On Thursday, March 28, the Ontario Legislature carried the motion of Essex's New Democratic Party MPP Taras Natyshak. The pro-horse-racing motion calls for, among other things, the suspension of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.'s gaming modernization plan, and for changes to the current slots-at-racetracks program to be put on hold.
Natyshak's motion was carried with a vote of 53-33, with the NDP and PC Parties fully supporting the motion, while the Liberals voted against.
“This motion goes a long way towards addressing the serious missteps being made in the ‘modernization’ of the OLG and the horseracing industry,” said Natyshak after the motion was carried. “The thousands of Ontarians who depend on the horseracing industry can sleep a little easier knowing their future is more secure, and Ontarians concerned about casinos being forced into their backyards can be assured that they will have an equal voice in the decision.”
Natyshak’s motion also calls for a legislature-appointed panel to establish fair spending limits for the campaign around the casino referendum.
“The future of gaming in Ontario can’t be decided by the Donald Trumps of the world in secret, backroom deals,” said Natyshak. “My motion gives Ontarians a real say in the future of gambling in their communities.”
Natyshak discussed his motion on Trot Radio earlier this week. To listen to Natyshak on Trot Radio, click here.
The full text of Natyshak's motion is as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the following principles should be immediately applied to the Province's gaming policy:
1) Implementation of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation's transformation of gaming strategy be suspended until after the 2014 Ontario municipal elections in order to allow municipalities wanting to be a host site for a casino to undertake a referendum on the issue on the 2014 ballot;
2) A panel, composed of representatives nominated by the three recognized parties, be tasked with hearing from stakeholders and drafting fair spending limits for parties taking part in the referendum on casinos;
3) Changes to the Slots at the Racetracks partnership be frozen, in order to enable the horseracing industry to continue to operate while the government engages the industry in a robust consultation with the goal of ensuring its survival, stability and growth; and
4) Current funds from unclaimed purses due to racetrack closures be made available to local or community race tracks. Filed March 18, 2013.
The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association thanked the NDP and PC parties for their support in the legislature and is calling on the government to accept the will of the majority of MPPs and immediately work with opposition parties, our industry and other stakeholders.
“Our industry is in crisis. We are days away from the end of the Slots at Racetracks Program and without a replacement long-term plan for revenue the industry will likely collapse. Our industry workers and investors are scared to death as they watch their livelihoods fall apart," said Sue Leslie, President of OHRIA. "The temporary 'reprieve' of transition funding provided by the government to racetracks does not provide the long-term stability needed for our industry to survive. Unless the government takes action to integrate our industry into the gaming modernization strategy, the industry will continue to fall apart.”
OHRIA has continued to pressure the Wynne government to follow through on their announcement that horse racing will be integrating into the OLG’s modernization strategy. “We need action now before the end of SARP in order to restore confidence and stop the downward spiral of the industry,” stressed Leslie.
OHRIA is calling on Premier Wynne to restore SARP through 2013, while horse racing is integrated into a new revenue sharing arrangement.
To hear MPP Monte McNaughton discuss the PC's support of the NDP motion, click here.
In addition to the PC support of the NDP motion, the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) has also announced that it will be at Queen's Park on Thursday in support of the motion.