More Ontario-Grown Food In Schools, Hospitals
Welcome to this, our fifth Premier's summit on agri-food.
Years ago, when I served in opposition, I thought it would be a good idea or us to come together once a year in this way.
My thinking hasn't changed.
I believe we owe it to each other -- and we owe it to Ontarians -- to create an opportunity for all of us, together, to be "thoughtful" about farming and the
And especially about the future of the sector.
Our theme is "building economic opportunities and innovation though partnerships."
That last word is key.
Because partners make a simple, honest acknowledgement to each other:
We can go further together than we can on our own.
I want you to know that our government is eager to continue acting as a partner with all of you.
Our recent budget is all about helping you and all Ontarians go further than any of us could on our own.
Today, we face our biggest economic crisis in 80 years.
We need to help each other get through this storm.
And we need to take steps to emerge stronger on the other side.
These extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.
For an extraordinary level of cooperation among governments.
For an unprecedented willingness to do whatever it takes -- together --
to help our people through this difficult time and grow stronger.
Let's be clear: what's happening out there is big.
It's powerful and it's persistent.
It has Ontario, Canada, indeed all of the world, in its grip.
Getting out of this and growing stronger is going to take change.
And it's going to take all of us.
The world has changed.
And so must we.
We need to find a new way forward.
As a government, we have listened carefully.
We have looked at the experience elsewhere.
We have reflected.
And this is our conclusion:
We need to create a single sales tax.
We need to reduce business taxes.
We need to protect our families against new costs.
And we need to protect our public services.
So that's what we're going to do.
Which is why this Budget includes changes that will help farmers and the agri-food sector remain competitive in the global market.
We know you have a lot on your plate.
And you do it all so that the rest of us can have the best food on our plates.
Every day, you make countless decisions that help you grow or sell a quality product for Ontario consumers.
And help you remain competitive.
Well, we want to help you be even more competitive.
Under the new single sales tax, a family farm won't pay RST on items like cars, trucks, computers and freezers.
As well, our Budget proposes to reduce the rate of small business corporate income tax from 5.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
In a first for Canada, we will eliminate the small business surtax.
We're also reducing Ontario's general corporate income tax rate from 14 to 12 per cent next year, and then down to 10 per cent over three years.
And we're reducing the manufacturers and processors' rate from 12 to 10 per cent next year as well.
Our proposed tax cuts aren't just for business, by the way.
They're also for people -- 93 per cent of Ontarians will get an income tax cut.
So everyone including: farmers, rural families and people throughout the sector will see an individual benefit, as well as a benefit to the industry.
We've also worked hard to make it easier for shoppers to find Ontario foods in our stores and markets.
We know that you work hard to bring a quality product to market and -- because of your hard work -- Ontarians trust Ontario food.
So we're bringing the "Foodland Ontario" brand to more foods. It's not just fresh fruits and vegetables anymore. It's now going to include meat, dairy, eggs and bakery products.
Let's say someone in your community buys a chicken-pot pie with the Foodland logo at the grocery store.
When we consulted with you over the last year, you told us that at least 80 per cent of this processed product must be from Ontario to qualify for the Foodland logo.
And that's what we've done.
When Ontarians see that "Foodland Ontario" logo, they'll know that the chicken and vegetables in that pie are from right here in Ontario.
Providing jobs for Ontarians and supporting their families, and their communities.
You told us you agree completely:
When we say something is made in Ontario, we mean it.
This is what consumers want.
They want to know where their food comes from.
And they want it to come from Ontario.
Retailers know it too.
And that's why you're seeing more and more who are getting into the game.
To support that buy-local impulse, we've got oour own advertising and marketing campaigns.
And we know they are helping.
The percentage of consumers who are aware of the great variety of Ontario foods that are available has grown from 40 per cent to 69 per cent in one year.
So awareness is growing.
And so is action.
The percentage of consumers who take Ontario foods off the shelf and put them in their shopping cart, has gone from 25 to 36 per cent in the last year.
That's real improvement.
But we need to do better.
A lot better.
And I'm convinced our broader food coverage under the Foodland Ontario logo will help.
I want more Ontario food in more Ontario homes.
In fact, I want more Ontario food anywhere we eat in Ontario -- not just in our homes!
That's why we're investing $24 million over 3 years to help schools, hospitals, and food services companies and other institutions buy more Ontario grown food from Ontario farmers and processors.
I want the best for Ontarians, and the best is Ontario grown.
Right in this building, our Macdonald Block cafeteria serves locally-sourced food.
Eurest, our dining room caterer, is in partnership with the Ontario Egg Board, the Ontario Turkey Board, and the Ontario Chicken Farmers Association.
We also have vending machines offering Ontario dairy products.
We're working hard to grow our relationship with Ontarians.
And Ontarians understand that having a relationship with the people who grow their food is not only a healthy thing to do -- it's the right thing to do.
When we buy Ontario everyone wins:
- It's good for our families
- It's good for our farmers
- It's good for our rural economy
- And, it's good for our environment.
Here's something else we can do more of together -- make clean, green energy.
I see our agricultural sector as a key source for renewable energy innovation.
Innovation that will invigorate other sectors in the province and create new jobs.
New sources of energy are right in front of us in rural Ontario -- in manure, crop biomass, and food processing by-products.
We're helping you turn farm and food waste into clean energy through the Biogas Systems Financial Assistance Program.
It's all part of our proposed Green Energy Act, which will help promote renewable energy and create some 50,000 jobs.
I visited a dairy farm in Lindsay.
They're building a biogas generator there.
They're going to use manure from 600 cows to power 400 homes.
I'm sure there's a good joke in there somewhere.
My friends, it has been said that what matters most in every age are the ideals that inspire our efforts and the integrity of those efforts.
Ontarians share a powerful, noble ideal.
From towns to cities, from homes on quiet concession roads to families in apartment buildings, we want -- for our children and their children -- an Ontario worthy of their dreams.
We want an Ontario that is a place of boundless opportunity, built on a thriving economy that supports a caring society.
A society with the best schools for all our kids.
The best health care for all our families.
Strong environmental protections for all of us.
And compassionate support for our vulnerable.
The times may change.
But our informing ideal is constant.
This worldwide recession presents us with a challenge to be sure.
It's a setback for our people and our businesses.
But it is nothing that we can't overcome.
We've met great challenges before, and, every time, we have emerged stronger.
We are relentless.
We are determined.
We are successful.
We can do this.