Horwath says it’s time to stop letting down agricultural producers, rural Ontario

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TORONTO – Speaking to the Ontario Federation of Agriculture’s convention on Tuesday, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath promised that an NDP government would do more to strengthen rural communities and ensure agri-businesses have access to the tools and services they need while they work hard to put food on our tables.

“Farmers have always been visionary and forward-thinking,” said Horwath. “In one of the most technologically demanding industries in the world, Ontario’s growers and producers are building the future – but life in rural Ontario has never been easy – and today under the Wynne Liberals, it’s actually getting harder.”

Despite the agri-food sector being one of the fastest growing industries in Ontario, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals are decreasing their investments in farming and breaking promises to farm families. The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs has projected a nearly $50 million cut to where spending was at in 2016-2017. Since the 2014 election, Kathleen Wynne has been promising and re-promising money for natural gas expansion – but the money isn’t flowing, and neither is the gas. The Liberals have broken promises on non-crop agriculture insurance, property taxes and the Risk Management Cap, which they have not increased despite lip service on the importance of the issue for farmers.

“Worse than the undelivered promises are the many ways the Wynne Liberals have actively made life harder for rural Ontarians and the agriculture sector,” said Horwath. “Skyrocketing hydro rates, hospital underfunding and 270 school closures, with 300 more on the chopping block right now – that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the many ways in which this government has failed farming families.”

Horwath has committed to making life better for farming families and rural Ontario. She has a plan to lower hydro bills by at least 30 per cent and bring Hydro One back into public hands – so that Ontario has control over our hydro bills again. The NDP has also made commitments to improve hospital care by considering and respecting the unique needs of rural hospitals, and has called for moratorium on any new school closures.

On Tuesday, Horwath again stressed the importance of working with municipalities to expand natural gas infrastructure, and said she’ll continue to push for amendments to climate change legislation. Horwath wants to enable cash rebates of cap-and-trade costs for vulnerable economic sectors, including the agri-food sector.

“New Democrats will protect farmland from developers and we will introduce an Ontario Food Strategy that ensures Ontarians can buy healthy, locally sourced food,” said Horwath. “We will make sure farm families have the community resources and programs they need to live a great life in beautiful rural Ontario. Working together, we can ensure that Ontario’s vibrant farming community has a prosperous, promising future.