VIDEO: Wilson Outraged with Liberals Decimation of Horse Racing Industry
(October 12, 2013) On Friday, Simcoe-Grey MPP Jim Wilson and Ontario PC Party Leader Tim Hudak responded to what appears to be the latest in the Wynne Government’s pattern of putting their own political interests ahead of Ontarians with the closure of all but eight of Ontario's horse racing facilities and a final blow to a once prosperous industry.
“When we (the PCs) brought in the Slots at Racetracks Program it was considered a win-win,” said Wilson. “It solved the government’s problem at the time of where do we put legal gambling without having to open up new sites.”
“We never saw the money we put in each year as a subsidy. That was new language that came out of Mr. McGuinty and Mr. Duncan. It was considered an investment. It was considered, basically, the rent we were paying to use the facilities to put our slot machines in.”
Wilson is outraged with the Liberals so-called funding announcement for the horse racing sector that they themselves destroyed over the past two years with their decision to end the Slots at Racetracks Program. The government will provide up to $400 million over five years to drastically shrink an industry that generates billions annually for the provincial economy. The amount is only eight times more than the Liberals paid bureaucrats to come up with the funding scheme.
“I know that in my part of the province and in Tim’s, not only have racetracks closed, but you literally go along the highways and back roads and you see horse equipment, horse trailers, buggies, everything up for sale in the ditches,” said Wilson. “Thousands of people have been thrown out (of a job) and the fact of the matter is it’s criminal what they did. The Liberals have never explained to this day, as far as I know, how they are going to make up the revenue they used to make in the old program.”
Ontario PC Party Leader Tim Hudak spoke about the impact the loss of the program will have on jobs. “By eliminating the Slots at Racetracks Program (The Liberals) tossed 65,000 people out of jobs,” said Hudak. “Kathleen Wynne, now that she’s concerned about an election campaign, has discovered bags of money that she’s going to throw back at the industry. I don’t think the hardworking people in the horseracing sector in rural Ontario are going to be fooled by that.”
Jobs in the horse racing industry account for over $1.5 billion in wages, with $47,145 being the average for racetrack operation employees and $55,035 the average for those working on backstretches and farms. The industry as a whole spends on average $2 billion per year with 80 percent of it being spent in rural and agricultural communities. This has all been lost with the cancellation of what was once a working program.