THE VOICE OF ONTARIO'S FRUIT, VEGETABLE
AND GREENHOUSE PRODUCERS FOROVER 150 YEARS

What We're Working on For You: OFVGA issues and activities update September 2018

OFVGA representatives stand with the Honourable Lawrence MacAulay for a picture at the Harrow research station

What we’re working on for you:
OFVGA issues and activities update

September 2018

For a PDF version, click here.

This new regular newsletter is to keep you, our members, informed about what the key issues and files are that OFVGA is currently tackling on behalf of growers.

For more information on any items in this newsletter, please contact Gordon Stock, Senior Policy and Government Relations Advisor, at gstock@ofvga.org or 519-763-6160, ext. 125.

 

The top three issues

1. Crop protection – PMRA Re-evaluations

OFVGA continues to monitor re-evaluation proposed and final decisions published by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA). Some concerns continue with respect to the re-evaluation process. OFVGA is working to build a productive working relationship with PMRA to improve the process.

Latest status: A revised mancozeb proposal is anticipated soon. Other proposed decisions currently open for consultation include thiamethoxam and clothianidin. OFVGA will be providing submissions on those chemistries to support continued use. Chris Duyvelshoff, crop protection advisor, joined the OFVGA team earlier this month and is quickly getting up to speed. Charles Stevens, OFVGA’s Crop Protection Chair, and Chris attended the U.S. IR-4 Food Use/Biopesticide Workshop in September. Meetings are also being held with PMRA staff to introduce Chris and see how re-evaluation processes can be improved.

 

2. Labour – Bill 148
OFVGA supports the new government’s campaign commitment to maintain minimum wage at its current rate of $14 an hour instead of proceeding with the increase to $15 in January 2019 as had been legislated by the previous Liberal government. Other aspects of Bill 148 of interest to OFVGA are what mechanism the new government will use to determine future minimum wage increases, and exemptions for agricultural workers.

Latest status: OFVGA met with Ontario’s labour minister, Laurie Scott, to raise awareness of edible horticulture’s perspectives on Bill 148. Minister Scott has publicly stated the government intends to keep its commitment to pause minimum wage at $14/hr for the time being. Future increases to minimum wage and other changes to Bill 148 have not yet been communicated.

 

3. Regulatory burden reduction

The new Ontario government has indicated its intent to improve the regulatory environment for businesses in Ontario, including farmers. In this light, OFVGA will be increasing its efforts toward identifying specific areas where regulations can be made smarter and more effective for the fruit and vegetable sector.

Latest status: OFVGA representatives attended a roundtable meeting with Premier Ford, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman and Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton at the International Plowing Match. Our messaging pushed the idea of smarter regulation, improved service-driven government (versus compliance), and urging government to continue support for the Foodland Ontario program. Representatives also indicated OFVGA’s support for pausing minimum wage increases, and cap-and-trade repeal.  A follow-up letter from OFVGA to the Premier and both Ministers reiterated these points.

 

Other files we’re keeping an eye on

Environment

Carbon Pricing: The OFVGA is monitoring the Ontario government’s activities with respect to the repeal of cap-and-trade, as well as the federal government’s intentions for imposing a carbon tax starting January 2019. OFVGA’s position is that all agricultural fuels be exempt from all carbon pricing initiatives. The province has initiated a public consultation regarding cap-and-trade on the Environmental Registry; OFVGA will be submitting comments.

 

Safety nets
Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM): OFVGA has written to Minister Hardeman seeking confirmation that the expansion of Risk Management Program funds committed to in the election campaign will also include the SDRM program for horticulture. The Minister has committed that horticulture will be included in discussions that relate to the expanded program.

Edible horticulture support program: OFVGA is lobbying to ensure this program, announced last fall, is maintained and that the second payment will be completed next April as planned. This issue has been raised with Minister Hardeman through written correspondence and during conversations; however, no commitments have been made to date.

 

Labour

Ensuring respectful SAWP audits: The federal government through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has been stepping up compliance audits for farms who employ workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. Concerns have been raised about how these integrity audits are carried out and the sweeping powers afforded to auditors during the process. The OFVGA continues to monitor the situation and is documenting and addressing grower concerns as they arise.

 

Federal jurisdiction issues

OFVGA was invited to tour a greenhouse in the Leamington area with federal agriculture minister Lawrence MacAulay on September 21. During the tour, key federal issues were discussed, including crop protection, labour, trade and market access, and carbon pricing. The OFVGA is pleased with the subsequent announcement by MacAulay, which detailed a $70 million investment into agricultural innovation.

 

Business management and labour training opportunities for fruit and vegetable farmers

The Agricultural Management Institute is offering two programs to fruit and vegetable farmers this fall:

  1. Advanced Farm Management Program for Fruit and Vegetable Growers: the program runs for five Mondays, beginning December 3, 2018. For more details click here.

  2. Labour Resources for Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers: this is a one-day program being held on November 29 in Grimsby. For more details click here.

Your support in making your grower members aware of these two programs is greatly appreciated.

 

Meetings and events we are attending

September 28: Agriculture wildlife conflict working group 

October 3 – 4: Canadian Greenhouse Conference

October (TBD): Meeting with Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Rod Phillips

October 10: Meeting with Minister Hardeman

October 18 – 20: Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit

November 1: Farm and Food Care Harvest Gala

November 5 – 7: Canadian Horticultural Council fall harvest lobbying event

November 27 – 29: Grow Canada Conference