(Montreal) Companion animal welfare, “particularly that of cats and dogs,” will be the subject of a national consultation tour.

Seven sessions will be chaired between next May and September in as many regions by the MNA for Iberville and government assistant for animal welfare, Audrey Bogemans, who will meet with some thirty organizations.

“We want to hear the ideas of the people who are on the ground. The goal is to get to strengthen existing communication channels and create new opportunities, in addition to actively collaborating with groups and organizations whose mission is related to animal welfare, “he said. she said in a statement.

All in a context where the adoption of animals has grown exponentially during the pandemic, while according to the most recent data from the Association of Veterinary Physicians of Quebec, the province had 2.1 million cats and 1, 1 million dogs. Thus, one in two households would have at least one pet in their possession.

The government hopes to be able to determine the actions to be taken to improve the well-being of Quebec pets, with the main objective of improving laws concerning animals and intervention practices in this area, underlines in a press release the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food of Quebec, André Lamontagne.

“Ultimately, we want to encourage greater community mobilization while targeting even better priority actions in order to continue implementing the law. Our goal is really to team up with animal welfare partners,” he said.

The Minister also announced an envelope of 8 million to hire about twenty workers assigned to animal welfare, including inspectors.

In the year 2022-2023, 289 people were authorized to enforce laws administered by the Deputy Minister of Animal Health and Food Inspection. “Of this number, for animal welfare, 30 inspection resources come from MAPAQ and 34 from agents,” said the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).

Over the same period, 4,226 complaints were filed with MAPAQ regarding animal welfare and safety. A total of 6,732 inspections were carried out by the ministry and its six agents.

Earlier, Tuesday morning, the Parti Québécois (PQ) had for its part proposed to create a government agency that would be responsible for animal welfare in Quebec.

Currently, this issue is covered by the MAPAQ. However, according to PQ MP Pascal Bérubé, there is a possible presence of conflicts of interest, since the department deals with both agri-food policies and the welfare of farmed animals.

For the MP, it is also problematic that the monitoring of the treatment of pets is carried out most of the time by non-profit organizations (NPOs).

Mr. Bérubé would thus like to establish an independent agency, which would report to the Ministry of Justice.

This new organization would have investigative powers and could follow up on cases of animal cruelty.

“It is inconceivable that we put on the backs of NPOs with limited means the responsibility of ensuring the protection of animals, especially in terms of investigation”, deplores the deputy in a press release.

“This agency will give importance and a concrete character to the principles of protection and good treatment of animals, already recognized by the Government of Quebec for nearly a decade via the Civil Code and the Act respecting the well-being and animal safety. »

Currently, MAPAQ conducts inspections following animal welfare complaints. Offenders can be fined up to $250,000 or jailed for up to 18 months for repeat offences.

In 2015, the Couillard government passed a law redefining animals as “sentient beings with biological imperatives.” Pet owners are therefore required to meet their basic needs.

This law provides for the prohibition of non-therapeutic surgeries, such as declawing, tail docking or ear pruning.