Horse racing in race for survival

Oct. 31, 2012

OTTAWA – Time is of the essence to solve pressing issues facing Ontario’s horse racing industry nine months after the provincial Liberal attempt to annihilate it.

The final report of the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel was released Oct. 30, a little more than two months after the draft report. It calls for a revamping of the betting system and $300,000 in transition money – a solution Haldimand-Norfolk MPP Toby Barrett calls too little, too late.

“There are upwards of 60,000 jobs that have been put at risk and many have already been lost – including jobs in Haldimand-Norfolk,” said MPP Toby Barrett. “The original announcement last February left families and businesses in chaos. Now, here we are almost nine months later, and they’re just starting to put together plans to deal with the crisis created by Government.”

When the final report was released, it stated certain parts of it were withheld. Interestingly, the initial draft stated “If the industry closes, the panel has received expert advice that provision should be made for the humane dispatch and disposal of 7,500-13,000 horses in early 2013”. That information was not included in the final report – at least not the public one.

Barrett’s colleague Ottawa MPP Lisa MacLeod introduced a private members motion calling on the auditor to review the new gambling and casino plans. She also asked that a public referendum take place prior to any new casinos being built. The Ontario Legislature supported her motion.

“This isn’t the first time the industry has been in trouble. It was struggling in the 1990s when the government I was part of introduced the revenue sharing plan now known as the Slots at Racetracks Program,” Barrett said. “It boosted race purses and allowed the industry to flourish to the point the Ontario horse industry was one of the best in North America. Mr. McGuinty cancelled that program in February and announced more casinos would be built.”

– 30 –

For more information call

MPP Toby Barrett at
1-800-903-8629 or 519-428-0446