Shift spend­ing, spread de­vel­op­ment: OFA

The Glengarry News - - Sports in the Glens -

By KEITH CUR­RIE Pres­i­dent, On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture As the provin­cial gov­ern­ment de­vel­ops its 2018 bud­get, the On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture (OFA) of­fers rec­om­men­da­tions on spend­ing and in­vest­ments needed to strengthen our provin­cial econ­omy and ben­e­fit all On­tar­i­ans.

In OFA’s pre-bud­get sub­mis­sion, we’re ad­vis­ing the gov­ern­ment to shift spend­ing by dis­tribut­ing eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment across On­tario.

On­tario’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties of­fer tremen­dous po­ten­tial for the en­tire prov­ince and our econ­omy. OFA be­lieves pub­lic in­vest­ment will strengthen ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties with new eco­nomic op­por­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies. And dis­tribut­ing pop­u­la­tion growth can help solve cur­rent ur­ban con­cerns like the Greater Toronto Hamil­ton Area’s (GTHA) trans­porta­tion prob­lems and soar­ing home prices.

This year, OFA is rec­om­mend­ing the On­tario gov­ern­ment fo­cus on ru­ral On­tario in their 2018 bud­get. In­fra­struc­ture in- vest­ments like widespread broad­band, ac­cess to af­ford­able en­ergy with natural gas and in­creased so­cial in­fra­struc­ture in­clud­ing schools and med­i­cal care will at­tract new busi­ness and new res­i­dents. OFA has de­vel­oped a cam­paign to se­cure a pol­icy of dis­trib­uted eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment through pru­dent pub­lic in­vest­ment – Pro­duc­ing Pros­per­ity in On­tario. And that’s the ad­vice we’re pre­sent­ing to gov­ern­ment. Sound in­vest­ments in ru­ral On­tario will jump-start farm­ing and over­all ru­ral On­tario growth. This will, in turn, stim­u­late the en­tire On­tario econ­omy. Dr. David Fresh­wa­ter re­cently ad­dressed del­e­gates at OFA’s 2017 an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, not­ing that in­vest­ing in un­der­per­form­ing re­gions can pro­vide a higher rate of return to so­ci­ety than sim­ply aban­don­ing these places. Ru­ral On­tario is feel­ing aban­doned, but it is the place with the most po­ten­tial to de­liver eco­nomic and so­cial return to the prov­ince.

OFA is part­ner­ing with or­ga­ni­za­tions across On­tario agri­cul­ture, ask­ing for in­vest­ments in the up­com­ing provin­cial bud­get to ad­dress the fun­da­men­tal prob­lem rather than just ap­ply­ing band-aids. With the proper in­vest­ments, our ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties will re­lieve the strain on the GTHA hous­ing mar­ket and of­fer long-term eco­nomic growth. OFA strongly rec­om­mends the On­tario gov­ern­ment work with mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties across ru­ral On­tario to de­velop and adopt a cost-ef­fec­tive in­fra­struc­ture pro­gram in­clud­ing roads, bridges, drainage and broad­band, and pro­vide fund­ing to ru­ral mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to im­ple­ment growth and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.

It’s time On­tario adopted a new ap­proach – a con­certed ef­fort to boost our ru­ral econ­omy through a planned pro­gram of dis­trib­uted eco­nomic de­velop- ment to pro­duce pros­per­ity in On­tario.

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