Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario Commentary
By Paul Bootsma, CFFO Field Services Manager
Ontarians voted for change on June 7th, with a strong outcome. The province has given the reins to the PC party to steer the ship for the next four years. The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario (CFFO) offers congratulations to newly elected Premier Doug Ford and to the Progressive Conservative Party that will form Ontario’s government.
In a notice released earlier this week, the CFFO extended its thanks to outgoing elected representatives, particularly the Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. CFFO President Clarence Nywening commented that “Minister Leal has been a keen listener and a strong advocate for the agricultural sector.”
Following the 2014 provincial election, there was concern from rural Ontario that it would be left out because there was little representation in the government from rural ridings. With the June 7 results, Rural Ontario should have a strong voice at Queens Park, bringing some of the concerns to the forefront on the government’s agenda.
For the last number of years, the CFFO has encouraged the provincial government to keep its financial house in order, sharing common concerns about how much debt our province has taken on. Tackling the problem of provincial debt will be an important task for the new government to accomplish. Ontario needs its credit rating to be at the highest level possible. Ontario should be the “economic engine” of the Canadian economy.
The CFFO is encouraged by the PC Party’s promise of expanding economic supports for agriculture, including re-examining business risk management programs and expanding high-speed internet services in rural areas.
The cost of food production on the farm has increased, and many farmers, as well as other business owners, will be anticipating some relief from the complications of sudden wage hikes, spiking energy costs, and unnecessary red tape. Most farmers would prefer to focus on their day-to-day work, something they enjoy and are proud of.
At the same time, the CFFO will continue to encourage elected officials to recognize and support farmers’ stewardship efforts as an important contributor to the long-term economic and environmental health of the province.
The CFFO has consistently spoken up on environmental issues, and we encourage the government to continue the soil and water stewardship efforts that the province has accomplished over the years. Farmland preservation is a long-term challenge that the PC government will need to continue to uphold. The CFFO wants to see stronger protections for productive farmland facing significant growth pressure across the province. A consistent regulatory system would ease some of the frustrations that farmers have when we watch good food land taken out of production.
The CFFO looks forward to working with the new agriculture minister in developing policy that continues to encourage the production of healthy and environmentally safe food for Ontario consumers and the world.