Water regulations drown out simple rule-making

By Mark Wales
Director, Ontario Federation of Agriculture

Farmers in Ontario are governed by nearly every ministry. We answer to provincial and federal regulations, most provincial ministries and our local municipalities. We take regulations seriously because producing food takes serious attention to detail – from the ingredients we feed our animals to how we manage pests in our crops.

Our environment and our water are two of the most regulated areas. Water systems run through many Ontario farms, making water quality and water management an on-farm priority. There are three federal and 18 provincial acts that currently govern water across Ontario. Farmers must answer to a lot of legislation and the regulations that flow from these laws, from source water protection and drinking water to drainage and fisheries.

A key priority for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has long been to recognize and reduce the burden of regulations. As we prepare to work with the new provincial government, we’re reviewing the existing water legislation that impacts Ontario farmers. Regulatory simplification will involve the identification of overlapping or conflicting legislation. From this, we can work with the new provincial government to simplify, modify or even eliminate regulations that may serve no purpose other than to confuse.

OFA is no stranger to water quality management. Our recent provincial election campaign – Producing Prosperity in Ontario, included key elements that addressed environmental sustainability and water quality.

Much of Ontario’s water legislation falls under two main ministries – Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and Environment and Climate Change. OFA will be working closely with these two ministries – and the newly named provincial ministers and their staff – to build effective working relationships as we advocate for a policy review and recommended legislative revisions.

Watch our website (ofa.on.ca) for information and updates on our water policy review.

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