Barrett outlines key budget items supporting rural Ontario


March 25, 2021 

Simcoe—Local MPP Toby Barrett is encouraged by the Ontario budget’s support of rural Ontario, its farmers, farm families and farm workers.  The budget, released yesterday, detailed funding dedicated to fostering rural economic strength and the safety and health of its people as we emerge from COVID-19.  

“Since the advent of COVID-19, I have been in countless Zoom meetings with stakeholders from across Haldimand-Norfolk,” said MPP Barrett.  “They all clearly outlined their challenges including TFWs and supply chain bottlenecks. I am pleased the government listened, and I’m buoyed by the supports outlined in the Ontario budget.”    

The budget commitments included more funding for farmers to maintain safe workplaces for employees and help cover increased costs, which were necessitated by critical health and safety protocols under the strain of COVID-19.   

Rural Ontario Highlights:  

  • The province is investing $10 million in 2021-2022 for a one-year extension to the Enhanced Agrifood Workplace Protection Program. This will support the implementation of measures to prevent and control COVID-19 and to address unforeseen worker health and safety issues.  
  • Pandemic-related challenges have resulted in disruptions in some meat processing facilities, impacting the food supply chain and causing livestock to back-up on farms.   To help respond to this disruption, Ontario is investing up to $5 million in 2021–22 for a one-year extension for AgriRecovery initiatives, including those related to livestock processing capacity, such as beef and pork set aside programs.  
  • This funding to boost capacity in the sector builds on the many government efforts to help strengthen Ontario’s economy as it rebounds from pressures experienced during the COVID-19 outbreak.   
  • Ontario is taking further action o work with our agri-food sector to ensure it has the capacity to continue to supply us with safe, high-quality and nutritious food.  

  • The government will spend an additional $2.8 billion to bring broadband access to more people across the province. The funding will ensure every region of the province has access to reliable broadband by 2025.  The funding is in addition to money previously committed dating back to 2019, with $4 billion in total being spent over six years.  

  • The government is also extending the funding to 2022–23 to support the following initiatives:  

    • The Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Wine Support Program to help Ontario wineries increase competitiveness and innovation. The program supports wineries investing in growing their VQA wine business, including tourism development activities.  

    • The Small Cidery Support Program to help eligible businesses grow and scale up their operations.  

    • Funding for wine marketing, tourism and export initiatives as well as research and development and performance measurement.  

These investments will help local wine and cider producers while the government continues to conduct its comprehensive review of the beverage alcohol sector. Through this review, the government will continue to look at ways to provide more choice and convenience to consumers and enable opportunities for businesses.   

Rural Stakeholder Feedback:  

Beef Farmers of Ontario

“Continued investment by our provincial and federal governments in the AgriRecovery Beef Emergency Feed Maintenance Initiative in Ontario serves as an important safeguard for our sector and is critically important to Ontario’s beef farmers in times of need.” says Rob Lipsett, BFO President. “While our intention is not to draw on the program, it’s reassuring to know it can be triggered quickly, if needed, as a result of a COVID-19 slowdown in our processing sector.”   

Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association  

“Fruit and vegetable farmers appreciate commitments made in the Ontario Government’s 2021 budget, which includes extended funding support for farmers to keep their employees safe and offset increased costs resulting from necessary health and safety protocols as farms continue to produce food for the people of Ontario during the pandemic,” says Bill George, Chair of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association. “Farmers also recognize the initiative the Ontario Government took last summer to accelerate its planned 2021 funding increase for the RMP/SDRM program by a year, helping offset some of the unforeseen risks and added costs the pandemic has imposed on growers.”  

Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers  

“OGVG thanks Minister Hardeman, the Premier and the Ontario government for their continued support to Agriculture in Ontario that was reflected in today’s budget,” said George Gilvesy, Chair of OGVG.  “Our members appreciate and value the government’s commitment to provide whatever support is necessary to secure our domestic food supply chain – today’s budget reinforces that commitment.  Working together we will get Ontario through the COVID-19 crisis and rebuild a province we will all be proud of.”  
Ontario Pork  

“On behalf of Ontario’s pork producers, we thank Minister Hardeman and the Ontario government for their ongoing investments into the agriculture sector through the COVID-19 pandemic. From new funding to support the purchase of personal protective equipment and AgriRecovery funds that help alleviate financial losses due to supply chain disruptions, Ontario’s government continues to demonstrate its support for Ontario agriculture.” Eric Schwindt, Chair, Ontario Pork  


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