By Nathan Stevens
March 30, 2012
The Christian Farmers Federation of Ontario is encouraged by the direction set out in the proposed Ontario Budget. The provincial government is taking the financial and economic realities in Ontario seriously, and is proposing a wide range of changes to adjust to the new reality. The tough measures laid out will require a strong commitment from our government and the people of Ontario to get this province back on track.
In its pre-budget consultation submission, the CFFO urged the government to get its financial house in order. If we look at the past, tough choices that were made by the Canadian and Ontario governments in the 1990s resulted in a relatively healthy economy and a period of low interest rates. The proposed budget is a major shift in direction for the Province that appears to be focused on accomplishing those goals.
Specific to agriculture, the CFFO is satisfied that the made-in-Ontario Risk Management Program will be continued and is looking forward to working with Agriculture Minister McMeekin and his staff to improve the effectiveness and value of the program. Ontario’s farm organizations and government have worked hard to develop this program and the CFFO is willing to work equally hard at making the necessary changes. We believe that the program should meet both the needs of farmers and the new reality of the province’s financial situation.
Of particular interest to rural Ontario is the proposed restructuring at the Ministry of Natural Resources. The CFFO hopes that the new approach will make it easier for farmers to interact with this ministry in a wide number of areas. For example, implementation of the Endangered Species Act will change under the new approach. The CFFO hopes that this will result in an outcome-based approach with full consultation with industry and OMAFRA to achieve the most effective and efficient results possible.
The proposed Ontario budget signals a new direction for the province. Time will tell if the Liberal government has the will to hold firm in its new direction and steer the province back on the road to a sustainable future. For now, we thank them for taking this bold step forward.
Nathan Stevens is the Interim 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.