2022 statistics on ‘severe’ suffering in canada

9th November 2023

The Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) publishes an annual report on the number of animals used in Canada for the purposes of research, teaching, and testing at CCAC member institutions. Canada employs a system of five ‘categories of invasiveness’ ranging from A to E, which roughly align with UK ‘severity classifications’. Category D describes  ‘experiments which cause moderate to severe distress or discomfort’, while Category E describes ‘procedures which cause severe pain near, at, or above the pain tolerance threshold of unanesthetized conscious animals’.

On October 19, 2023, the CCAC released the 2022 data report on animal use of animals used in Canada. These statistics include data on severity, which is important for transparency and ethical considerations.2022

In 2022, 105,253 animals were used in the most severe category of protocols, Category E. This represented 2.8% of all animals used in research and testing in those Canadian institutions certified by CCAC. 

What types of use were most likely to be severe?:

  • 50.1% were used for regulatory testing to protect humans, animals, or the environment
  • 30% were used for fundamental scientific research
  • 11.8% were used for medical and veterinary studies related to human and animal diseases
  • 7.8% were used for developing medical products
  • 0.3% were used for educational purposes in post-secondary institutions

What animals were most often used in Category E studies?:

  • 41,375 Rainbow trout
  • 17,995 Mice
  • 14,435 Salmon
  • 14,267 Sticklebacks
  • 5,690 Guinea pigs
  • 2,478 Rats
  • 3,660 Northern pikeminnows

This data report highlights the severe suffering experienced by fishes in fundamental research and regulatory testing. Notably, the data reveals that 37,027 rainbow trout were subjected to Category E procedures, specifically for regulatory testing purposes. This figure accounts for 35% of all Category E procedures reported by the CCAC. The report emphasises the urgent need for a critical evaluation of practices to minimise this suffering in regulatory testing. In line with this objective, we are organising a one-day workshop in Surrey dedicated to the application of humane endpoints in regulatory toxicology for fishes. Further information about this event can be found here.

The full CCAC data report and data files are available on the CCAC website.