What’s the most important investment in rural Ontario?
By Neil Currie OFA
By Neil Currie OFA
Nov. 25, 2016, Guelph, Ont. – Affordable energy is a serious issue in Ontario. Rural Ontario is the hardest hit by energy inflation with most businesses, residents and farms relying on electricity, propane or heating oil to support their way of life.
Higher energy costs make rural Ontario unaffordable for new businesses. Rising costs creates energy poverty as a greater proportion of income goes to heating bills. The need for affordable energy has never been more important for rural Ontario and farm businesses, and the answer is natural gas.
The expansion of natural gas is the single most important investment Ontario can make to support a vibrant and thriving rural Ontario. The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) is partnering with industry and natural gas companies to call on the provincial government to make a public investment in providing natural gas access for rural Ontario – to support both economic and community expansion.
Energy is one of the largest input costs on farms. Our farm businesses need competitively priced energy to continue to provide Ontarians with the high quality food products they have come to love and trust. Rural businesses need competitively priced energy to survive and thrive in a global market. Our communities need affordable energy to alleviate poverty and to enable growth.
SAVINGS OF $1 BILLION ACROSS THE PROVINCE
Expanding natural gas infrastructure across the province would save Ontarians $1 billion annually. That’s money that can be reinvested in our communities and grow our economy. Investing in natural gas access will reduce pressure on our electrical grid, reduce greenhouse gases by switching to a cleaner, readily available energy source, create jobs across the province and alleviate growth stress on our urban communities.
Rural Ontario’s economy is significant to all Ontarians. Already, Ontario’s agriculture and food processing sector contributes $36.4 billion to the annual GDP and generates 790,000 jobs. And there’s room to grow. Saving money on energy, one of the most expensive and necessary inputs, will jumpstart growth, create jobs and help meet the Premier’s challenge for growth – to double Ontario’s agri-food sector growth rate and create 120,000 new jobs by 2020.
OFA is working with the provincial government and gas companies to develop a fair and equitable way to install new natural gas pipeline across rural Ontario every year for the next 20 years. But that means the government needs to invest in making this happen. Visit ontarioruralgrowth.ca for more information about why an investment in natural gas access for rural Ontario is vital.
Neil Currie is the general manager with the Ontario Federation of Agriculture.