by Keith Currie
President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
Last week the Ontario government reassigned some key ministerial positions. The shuffle saw some champions of Ontario agriculture and rural communities reassigned, while newer faces are assuming leadership positions. The cabinet change also saw the creation of five new associate ministers and a new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, expanding the cabinet from 21 to 28 ministers and associate ministers.
It’s been one year since the PCs won a majority government and this change in leadership presents an opportunity for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) to work with new ministers and help them understand the role of the agri-food industry and Ontario’s rural communities. It’s our job to educate and advocate for agriculture and rural residents, while offering solutions that enable OFA to work with ministers, MPPs and policy makers to drive Ontario’s economy and make it the best place to live and work.
We’re pleased to see Minister Hardeman will continue in his role as agriculture minister. He’s a great advocate for agriculture and rural Ontario and understands the importance of our sector to the entire province.
OFA has already begun working with many of the new ministers as they get acquainted with their portfolios. We have communicated with Doug Downey, the new Attorney General, to congratulate him on his new appointment with our commitment to ensure Ontario’s agri-food sector continues to help sustainably drive our economy. We also didn’t waste any time in diving into one of the largest issues facing our members today – animal activism and the seriousness of these ongoing occurrences that are threatening the safety of farmers, their families and employees.
The appointment of Michael Tibollo as a new Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions is good news for Ontarians and our farmers. Mental health awareness in agriculture continues to gain support and understanding, and OFA will be working with this new ministerial position to make sure rural metal wellbeing is on the agenda, especially after such a tough planting season this year.
OFA looks forward to meeting with Ontario’s new Minister of Infrastructure, Laurie Scott and Stephen Lecce, the new Minister of Education. We’ll bring both ministers up to speed on our Producing Prosperity in Ontario plan, and the vital roles infrastructure and education play in rural Ontario.
We extend our thanks to Vic Fedeli for his work over the past year as Minister of Finance. His comprehension of our agri-food sector’s economic contribution and support of OFA’s Producing Prosperity in Ontario plan was an asset in his role at Queen’s Park. OFA looks forward to continuing to work together with Minister Fedeli in his new role as Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Chair of Cabinet.
With the recent reset on the government, OFA has our work cut out for us to make sure each cabinet member understands our industry, its challenges and potential. There will be plenty of opportunities to meet with ministers and their staff this summer with ongoing meetings, local constituency events and OFA’s upcoming Field Day.