Ontario Government to introduce legislation to reduce red tape for Agricultural Fairs

Above, Chesterville Fair Demolition Derby. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

S-D-SG — The Ontario government hopes to reduce red tape for over 500 Ontario agricultural and horticultural organizations in the province.

This Fall, the Ontario government will introduce legislation that, if passed, would save organizations and their volunteers time and money by removing burdensome and outdated rules that regulate agricultural and horticultural societies.

“We want to remove unnecessary and outdated burdens for our province’s agricultural and horticultural organizations,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Many local fairs rely on volunteers. By reducing red tape, we will help save these organizations time and money so they can focus on what they do best – promoting rural Ontario and agriculture.”

If passed, the proposed changes include giving organizations flexibility and financial savings by removing the requirement to both mail and publish notices of annual meetings. This could reduce compliance costs for all organizations by over $100,000 a year.

Our local agricultural fairs reflect the pride and dedication of the hardworking volunteers to their community. They work tirelessly to ensure the organization and success of the fair. If any organizations have earned the right not to be encumbered by red tape, it is our local fairs,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.

The riding hosts the following fairs: Williamstown Fair, Stormont County Fair, Chesterville Fair, Avonmore Fair and South Mountain Fair.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors of the Markham and East York Agricultural Society (Markham Fair), we welcome the change to the regulations surrounding our Annual General Meeting,” said Todd Silverman, Markham Fair General Manager. “OMAFRA has eased the administrative burden on the society and helped us reduce costs associated with mailings. We welcome the modernization of the Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act”.

Changes would also remove burdensome and outdated requirements that don’t apply to other not-for-profit organizations, such as requiring treasurers to give security for loss or for board members to be personally liable for loss. The proposed changes would not impact government grants and tax exemptions available to agricultural and horticultural organizations.

“The proposed changes announced today reduce unnecessary red tape and make it easier for agricultural and horticultural societies to spend their time and resources more effectively,” said Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Prabmeet Sarkaria. “We’re proud to support the celebration and promotion of agriculture and rural life in local communities across Ontario.”

Due to the current legislation, many agricultural organizations in towns without a local paper are forced to publish notices of annual meetings. The proposed changes include giving organizations more flexibility by removing the requirement to both mail and publish notices of annual meetings.

QUICK FACTS

  • There are over 500 agricultural and horticultural associations and societies preserving and celebrating rural way Ontario, such as by hosting agricultural fairs.
  • Ontario’s first agricultural fair dates back to 1792 in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
  • The Agricultural and Horticultural Organizations Act establishes province-wide direction for agricultural associations and agricultural and horticultural societies.
  • More information on the proposed changes for agricultural and horticultural organizations is available on the Ontario government website.
  • These changes would build on the momentum of the Ontario government’s priority to tackle red tape and unnecessary burdens, including the passage of the Making Ontario Open for Business Act in November 2018, and the Restoring Ontario’s Competitiveness Act in April 2019.
  • If passed, the proposed changes will save agricultural societies hundreds of dollars and volunteer hours by allowing notices of annual meetings to be emailed instead of mailed.
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