Ontario Federation of Agriculture Commentary
By Don McCabe, OFA President
Affordable and accessible energy is trending in the halls of Queen’s Park this week. As the province celebrates Ontario Agriculture Week, a new partnership has formed to tell the government, again, why rural Ontario needs access to natural gas energy. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) has teamed up with the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus and Western Ontario Wardens’ Caucus in this new partnership.
On October 4 at Queen’s Park, OFA and Eastern and Western Wardens’ Caucus groups strengthened our collective call for a provincial government commitment to bring natural gas to rural Ontario. OFA has been advocating for affordable, accessible energy and natural gas infrastructure for years. Together, our three groups represent rural Ontario ratepayers, businesses and farms.
While the provincial government previously announced a grant and loan program, the partners are calling for a much more assertive commitment to affordable rural energy. OFA and our wardens are asking the government to develop a public invested program to install new natural gas pipeline across rural Ontario. It’s estimated it could take 20 years to meet rural Ontario’s natural gas demands. The program will require public investment to develop and install the pipeline infrastructure, and to develop a viable rural rate for gas set by the Ontario Energy Board.
OFA reminded government this week that an investment in rural natural gas would save rural Ontarians more than $1 billion annually in energy savings. Those savings would be new disposable income to improve competitiveness, stimulate our economy and create jobs.
Accessible energy for farms, rural residents and businesses will be a game changer. It’s similar to bringing electricity out to farms and rural areas a century ago. Electricity changed lives and businesses then, we need the same action on natural gas for the next positive change for our Ontario economy.
Competitive energy is a priority for OFA. Our new partnership strengthens our resolve to push for natural gas accessibility to rural Ontario.