by Peggy Brekveld
Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) begins 2018 with a clear set of priorities to drive our advocacy work throughout the year. The upcoming provincial election will drive much of our advocacy for the first half of this year, along with the other ongoing activities. Some of the issues we work on are ongoing, long-term projects, while others have shorter timelines. The common thread with all these issues is to advocate for the best interests of our 37,000 members.
Here’s a look at some of OFA’s priorities for the year ahead.
Our Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign was launched at our 2017 AGM, and will be OFA’s focus for the 2018 provincial election and beyond. We’re focusing on how proper investments in rural Ontario and farming can offer economic and social solutions that will benefit the entire province.
On the labour file, OFA will be working through the review of agriculture exemptions under the Employment Standards Act. The review hasn’t been scheduled yet, but it is essential to ensure labour rules continue to reasonably accommodate the business of farming.
As well, the minimum wage hike remains a concern with our farm business members. OFA will continue monitoring the implications to the agriculture industry and report concerns back to the government.
Federally, we’ll continue to closely monitor the impact to our members of the proposed federal tax changes to private corporations that were announced in 2017.
Closer to home, we’re expecting an evaluation of the wildlife compensation program to be announced this year. OFA will be watching for the details of this program and implications to members.
And considering the natural landscape that Ontario farmers live and work in, the environment continues to play a leading role in our advocacy work. The next draft of the soil health strategy is due to be released this year. OFA will be working through the details of the new draft strategy and providing feedback to the government. Water quality and management will continue to be top priorities for OFA in 2018 as we work with our partners in Grow Ontario Together on the draft Canada-Ontario Domestic Action Plan for phosphorus reduction.
2018 is shaping up to be another busy year for agricultural advocacy. OFA will continue advocating for the needs of our members on these wide ranging issues and priorities that impact Ontario’s agri-food sector.
Happy New Year everyone!