From a release
QUEEN’S PARK – Today (Nov. 5, 2013) Ernie Hardeman, MPP Oxford and PC Critic for Agriculture and Food, said that work by the PC Caucus, local food groups and agriculture organizations has improved the government’s weak Local Food Act.
“When the government first introduced this bill just over a year ago I was very disappointed, as were many stakeholders.” said Hardeman. “We were hoping for a real food act – one that would have an impact on Ontario’s food system.”
To strengthen the bill, the PC party successfully put forward three major amendments to the Act. These amendments were developed after input from local food roundtables in Woodstock, Stratford, Cobourg, London, Windsor, Kingston and Ottawa. The amendments aimed to:
- Save Ontario Agriculture Week by moving Local Food Week to the week beginning the first week in June, which will kick-off the summer local food season and create another opportunity to highlight local food in schools;
- Create a 25% non-refundable tax credit for farmers who donate agricultural products to an Ontario food bank or community food program; and
- Change the definition of local food to include forest and freshwater foods, which will allow all regions of the province to increase local food production.
“Saving Ontario Agriculture Week and creating a tax credit for donations from farmers are great first steps,” said Hardeman. “But we also need to increase food literacy and education in this province. That starts with our youth.”
The Liberal members of the committee blocked a PC amendment to make food education mandatory in all grades to increase knowledge of nutrition, where food comes from, and cooking skills.
“Almost every single group that spoke to the committee wanted increased food literacy in our schools,” said Hardeman. “It’s tough to believe that the government really wants to promote local food when they won’t get behind such a common sense idea.”