Statement from the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on the Horse Racing Industry
Today, Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released the following statement on the final report from the horse racing industry transition panel:
"After nearly five months of consultations, discussions and an interim report, I've now received the final report from the horse racing industry transition panel that sets out a vision for a successful and sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario.
The panel concluded, in its interim report, that the government made the right decision to end the Slots at Racetracks program -- a program that cost taxpayers $345 million a year. The panel said it would be a mistake to reinstate the program -- going so far as to call it 'poor public policy.'
In the final report, the panel maps out a new path forward for the industry including a new model for horse racing that focuses on the consumer and one that is rooted in principles of good public policy -- accountability, transparency and the assurance that any dollars invested are returned to the public through tax revenue. Some of the specific recommendations that reflect these principles include:
- Funding racing prizes, or 'purses' through wagering revenue.
- Developing a new, transparent governance model.
- Requiring full race cards to ensure continued racing opportunities for horses, maximize the sector's economic benefits and respond to the interests of the betting public.
- Setting conditions for accessing transitional public funding to support race track operations that reflect the public interest.
- Continuing support for breeders through the Ontario Horse Improvement Program.
I am pleased to see that a group of racetracks and key organizations within the industry have already indicated a willingness to work within these principles, and I welcome further interest.
Our government is committed to helping the horse racing industry to transition. That's why, with continued assistance of the panel, we're immediately beginning negotiations with the industry on specific agreements to secure the 2013 racing season and set the foundation for continued success.
I am heartened by the progress we've made together, but know that there is still more to be done. I am confident that this current spirit of collaboration will continue as we work together to transition the horse racing industry to a more sustainable future."