TORONTO - The Ontario government is introducing legislation today that will overhaul the 90-year-old animal protection act and bring the province from "worst to first."

After being criticized for having the most lax animal protection laws in the country, the legislation will impose new rules on roadside zoos and make animal cruelty a provincial offence with tougher penalties.

Community Safety Minister Rick Bartolucci says it's good news for people who love animals.

Melissa Tkachyk, with the World Society for the Protection of Animals, says the bill has been a long time coming.

She says Ontario is the "absolute worst" in the country right now when it comes to protecting animals.

But NDP Leader Howard Hampton says the tough new penalties won't mean much if the province doesn't give the SPCA money to properly enforce them.