Wilson Committed to Restoring Horse Racing Industry in Ontario
(March 11, 2014) Last month at my agricultural town hall meeting in Elmvale, I was asked to provide clarity over what Tim Hudak and the Ontario PCs would do, if elected, to ensure that the horse racing industry is protected in Ontario. Let me share our plan to save this valuable industry and reverse the damage that the current government has admittedly done.
We all know that a prosperous horse racing industry is an essential component to Ontario’s rural economy. Before the ‘Slots at Racetracks’ program was cancelled the industry employed over 60,000 men and women across the province and injected billions into rural and agricultural communities.
The Liberals dissolution of the ‘Slots at Racetracks’ program to make way for 29 supposed new casinos—casinos we have heard little about—has devastated what was once a thriving industry. Not only was the decision a bad one, but it was a decision that was done without consultation or any kind of transition plan to allow sustainability.
The Liberals themselves, including former Agriculture Minister, Ted McMeekin, have admitted that their government “dropped the ball” on the issue. Over a year and a half after suddenly cancelling the program, the McGuinty-Wynne government went into damage control. Premier Kathleen Wynne admitted on CBC French Radio that the decision to cancel the program was “not a good decision” and announced her government would give the industry $400 million over five years in government grants—a fraction of the $1.3 billion per year the industry was previously able to generate themselves in gaming revenues ($1 billion went to the province, and $345 million went to the horse racing industry).
The Liberals short-sighted decision to remove slot machines from some racetracks has crippled horse racing in Ontario, resulting in mass job loss and fewer spinoff benefits for rural economies’. In fact, at my town hall, Brian Tropea from the Ontario Harness Horse Association noted that Liberal reforms have cut the industry in half.
It is these jobs that the PCs seek to restore.
To do that, my colleagues and I have developed a three-point plan: Restore slot machines; form public-private partnerships with businesses that know how to run a proper ‘Slots at Racetracks’ program, with accountability measures in place; and share the revenue locally.
The PCs are committed to not only re-establishing, but fixing the ‘Slots at Racetrack’ program. We want to build off what has been working. For example, we believe that new gaming operations, like table games and sport betting should be offer to racetracks first as opposed to building 29 new casinos.
We will seek to end the Liberals’ so-called ‘modernization plan’ and get rid of the Horse Racing Transition Panel that wastes hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on sunshine list bureaucrats rather than investments in the industry. And, we will also ensure strong transparency mechanisms to show how the revenue is used.
Further information and the core elements of our plan click on the links below.
To read whitepaper (Path 15), Paths to Prosperity: Respect for Rural Ontario click here
To read backgrounder, Ontario PC Plan for Horse Racing Jobs click here