Expanding Opportunities for the Ontario Food Terminal and the Agri-Food Sector
AVI YUFEST, Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs CHRISTA ROETTELE, Communications Branch, OMAFRA
TORONTO: Ontario has introduced changes to legislation that would support the distribution of local food and other agricultural products by enabling the Ontario Food Terminal to increase the range of products it sells. This is part of the province’s Main Street Recovery Plan, announced on October 7th, to continue helping businesses rebuild, reinvest and create good jobs. “The Ontario Food Terminal is a key economic driver in our agri-food sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “Our government is committed to the Terminal’s long-term success. We are creating more economic opportunities for farmers and the agri-food sector by expanding the Terminal’s role and the diverse range of agri-food products it provides to wholesalers and retailers.” “Thousands of small businesses, from farms to independent grocery stores to local restaurants, rely on the Ontario Food Terminal for their success,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “By enhancing the Ontario Food Terminal’s role in the promotion of locally produced food and other agricultural products, we are encouraging small business growth and the increased sales of the more than 200 kinds of agricultural products produced in Ontario. Changing the definition of what can be sold through the Terminal is a key way we’re helping agribusiness weather the storm and seize new opportunities.” On October 7th, 2020, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, announced Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan and introduced Bill 215, the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 which would support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. If passed, the Act will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities, while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment. As part of this fall legislative opportunity, the province proposed amendments to the Ontario Food Terminal Act, to address legislative barriers and help enable the Board to implement its plan for the long-term sustainability of the Terminal. Broadening what can be sold at the Ontario Food Terminal, from fruit and produce to a larger selection of agricultural products, would diversify the array of products available for sale, including for example Christmas wreaths and decorative corn. This would in turn increase economic opportunities for both buyers and sellers at the Terminal. These changes reflect some of the Terminal Board’s recommendations, which are consistent with the goals of the Main Street Recovery Act of making Ontario more Open for Business and supporting local businesses in their recovery from COVID-19.