Fines for violating Canada’s Health of Animals Act have more than doubled, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency reports.

In a statement, CFIA said the Government of Canada is cracking down on those who mistreat and improperly transport livestock with the first increase in fines in over 10 years.

Stressed animals are generally considered to be more susceptible to disease and infections, making humane treatment an important food safety consideration.

Violators now will face fines of up to $10,000, up from the previous maximum of $4,000 for convictions under the Health of Animals Act.

 “The agriculture industry knows that a healthy farm and processing business begins with healthy animals and while the majority handles and transports animals safely, a few need to do better,” said federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz. 

He said Canada’s Conservative Government is providing CFIA “with the tools it needs to impose tougher fines and improve animal welfare.”

In addition to imposing finds up to the new $10,000 maximum, CFIA will retain the ability to increase fines by up to 50 percent of the maximum fine for repeat offenders. 

The CFIA will also have the ability to look back into the past five years, instead of three years, of the offender’s history.

For example, if an offender commits his second very serious violation within five years, the CFIA will now have the ability to impose a fine of up to $15,000, instead of the previous maximum of $6,000.

The system of fines was developed as an efficient, effective enforcement tool. Fines may be issued for violations of the Health of Animals Act, which includes requirements for animal welfare during transport. 

These increases will also be applied to the Plant Protection Act to deal with violations such as the importation of prohibited plants.

In addition to the higher fines, the CFIA will continue to work with animal welfare experts and industry leaders to update the Health of Animals Regulations governing livestock transportation to reflect the latest science and industry practices.