknowledged that Paws officers can not enter a dwelling without a warrant. Fines for non-compliance mentioned but not the size where not mentioned ($25,000 to $200,000). The question and answer at the end, was only able to handle questions from 6 Rehabbers. Open Sky Raptor was not able to speak. If a Rehabbers has a site inspection from MNRF it is not acceptable to Paws. Paws said they are not currently doing site inspection of Rehabbers but have the right to do in the future. Rehabbers will now have to deal with both Paws (GFAS) and MNRF (NAWR) regulations. Paws also does not handle cruelty to wildlife call through their 1800 call center and refer them to MNRF. The six Rehabbers who asked questions had a lot good questions and concerns. Jeff from Georgian Bay Turtle raised the question under the Paws Act you are not supposed to have an animal under distress, which is what most Rehabbers handled. He also raised concern about additional Paws regulations on top of MNRF regulations on Rehabbers. Derek from Mally’s echoed concerns about adding Paws regulations on Rehabbers. A lot of question asked of Paws were being “taken back to get answers.”
It was said that “nothing has changed” implying that the same conditions existed before when the Cruelty to Animal Act was in place. This comment is plain wrong. The Ontario Humane Society who enforced the act did not regulate or investigate any Wildlife Rehabbers. They felt that Rehabbers were licensed, regulated, had site inspections and the responsibility of the MNRF. No everything has changed.
In discussions with the Minister’s Office they said in order to get changes, we should be talking with the Solicitor General’s Office. The Minister’s Office (MNRF) does see the problems but can only try to persuade. The MNRF cannot change the policy of another Ministry. We have updated the White Paper Paws and directing efforts with the Solicitor General’s Office. To see the updated version of the White Paper click on #6) White Paper on the right hand side.
If nothing changes what happened to Open sky Raptor can and will happen to some other Wildlife Rehabbers. The question is who and when. The regulations and rules have completely changed.