Building a Humane Canada: the Sector, the Successes and the Future

Barbara Cartwright
CEO, Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS)

Humane Societies and SPCAs are among the oldest institutions in Canada, founded just after Confederation to hold the government accountable for enforcing anti-cruelty laws, to protect the most vulnerable in our society and to create a humane country for the animals we live and work with. Today, there are 116 Humane Societies and SPCAs in Canada, with more than 168 shelters dedicated to the prevention of cruelty, law enforcement, animal rescue and rehabilitation, outreach, humane education, advocacy, sheltering and re-homing companion animals. As a sector in Canada, we raise just under $200 million annually, provide 2000 jobs across Canada and support more than 25,000 volunteers. We are responsible for the creation of Canada’s bedrock animal welfare legislation, we consult with federal, provincial and municipal governments, we shelter 300,000 animals a year, we undertake more than 45,000 investigations and directly educate half a million people - while outreaching to millions more. But what’s next? The future holds some significant challenges for the humane sector and animal welfare at large. Together we will explore the past, present and future of building a humane Canada.

Key Learnings:
1. The history, evolution and impact of the Canadian humane movement
2. The current scope and scale of humane societies and SPCAs in Canada
3. The next steps in building a humane Canada – what are the trends and challenges

An award winning leader in animal welfare, conservation and education, Barbara’s work has spanned five continents and 20 years. Her extensive experience in developing and facilitating relationships with stakeholders including governments, corporations and NGOs has led to innovative programs with dynamic results including working with First Nations to initiate community based companion animal welfare, partnering with the BC government to implement the first grizzly bear rehabilitation program, supporting east coast fishermen to protect the endangered right whale and mobilizing African communities across the continent to conserve chimpanzees. Barbara is sought after for her knowledge of policy and public affairs. She has secured amendments to federal legislation including updates to the Criminal Code, the Migratory Bird Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act. Barbara has advised some of the top organizations in the world on animal welfare policy direction including working with eBay INC to end the illegal ivory trade on its site worldwide.

Today, as the CEO of the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS), Barbara convenes and represents the largest animal welfare community in Canada working to end animal cruelty, improve animal protection and promote the humane treatment of all animals. She leads the CFHS in fulfilling its mission to create a humane Canada through the successful execution of strategic and business plans. Over the past five years Barbara has launched the National Animal Welfare Conference, the National Centre for the Prosecution of Animal Cruelty, and the first empirical sector wide research project. She is consulted by all political parties on issues of animal welfare including updating legislation and consulting on policy documents such agricultural and food policy.

Barbara has presented to audiences around the world including to the House of Commons and the Senate of Canada, the all-party International Conservation Caucus, the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) as well as at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Congress. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Education and Communication, is a published author, lecturer and received the Governor General’s Gold Medal, as well as the National Environmental Excellence Award. She is the former President of the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada, an Advisory Council Member for the Pan-African Sanctuary Alliance and currently sits on the PetSmart Charities of Canada Board of Directors. Barbara is a member of Women’s Executive Network, the Council of Women Executives and part of the Distinctive Women network.