Will Party Leaders Support Food and Farming in Ontario?
Provincial cross-sectoral alliance asks political leaders about how they will commit to strengthening Ontario’s food and farming system
Toronto, ON - Last Friday, Sustain Ontario sent 11 questions to provincial party leaders, seeking their commitments to healthy food and farming policies as part of the 2014 Vote ON Food election campaign. Party responses will be published online on the Vote ON Food Report Card, alongside other web-based resources that will inform both MPP candidates and the public about the importance of Ontario’s food systems.
Food and farming policies and programs can grow Ontario’s economy, reduce healthcare costs, improve our environmental impact, reduce poverty, and improve educational outcomes. At the core of the Sustain Ontario campaign is the fundamental belief that food and farming related policies cross these traditional silos. By responding to Sustain Ontario’s questions, parties will be speaking directly to how they intend to advance critical issues such as jobs, health, environment, social services and education.
“In our 2011 Vote ON Food campaign, we saw all parties make a commitment to public sector procurement of local food, which then became a key piece of the Local Food Act passed last November,” says Ravenna Nuaimy-Barker, Director of Sustain Ontario. “The current election campaign will give parties the opportunity to demonstrate their continued support, as well as to provide further commitments by proposing creative new solutions to the sector’s most pressing needs.”
“When economic health is mentioned in this election, the potential of the food and farming sector should be at the front of everyone’s mind,” says Bryan Gilvesy, Co-Chair of the Sustain Ontario Advisory Council. “It has grown to become the top employer in the province, supporting over 740,000 jobs. This is just one example of how food has the power to make change. Voters want to know what each party will do to support this important sector.”
In 2011 the Vote ON Food campaign achieved pledges from every party to ease regulatory burdens that hinder the growth of regional and small-scale processing. The parties also presented their plans for training programs, tax exemptions, and alternative financing as diverse solutions for vital capacity-building for future generations of farmers. With the 2014 campaign Sustain Ontario will seek reaffirmation of these commitments and ask for pledges on a number of other critical issues. The campaign builds on Sustain Ontario’s submission to the pre-budget consultations earlier this year, urging the government to promote investment in the sector’s far-reaching scope.
Sustain Ontario’s election resources are publicly available on the Vote ON Food website (www.voteonfood.ca). The 2014 Report Card will be available once parties share their commitments in response to Sustain Ontario’s survey. The Vote ON Food campaign provides a template email letter for voters to send to their candidates, as well as fact sheets and a question card for citizens to use during public debates, among other resources.
Stay up to date and contribute to the campaign by using the hashtag #voteONfood. For more news and resources, visit voteonfood.ca.
Sustain Ontario is a province-wide cross-sectoral alliance that is working to create a food system that is healthy, ecological, equitable and financially viable. Sustain Ontario members represent diverse sectors - farming, health, environment, business, education, academia, government and non- profit. Sustain Ontario engages with its membership and supporters to take a collaborative approach to research, policy development, and action by addressing intersecting issues related to healthy food and local sustainable agriculture.
Sustain Ontario is a project of Tides Canada Initiatives Society.
Visit sustainontario.ca for more information and to get in touch.