This week’s guest commentary comes from Mark Wales, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
As political watchers predicted, Ontario is in the midst of a provincial election campaign. And the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is ready to go to candidates with key messages for our sector before we all go to the polls on June 12.
To focus our messages and draw the attention of political candidates to the key issues that matter to OFA members and impact the overall health of the Ontario economy, we’ve themed our election campaign “I Believe in Growing Ontario.” It’s a simple way to relate our agriculture issues back to the overall economy because when agriculture is strong, every single Ontarian benefits from the food, fibre and jobs the agri-sector provides.
We have four key issues to focus on with party candidates over the next several weeks. We’re launching a special website – GrowingOntario.ofa.on.ca – as election central with information for candidates and OFA members about the issues that matter to Ontario agriculture. And why these issues should matter to every politician.
Number one is energy. We want access to competitively priced energy – that includes expanding infrastructure to deliver natural gas into more rural areas and ensuring affordable and competitive rates for electricity.
Number two is property taxation. We need government to improve property taxation for farmers, and address municipal funding, so farmland taxes reflect the services provided.
The third issue is food literacy. The OFA wants food literacy reintroduced into our schools so Ontario’s young adults are taught how to make better, healthier food choices.
And our forth election issue is agri-skills training. Ontario’s agri-food sector will remain strong, innovative and competitive as long as we continue to provide ongoing education and skills training.
We have produced short videos to explain these four issues in more detail. Visit our YouTube channel at YouTube/OntarioFarms to learn more.
The OFA talks a lot about how agriculture is the biggest economic driver in the province. And it’s our job, together with local and regional federations, to tell that message to political candidates of every party stripe in every riding.
As part of our election campaign activities, we’re looking for a public display of support through our special “I Believe in Growing Ontario” campaign. It’s one way we are engaging with political candidates and asking them to demonstrate their commitment to the Ontario’s agri-food sector. It’s a simple way to have candidates “sign on” to acknowledge their support of our industry. And we’ll be calling on OFA members to help sign up local candidates.
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