May 12, 2011 — Everyone who lives and works in Ontario is governed by regulations. Regulations ensure we have safe drinking water, a robust healthcare system and our environment is preserved for future generations. Because we own land and produce food, farming and the agri-food sector is a heavily regulated industry.
When the Ontario government took a hard look at regulations and regulatory processes last fall, as part of its Open for Business initiative, OFA was there. The Open for Business initiative set out to identify regulations that unnecessarily hinder or restrict profitability within the agriculture and agri-food sector. OFA was asked to lead the consultations with the farm and agri-food sector across the province. With a history of advocating for well-crafted regulations that avoid unintended consequences to the farming and agri-food sector, we were happy to do so.
After an extensive consultative process, OFA responded with a list of priority issues to protect the public interest while encouraging sustainable development across the food chain.
Our concerns and recommendations were heard by the provincial government. Each priority issue was presented, reviewed and accepted. Our priorities will now be considered by government ministries when establishing new regulations and reviewing existing regulations. These outcomes will help farmers, agri-food businesses and the entire agricultural value chain by reducing unnecessary barriers and outdated regulations while maintaining the integrity of our industry.
We are very pleased with the results and our role in speaking on behalf of farmers across Ontario. OFA’s regulatory priorities in the Open for Business initiative have resulted in a number of processes Ontario ministries will implement in regulatory development and delivery.
The result for Ontario producers and agri-food companies includes the following key outcomes:
• Agriculture and agri-food sectors affected by new regulations will be consulted early and often during the drafting process.
• Existing regulations that no longer meet legislative objectives or accommodate new technology will be reviewed on a regular basis.
• All provincial ministries will work together to ensure consistent and accurate interpretation of regulations by inspection and enforcement officers.
• Service standards will be streamlined for licensing, permitting and approvals processes such as certificates of approval and reduced "red tape" on drainage approvals.
• Regulatory compliance incentives will be considered as a substitute to regulations or enforcement.
Some of these results from OFA’s consulting role in the Open for Business initiative mean farmers and the agri-food sector can look forward to seeing measureable improvements in the time that it takes for government agencies to process applications for water taking permits, certificates of approval for installation of new equipment and technologies, and municipal drain maintenance.
The Open for Business initiative demonstrates how positive change can take place quickly when industry and government work together with a common purpose. Our thanks go to colleagues in the agri-food sector for working closely with us to produce tangible results. We also congratulate the Ontario government for initiating real regulatory reform in our sector. We look forward to continuing to work with our government colleagues to ensure that the regulatory framework protects both the public and private interests of Ontarians.