Premier Wynne and Minister Leal Standing with Ontario's Agri-Food Sector
Premier Kathleen Wynne and Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, released a statement following a roundtable with leaders from Ontario's agri-food sector today:
"Ontario's agri-food businesses are vital to our economy and to communities across our province, and free trade and access to international markets are important to their success. In the face of U.S. uncertainty and questions as to the impact of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CP-TPP), we are standing up for our farmers and food processors. They deserve fairness, and that's what we're fighting for, whether in the U.S., in discussions with our federal government or in the way new trade agreements impact their ability to remain competitive.
Today, we had the opportunity to sit down and talk with industry leaders about the issues they're facing and the steps we are taking to be their number one champion and advocate.
We heard that workers and industry leaders continue to be concerned about the uncertainty that the NAFTA renegotiations are creating, and that while the Canadian government's decision to sign on to the CP-TPP will create new opportunities for Ontario's livestock, grains and oilseeds, processed goods, and horticulture sectors in accessing new markets, concerns do exist around the new access granted to our supply-managed sectors.
The CP-TPP promises to bring new opportunities for trade, investment and job creation in Ontario. But while more free trade with more global partners is a welcome development, we remain adamant that we should not allow these new opportunities to be created at the expense of Ontario's supply-managed businesses. Last week, Ontario called on the federal government to provide at least $1.4 billion over 10 years in transitional assistance to help our agri-food sector in a manner that allows it to maximize the new opportunities being presented while also allowing for adjustment for new access provided to supply-managed markets. This is consistent with the level of funding that the federal government committed to in 2015, and it needs to remain our approach in 2018.
As round seven of NAFTA negotiations continue in Mexico, our position on U.S. proposals to alter Canada's supply management system remains firm -- they are unacceptable and a non-starter. Supply management allows hard-working Ontario farmers and processors to consistently meet the demand for safe, high-quality products for Ontario and Canadian consumers. It guarantees us food security of the highest quality, and is a cornerstone of strong rural communities and good jobs. We will continue to work closely with our federal partners to ensure the interests of Ontario's farmers and food producers are represented at the NAFTA table.
At the same time, we are increasing Ontario's engagement south of the border to ensure our decades-long partnership continues to grow, creating jobs and opportunity for Ontario workers. Last week, the Premier was in Washington at the National Governors Association Winter Meeting and met with key U.S. leaders to underscore the value of continued trade and partnership with Ontario.
We both value the honest and open feedback and expert advice that Ontario's agri-food leaders shared with us today. And we share their concerns and will always be the first to stand up for their interests. Good things are grown in Ontario, and we know that together, we will ensure it continues to be the case."