Ontario is committing to a long-term funding agreement with the horse racing sector, supporting jobs in rural Ontario and strengthening local economies across the province.
The new agreement will provide up to $105 million a year, for 19 years, for the horse racing sector, starting April 1, 2019, plus additional supports for smaller racetracks and those that are experiencing financial shortfalls.
To further help transform the industry and bolster rural communities, Ontario will continue the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program and introduce a new Racetrack Sustainability Innovation Fund, providing up to $6 million over three years, beginning in 2018, to help regional racetracks innovate, diversify and expand revenue sources to ensure the vitality of the industry for generations to come.
The long-term funding agreement will also empower the horse racing industry to work together to make long-term decisions about horse breeding, racing programs, capital investments and hiring. It will include specific measures focused on supporting community racetracks, including operational funding and purses.
Ontario’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change includes a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, easier access to affordable child care, and free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation.
“Today, our government is committing to a landmark agreement that will support the long-term sustainability of horse racing in Ontario,” said Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance. “This funding will encourage economic development in rural communities across the province, while giving race tracks and breeders an opportunity to build a strong future for an industry that is central to our heritage.”
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Jeff Leal, echoed this sentiment, saying: “Our government recognizes that the horse racing industry is vital to communities across Ontario. That’s why our government remains committed to ensuring long-term sustainability of the horse racing industry and the rural communities that depend on it. This new, collaborative agreement will provide owners, breeders and racetrack operators with the support they need to ensure stability and success for the long term.”
Stephen Rigby, president and CEO, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, added: “This agreement is a significant step toward ensuring the vitality of horse racing in Ontario. It is designed to benefit the entire industry and is the result of years of collaboration with the sector and the Ontario government. OLG will contribute nearly two decades of stable funding to promote sustainability and industry-led success.”
Industry insiders responded positively, including Bob Broadstock, president, Quarter Racing Owners of Ontario Inc., who said: “We are very happy with the announcement of long term funding for the horseracing sector. This commitment will provide the security that the Quarter Horse industry and the people that work in it need to continue our work and plan for the long term sustainability of the sector.”
Peter Berringer, president and national director, Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, Ontario Division, added: “The breeders are really excited and look forward to reading the details of the long term funding agreement. Long term funding will provide greater stability and transparency in the industry, and support economic development in rural communities.”
- Ontario is home to 15 racetracks — more than any other North American jurisdiction.
- Funding will be administered by Ontario Racing, which is responsible for representing industry interests, making strategic business decisions, and strengthening transparency and accountability.
- The Ontario Racing board will have equal representation of racetracks and breeders, with five seats for racetracks, five for breeders and an independent chair.
- The new long-term funding agreement will replace the existing Horse Racing Partnership Funding Program.