The issue of food has not been a major issue on the Ontario election campaign trail this month. The Progressive Conservatives, the governing Liberals and the New Democrats are addressing jobs, the economy and taxes. But one party believes food and farming in the province must be discussed.
According to a news release from the Green Party of Ontario (GPO)
, Mike Schreiner, Member of Provincial Parliament candidate for Simcoe-Grey, urged Queen’s Park Tuesday to promote and protect farmers in Ontario. Schreiner, elected Green leader since late 2009, says his party is the only one that has put forth the issue.
The GPO, if elected, would immediately make the farming system and healthy food a top priority, while creating a Food and Farming Strategy that would promote and protect Ontario farmers. Schreiner stated that it will give all Ontarians access to healthy local food.
“Ontario needs real change at Queen’s Park,” he said. “The empty rhetoric of the other parties has only led to fewer local farmers and the closure of local food processors. Only a Green MPP will raise this important issue to ensure all Ontarians have access to healthy local food. We will push for accountability and demand action.”
He added that Ontario maintains a farming workforce under the age of 35 of only 7,000. “Without action on this issue today, Ontario’s food system will crumble.”
The GPO announced its strategy:
- Cutting bureaucratic red tape for family farms and local food processors.
- Invest $100 million over the span of four years to reward farmers for stewardship practices.
- Support campaigns that encourage Buy Local.
- Invest and develop a four-year, $200 million healthy school food program.
- Improve income stabilization programs for family farms.
- Investing in rural infrastructure.
- Creating a standard for purchasing 40 percent Ontario food for all public institutions.
- Eliminate tax penalties and reduce zoning restrictions for on-farm food businesses.