‘Lots of room for im­prove­ment’

The Glengarry News - - News - - Drew Spoel­stra, OFA Ex­ec­u­tive Mem­ber

The 2018 On­tario pro­vin­cial bud­get was met with crit­i­cism and spec­u­la­tion on how vot­ers will re­act to spend­ing that of­fers some­thing for nearly ev­ery On­tar­ian. It also yields sev­eral years of pro­vin­cial deficits re­quired to de­liver on th­ese spend­ing prom­ises.

The On­tario Fed­er­a­tion of Agri­cul­ture (OFA) has been ad­vo­cat­ing for re­spon­si­ble gov­ern­ment in­vest­ments in agri-food and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties. While it ap­pears some of those re­quests have been ad­dressed in this year’s bud­get, there’s still plenty of room for real com­mit­ments to our in­dus­try and res­i­dents out­side of the Greater Toronto Hamil­ton Area (GTHA). Numer­ous gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance and spend­ing pro­grams are in­cluded in the bud­get, and our work re­mains to en­sure their ex­ten­sion to On­tario’s ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

Here are the bud­get high­lights for agri­cul­ture and ru­ral On­tario. ments. The On­tario Com­mu­nity In­fra­struc­ture Fund will pro­vide an ad­di­tional $100 mil­lion to the South­west­ern On­tario and Eastern On­tario De­vel­op­ment Funds over the next 10 years to sup­port busi­ness needs, par­tic­u­larly in ru­ral and small com­mu­ni­ties.

Agri­cul­ture

There was no spe­cific spend­ing for agri­cul­tural pro­grams or fund­ing in­cluded in the bud­get. The bud­get for the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture, Food and Ru­ral Af­fairs ap­pears to be slightly in­creased and the specifics of that will come later with the spend­ing es­ti­mates.

OFA is pleased to see the 2018 bud­get re­flect our call for in­vest­ment in ru­ral ca­pac­ity and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment as out­lined in our Pro­duc­ing Pros­per­ity in On­tario cam­paign. There’s still plenty of work to be done to help gov­ern­ment un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cant im­pact and po­ten­tial

Fed­er­a­tion ap­plauds $500 mil­lion in­vest­ment to ex­pand broad­band in ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties

growth of our agri-food busi­nesses and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties, and to re­al­ize the re­sults of that im­proved un­der­stand­ing in fi­nan­cial spend­ing, sound pol­icy de­vel­op­ment and in­creased at­ten­tion.

The bud­get has a lot to of­fer On­tar­i­ans, but we’re not alone in our con­cern with the high and per­sis­tent deficit spend­ing the 2018 bud­get de­liv­ers. All of On­tario will be watch­ing closely as we ap­proach the pro­vin­cial elec­tion in June. OFA will con­tinue to po­si­tion our agri-food sec­tor and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties as the an­swer to growth, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, af­ford­able com­mu­ni­ties and a sus­tain­able en­vi­ron­ment and lo­cal food sys­tem for all On­tar­i­ans.

RICHARD MAHONEY PHOTO

AHEAD OF SCHED­ULE: Mi­gra­tory birds have been flock­ing back to the area over the last few weeks, when tem­per­a­tures had been very spring-like. But wa­ter fowl have found con­di­tions to be very foul over the last few days, as snow and rain have re­turned,...

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