MPP Tim Hudak has released a report, titled “Paths to Prosperity: Respect for Rural Ontario”, that outlines the PC party’s suggestions for supporting rural Ontario. After a year-long consultation with farmers, agribusiness, OHRIA and others, the paper offers 15 suggestions to improve the provinces agricultural industry, including his vision the horse racing industry.
Following is an excerpt from the page 24 of the White Paper focusing on the horse racing industry.
A Better Path Forward for Horse Racing
The horse racing industry is an essential component of Ontario’s rural economy. It employs 60,000 men and women, giving them work they love, and helping to sustain towns and rural communities across the province.
Horse racing is simply an irreplaceable part of rural life, but all the good it creates has been threatened by an ill-considered government policy that will leave a much smaller industry with an uncertain future, if it has any future at all.
People across rural Ontario are rightly concerned about the current government’s decision to end the slots at racetracks plan that has been in place since 1998, pushing aside rural Ontarians in favour of big international casino corporations. The current government has wrongly portrayed the program as a subsidy to horse racing. In fact, it is an economic development partnership that sees 75 per cent of the profits from the slots go to the province, 10 per cent to horsemen, 10 per cent to racetrack operators and five per cent to local municipalities. It is a plan that has worked well for the government and for the horse racing industry.
The government has created temporary deals with some tracks, essentially to pay a bit of rent to house the slots and keep some money flowing while it works on its big casino expansion plan. But that doesn’t give the horse racing industry any certainty.
There is a better way. The Ontario PC Caucus has proposed alternatives that would save thousands of jobs and revitalize a job-creating sector of our economy. Our critic for Economic Development Monte McNaughton has undertaken an extensive province-wide consultation with the horse racing and casino industries to look at long-term, sustainable alternatives to the current gaming strategy.
So far, we have heard overwhelmingly positive feedback on a proposal put forward in a previous discussion paper, Paths to Prosperity: A New Deal for the Public Sector, to give racetrack operators an opportunity to buy existing slots operations at fair market value, which could save their industry while still providing a good return to taxpayers.
We need to shelve the OLG’s empire building plan to open up 29 new casinos. If we decide to expand gaming option, then why not build off of what is already working and successful in welcoming communities? This would provide the certainty necessary to make investments and create jobs in Ontario.
We will strengthen partnerships with the job-creating horse racing industry, not tear them apart. It’s what rural Ontario, the horse racing industry and thousands of dedicated workers deserve.
Horse racing must be a key component of Ontario’s gaming strategy. The government should cancel the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation plan to abandon racetrack slots and spend money on new casinos. Instead, we will build partnerships with the horse racing industry, allowing it to thrive.
Click on this link to read the full document: http://www.ontariopc.com/paths