by Keith Currie
President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is a strong advocate for eliminating unnecessary red tape and regulatory burden for Ontario’s agricultural community. As the provincial government looks to reduce red tape under its open-for-business bylaws, including the proposed Bill 66 Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act, 2018, OFA will always advocate to ensure the concerns of Ontario agriculture are heard and considered.
Bill 66 is a far-reaching piece of legislation that includes proposed changes to several existing laws across several provincial ministries that impact the agri-food sector. It proposes amendments to the Planning Act, Agricultural Employees Protection Act, Toxics Reduction Act, and the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act.
OFA is encouraged by the government’s decision to remove Schedule 10 – a proposed amendment to the provincial Planning Act that would have given municipalities the ability to pass bylaw changes that could use primary farmland for any type of development.
As every farmer knows, farmland is a finite resource. We can’t make more and must do everything we can to protect it for food production. There are tremendous opportunities for prosperity across Ontario that don’t need to be at the expense of the province’s farmland resource.
OFA has outlined our official position on all proposed changes to legislation under Bill 66 that would impact Ontario farmers, and have sent a formal submission to Todd Smith, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
We support changes to the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 that would extend the act to workers in the ornamental horticulture sector.
We support the proposed changes to the Toxics Reduction Act, 2009 that would make it easier to report violations on toxic substances. OFA also supports the intent to make it easier for people to report violations. We do encourage the government to ensure that compliance systems under this act be conducted with scientifically sound investigations to avoid false reporting.
OFA generally supports proposed amendments to the Farm Registration and Farm Organizations Funding Act, 1993. But we caution the government that eliminating Section 2 could increase red tape and burden on farm businesses – running counter to the intent of Bill 66. These changes could also result in multiple registrations filed for the same farm business – a wasteful and unnecessary consequence of the proposed amendments.
We will be following this extensive piece of legislation and continuing to advocate for decisions that benefit and don’t hinder the ability of Ontario farmers to operate sustainable and productive operations.
To read OFA’s full submission to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, please visit ofa.on.ca/resources and click on “Submissions and Correspondence”.