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OHRIA Reacts To Ontario Budget

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Published: March 27, 2012 11:57 pm ET

Last Comment: March 30, 2012 11:04 am ET | 12 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Late Tuesday the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association issued the following update in the wake of Ontario's 2012 budget, in which Finance Minister Dwight Duncan outlined plans to modernize the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation by ending the province's slots-at-racetracks program in March 2013.

As the 2012 budget concerned the horse racing industry, the government noted in Chapter 1: Transforming Public Services that "Since 1998, $3.7 billion has been provided to the horse racing industry in Ontario, including $345 million in 2011–12. As part of OLG’s modernization process, the government reviewed this support for the horseracing industry, as outlined in the previous government’s 1998 letter of intent. In doing so, the government determined that the industry needs to move towards greater self-sufficiency without government support. This will allow the industry to respond competitively to market demands for its racing product."

The difference in tone from the province's 2011 budget is startling. In comparison, the Liberal government spoke well of horse racing stating that "20 per cent of gross revenue from slot machines at racetracks is used to promote the economic growth of the horse-racing industry. Since 1998, this initiative has provided over $3.4 billion to the horse-racing industry in Ontario, a key component of the Province’s agricultural sector." (emphasis added)

According to 610 CKTB, Duncan said the horse racing industry could possibly benefit from the new Jobs and Prosperity Council, established to provide advice to the government on consolidating and refocusing existing business support programs. Duncan told CKTB that " the province is interested in working with the horse industry in a constructive way to help them transition away from the current system."

The budget now rests with the New Democratic Party. PC Leader Tim Hudak has repeatedly stated that he and his party cannot support the budget so the vote will come down to the NDP, with Leader Andrea Horwath saying she was keeping her options open and would look to the people and public reaction before responding. NDP Finance Critic Michael Prue said that it would likely take the party 10 days to make a decision.

OHRIA is still hopeful that the government will sit down with the industry to see the current system honoured until 2015, giving time to design a long-term plan that works with the government and ensured survival for the province's once-vibrant and now shattered horse industry. Sue Leslie's update to the industry is as follows.


OHRIA has been busy all afternoon adjusting the strategy going forward to ensure our industry remains vibrant. We will be rolling out a plan over the next day or two that it is critical all members of the industry participate in.

If you love horse racing, and rely on horse racing for your livelihood, we need your help over the next two critical weeks.

OHRIA has planned a number of rallies across Ontario that we need your participation at. We've executed a successful write in campaign through value4money.ca that we will begin to phase out and replace with another outreach approach.

Our billboards and transit shelter ads, combined with our radio spots and earned media efforts are raising awareness about the incredible impact each of us has on Ontario's economy each day we go to work.

To take our message to the next level, to aid our government relations and public relations strategy, this next phase will rely on every single person this industry employs and impacts taking action.

I want you to know we are working day in and day out to do all we can to see the OLG Slots at Racetracks Program honoured through 2015, so our industry can have time to work with the government on a long term plan to ensure we have the stability we need to thrive.

I will have more to share tomorrow and Thursday, but wanted to send you this note tonight, so you had some idea of where we stand today.

Thank you for all you're doing to protect horse racing and breeding in Ontario.


(Photo credit: Carlos Osorio/TorStar Media)

March 30, 2012 - 11:04 amI was talking to someone

I was talking to someone totally un-involved with horse racing, and when I mentioned the slots program coming to and end she replied " Well it's about time..... That's been costing us millions" so I wasn't long telling her the TRUTH! So it goes to show how strong that false message from the government is! I have visited the NDP website and voiced my concern and I hope A LOT more people do the same!!!!

March 30, 2012 - 9:27 pmWe also need to get the

Lynne Magee SAID...

We also need to get the correct information out to the public. I've been talking to far too many people that don't know what this is all about and/or don't understand any of it. We in the industry have been well-informed by OHRIA, OHHA, etc. but the general public is still in the dark for the most part. We need the same exposure to them that the government has. National tv, newspapers and radio as well as local ones need to be utilized to the fullest. If we can get the people of Ontario to start phoning and writing to their elected members, that will have a huge impact. I've contacted OHRIA about this. I was told that they have been contacted by our local radio station (CKNX 920am) so I hope to hear Sue Leslie on the talk/phone-in show soon. We need to dispell the lies that the government has spread about our industry and the arrangement that put many billions of dollars into their coffers over the past 13 years. We need to fight fire with fire!

March 28, 2012 - 1:02 pmI too wrote to Ms. Horwath

I too wrote to Ms. Horwath and Mr. Hudak last night asking them to vote against this budget. We need thousands of responses to go out to these leaders that this budget will spell disaster for the Horse Racing Industry, Rural Ontario and the province. There is absolutely no sense in trying to continue to sway the inept Mr. Duncan or Mr. McGuinty. They just continue to spread misleading information despite all the evidence to the contrary. Another election is the only hope we have!!

March 28, 2012 - 12:40 pmFinance Minister Dwight

Adam Mauntah SAID...

Finance Minister Dwight Duncan went on CFRA (an Ottawa radio station) this morning, and repeated his line that the Government of Ontario "gave" $345 million to racing that year, adding "We didn't even give GM that much". He conveniently omitted that the province received $1.1 billion from racing. He also mentioned that the New Brunswick government eliminated its funding for racing, without pointing out that the arrangement in New Brunswick is much different than that in Ontario. Mr. Duncan also stated that Ontario's 17 racetracks are "a quarter of all the racetracks in North America", which is news to me, unless a lot of U.S. thoroughbred tracks suddenly shut down. This war of misinformation must stop. Get out to the rally at the office of your MPP this Friday and ensure that your MPP is properly informed.

March 28, 2012 - 12:11 pmCam you are bang on and the

Cam you are bang on and the clock is ticking.

We have the PC votes. Its the NDP from here on in that we need to be contacting and even holding rallies in front of their constituencies, letting them know that we as a group, wish to continue to be employed in this industry.

We must to do everything in our power to convince the NDP to vote down this budget. The vote will be within 2 weeks and no date has yet been set for it but it will be announced soon. So as an industry we have very little time to try and convince the NDP that the Liberals are wrong in trying to decimate our industry. The facts back us up that this program works, the numbers do not lie.

As Andrea Horvath has said and I surely hope she means it, she will let us Ontarians decide what is best. I would hope that each and every person in this industry will take the time to make the call or send in the form from the link I have listed below.

The number to leave comments to the NDP regarding the budget is 1 855 668 2348

The website link where you can do it by filling out a form is here http://www.ondpcaucus.com/yoursay/

Gary Blackburn

March 28, 2012 - 11:09 amThe next target should

Lynne Magee SAID...

The next target should definitely be Ms. Horwath and the NDP members. I sent my letter to her last night encouraging her to vote against this budget. She has promised to "listen to the people" on this one so get your message to her asap!

March 28, 2012 - 11:01 amThe NDP is seeking the

Sean Winning SAID...

The NDP is seeking the public's feedback on the budget through this link and toll-free phone number a 1-855-ONT-BDGT (1-855-668-2348):

The website simply asks: what do u like/ dislike about the budget and would you be willing to go to election over it.

I would advise all horse people to show their support for the Slots @ racetracks program to the NDP.

March 28, 2012 - 10:47 amIf the official opposition

Bob Boyd SAID...

If the official opposition is up in arms as much as they portray all they would have to do when the budget is presented is to have a non-confidence vote.
This would bring down the Liberal government.
Would the opposition do this, probably not.
Personally, I find politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth.

March 28, 2012 - 10:36 amTargeting the NDP should now

Cam McKnight SAID...

Targeting the NDP should now be priority #1.

I realize the OHRIA rallies at Liberal at Liberal offices are already a go, and hopefully they have an impact, but we need to court the NDP asap.

Hudak has already announced the PC's will vote against the budget, that leave Howarth and the NDP as Kingmakers.

McGuinty is on record as saying he will meet with the NDP leader to see if they can arrive at some common ground to prevent an election.

If our industry were to target the NDP (and a number of their members have already indicated support), perhaps NDP leader Howarth would be willing to support the 60,000 jobs at risk when she meets with McGuinty.

March 28, 2012 - 9:43 amIt is becoming so tedious

It is becoming so tedious listening to the Govt's characterization of the slots at racetracks program. Do they not understand that they don't own the buildings that the slots are in ? They pay rent to the Landlord [track owner] and compensation to the existing tenant [horsemen] and take in over a BILLION as a result of this arrangement. Add to this the fact that they allow 60,000 people to continue working and paying taxes, and it sure seems like a win win to most folks.
However they continue to use terms like "subsidy" and "handout" and while political lobiest, lawyers and the like call this misinformation, double speak etc. where I come from it's just plain old BS!

ed mchale

March 28, 2012 - 9:09 amWell maybe we should be

Linda Henry SAID...

Well maybe we should be going to our NDP offices as well as our Liberals office to tell them how we feel.

March 28, 2012 - 6:41 amwhat would the odds be to

Sheila Lewis SAID...

what would the odds be to getting private slot machines? Will the government share this? Most likely not as the competition with their private casinos would be too great, and my take on this whole thing is they want 100 % revenue and not the existing 75%. Las Vegas has an owned slot program and I would say they do just fine. would we be able to petition for ownership of our own slots? Just a thought.


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