By Nathan Stevens
May 10, 2013
The first proposed budget under our new Premier holds many positive commitments for agriculture and rural Ontario. The CFFO is pleased that there are commitments to the key issues that the organization raised in its budget submission on the need for fiscal discipline, the need for a focus on innovation, and the need for regulatory modernization. However, there are some areas of concern as well.
The Liberal government is still committed to eliminating the deficit over the next number of years. It is encouraging that the effort to contain the costs of program spending and grow the economy extends beyond just this year. It is important to remember that today’s overspending is a debt that we are choosing to pass onto the next generation. As a province, we need to minimize that burden.
The CFFO welcomes the continued focus on improved productivity and innovation. The budget document indicates that there is a focus on a smarter regulatory framework that would work towards reducing barriers to innovation and productivity. The CFFO hopes that this will build on the “Open for Business” efforts that are already taking place. The elimination of unnecessary or redundant regulations that do not compromise safety is critical to improving the ability of our businesses to compete in a global economy.
The CFFO is concerned about the potential impact that reviewing the minimum wage may have on agriculture. The CFFO supports the concept of the proposed Advisory Panel as the method of gathering the concerns of stakeholders. However, the CFFO is concerned that while agriculture is a major employer, it isn’t mentioned as a stakeholder in these discussions. Agriculture needs a seat at the discussion table on this issue because recovering the cost of a wage increase from the marketplace is a very difficult task.
The Liberal government’s recently proposed budget has many positive features for agriculture and rural Ontario. It is taking steps towards a more fiscally responsible government with a focus on innovation and red tape reduction. Time will tell if the budget will be supported, but if it is, the CFFO hopes that its implementation will have positive impacts for today’s hard-working farmers.
Nathan Stevens is the General Manager and Director of Policy Development for the Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario. The CFFO Commentary represents the opinions of the writer and does not necessarily represent CFFO policy. The CFFO Commentary is heard weekly on CFCO Chatham, CKNX Wingham, and UCB Canada radio stations in Chatham, Belleville, Bancroft, Brockville and Kingston and in Brantford and Woodstock. It is also found on the CFFO website:www.christianfarmers.org. CFFO is supported by 4,200 family farmers across Ontario.