Toronto – Premier Kathleen Wynne and Finance Minister Charles Sousa formally unveiled Ontario’s budget plan on May 1.
One of the details includes a new 10-year, $2.5-billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund that will offer grants to business investing in Ontario and creating jobs.
That new fund includes $40 million for the food and beverage industry annually for the next 10 years.
That’s good news to the Alliance of Ontario Food Processors (AOFP), the Food & Consumer Products of Canada (FCPC) and many in Ontario’s farm community.
Steve Peters, the AOFP’s executive director, says the alliance “is excited about working with the government to grow our industry.”
The AOFP represents more than 3,000 companies in the food and beverage sector, in which more than 125,000-plus persons are employed and more than $39 billion in sales is generated annually.
“The [Jobs and Prosperity Fund] is attractive to our members who are striving to continue to provide quality food and beverages in a competitive economy,” says Peters.
The AOFP adds that its members purchase more than 65 per cent of products directly from Ontario’s 37,000 farm families.
The FCPC adds that the food and beverage sector in Ontario also creates thousands of indirect jobs in everything from advertising, finance, packaging and transportation in rural and urban communities. The Greater Toronto Area alone, says the FCPC, is home to the second largest food and beverage manufacturing sector in North America.
Mark Wales, president of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, told BetterFarming.com that the fund is good news since “the more the processing sector grows, the more markets we have for what we [farmers] grow.” There are also opportunities for farmers who do processing, adds Wales.
BetterFarming.com says Wynne believes “the future of agriculture, the agri-food industry and rural Ontario…is vitally linked to the future success of Ontario’s economy.”
While the budget is good news to many, it’s still waiting on the NDP’s response.