The proposed legislation, which was tabled last fall when the legislature was prorogued, has been brought back for discussion again this week. The act would allow government a new way to work with the public and share information about the agri-food industry. It would also promote the introduction of a Celebrate Ontario Local Food Week, which would take place just before Thanksgiving.
The goal of the legislation is not only to improve eating habits but to also promote economic improvements in the province. As the agri-food industry in Ontario currently contributes more than $34 billion to the economy and employs more than 700,000 people, it is imperative to continue to support and strengthen this sector. In addition, Ontario food processors, the largest food processing sector in Canada, purchase about 65 per cent of their food inputs from Ontario farms.
There is hope that this bill will once again promote food processing in Ontario and encourage more Ontario families to eat and buy local, thereby increasing the ability for Ontario farmers to grow market share. What isn’t clear at this time is how this legislation will actually impact farmers. Will it mandate grocery chains and food processors to buy more Ontario goods? Will it provide tax breaks to the growers? Or will it simply be a way to encourage more marketing around buying local? We won’t know until the bill is further addressed in the legislature; it is expected to be wrapped up by the end of 2013.
Lisa Brodeur is a quality assurance supervisor with 360 Energy.