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Canadian College Students Making a Difference for Animals

The Humane Society of the United States

Students in Canada are riding the wave of change and optimism that is spreading across the continent by choosing to improve the lives of millions of animals through requesting that their campus food services end their use of eggs from hens confined in tiny cages on factory farms.

So far, students at McGill, Concordia, the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser, Langara College, British Columbia Institute of Technology and more than a dozen other universities, colleges and technical institutes across Canada have worked with their food service providers to reduce or eliminate their use of eggs from caged hens. With the increasing prevalence of cage-free options, it's never been easier.

"Preventing this type of cruelty on campuses is easier than you might think," said Bruce Passmore, director of outreach for Humane Society International/Canada. "In many cases, all it takes is asking your campus food services manager to switch to cage-free eggs."

Canada's 26 million egg-laying hens spend their entire lives — typically 18 months — crowded into small wire cages with four to six other birds. Each hen lives in a space smaller than a single sheet of letter-sized paper. The birds are barely able to move, and are unable to spread their wings, walk, dust-bathe, nest or perch.

To date, more than 350 campuses in North America have either reduced or eliminated their use of eggs from caged hens. In late 2008, the cities of Pickering and Port Colborne, Ontario, joined more than two dozen cities across Canada which have signed cage-free resolutions requesting all city-run facilities switch to cage-free and recommending all businesses, retailers and consumer do the same. On Nov. 4 in the United States, California passed the Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act, making it a criminal offense as of 2015 to confine egg-laying hens in battery cages, breeding pigs in gestation stalls and calves in veal crates.

Need help initiating a cage-free egg switch on your campus? Please contact Passmore for assistance.

Facts

  • Canadian factory farms confine approximately 26 million hens in barren battery cages that are so small, the birds can't even spread their wings. Each bird has less space than a single sheet of paper on which to live for more than a year before she's slaughtered.
  • While cage-free does not mean cruelty-free, cage-free hens generally have 250-300 percent more space per bird and are able to engage in more of their natural behaviors than are caged hens. Cage-free hens may not be able to go outside and may have parts of their beaks cut off, but they are able to walk, spread their wings, and lay their eggs in nests—all behaviors permanently denied to hens confined in battery cages.
  • Across North America, restaurants, producers, and retailers—including Safeway, Burger King, Wolfgang Puck, Carl's Jr. and Hardees—are moving away from using cage eggs.
  • In a landslide vote this Election Day, Californians approved Prop 2—a new law making it a criminal offense (with a phase-out period) to confine hens in battery cages, pigs in gestation crates and calves in veal crates.

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Humane Society International/Canada is a leading force for animal protection, representing tens of thousands of members and constituents across the country. HSI Canada has active programs in companion animals, wildlife and habitat protection, marine mammal preservation and farm animal welfare. HSI/Canada is proud to be a part of Humane Society International — one of the largest animal protection organizations in the world, with more than ten million members and constituents globally.