OHRIA Reacts To Ontario Budget
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)