By Peggy Brekveld
Vice President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
As the new PC government sits at Queen’s Park for the first time, the Premier is expected to provide direction to each new cabinet member about the priorities for their ministry. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has crafted its own priority recommendations to key cabinet ministers as its first official communication with the new provincial policymakers.
The OFA is reminding key Ministers that the agri-food sector is an economic powerhouse in the province. We are also making a simple request – to work together to ensure there is a long-term investment strategy in place to support economic growth in our industry and our rural communities.
We will continue to advocate across all ministries for distributed economic development – a policy to support the communities beyond the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area (GTHA). With proper investment, we know that rural communities can relieve the strain on the GTHA housing marketing and transportation infrastructure, while encouraging long-term, stable economic growth.
Our Producing Prosperity in Ontario campaign called for greater investment in Ontario’s agri-food sector and rural communities. OFA garnered widespread support with its campaign messaging before the election – including expressed support from Premier Ford. We advocated that distributing infrastructure investments around the province can boost economic growth, create new jobs, build affordable housing options, ensure food security and support environmental stewardship.
These are the messages we will continue to use as we begin to build new relationships with all the ministries that impact our sector – including Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Environment, Conservation and Parks; Infrastructure; Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade; Municipal Affairs and Housing; Health and Long-Term Care; and Transportation. Premier Ford and many MPPs expressed support during the election for OFA’s Producing Prosperity in Ontario messaging.
We believe the time is right for the provincial government to adopt a new approach – working together with our industry to develop a long-term strategic investment approach for rural Ontario. We are proud that our agri-food sector generates nearly $40 billion every year to the provincial GDP and employs more than 800,000 Ontarians. We will be taking this success story to policymakers to push for investments that will ensure rural Ontario and the agri-food industry is poised to continue driving our economy forward.