Date: September 2, 2011
Modernizing regulation – a top priority
By Bette Jean Crews, President, Ontario Federation of Agriculture
We’re all affected by regulations every day. Whether it’s a farmer applying for municipal water access or a renovation permit for a local downtown store, every industry is governed, in part, by regulations. Some regulations ensure healthy waterways and safety standards, others may be outdated or create unnecessary restrictions and time delays.
That’s why regulatory modernization is a hot button for the Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) and why we’re influencing policies that will help, not hinder the agri-food industry. In fact, reducing regulatory red-tape is one of the key election issues OFA is addressing in the weeks leading up to the October 6 provincial election. OFA has been an integral part of the Open for Business strategy, co-chairing the initiative with the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA).
The Open for Business strategy has already successfully reduced regulatory burdens on the agri-food industry by 28 per cent. This new process for regulatory changes includes consulting the industry often and early, and OFA and OMAFRA will host consultations at least twice a year with representation from farming, food processing and agriculture input supply sectors.
So far, the industry consultation process has seen the modernization of outdated regulations, streamlined application processes for some regulatory permits, and provided an ongoing opportunity to discuss regulations affecting the agri-food industry that overlap across multiple provincial ministries.
Agriculture isn’t the only industry affected by regulations – many other sectors would also like to reduce red-tape. The Ontario Chamber of Commerce has identified a lighter regulatory burden as an important priority for stimulating the economy and is also emphasizing regulatory reduction as a provincial election issue. The Open for Business Strategy demonstrates just how proactive our industry is in establishing a new strategy to address process. While the new process may not address single regulations, the OFA is looking at long-term change in the way our industry does business with all ministries of the provincial government to pave the way for continuous efficiency improvements for all Ontario farms.
And it’s working. Ontario’s farm outputs contributed $22 billion in gross economic stimulus to Ontario in 2009, and reducing regulatory burdens returns a significant impact on improving the productivity and economic impact of our industry. Reducing red-tape for farmers and the agri-food sector creates a more competitive environment for businesses while supporting Ontario farm families. And that’s good for business.