Reps from Ontario’s fruit and vegetable industry met with provincial government officials to communicate the industry’s key interests
By Jackie Clark
Representatives from the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (OFVGA) went to Queen’s Park on Nov. 26 to meet with provincial government officials on behalf of their sector. The industry reps focused on informing MPPs, ministers and political staffers about issues important to the horticultural sector.
“That’s my angle – relationship building, understanding the industry,” Bill George, chair of the OFVGA, told Farms.com. “Even if it’s not a need-based ask, we bring awareness of who we are and what we do.”
By building that awareness with politicians, “when we do go back in on a specific ask that we need help with, I think they will be well-versed in what we’re all about,” George said.
“We’ve built a relationship with them and that makes it easier to have discussion when the time comes – when the industry needs a certain ask or certain assistance for our growers,” he added.
“We actually had a lobby day in the spring as well, so we wanted to follow up on that and do another little blitz of Queen’s Park. We meet with the minister of agriculture and some local MPPs,” he added.
OFVGA reps discussed the intricate process of reviewing Business Risk Management (BRM) programs with Ernie Hardeman, the minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs.
“We represent 120 different commodities. So, anytime we’re doing a BRM redesign it’s pretty unique in that sense. It takes us a bit more time and it’s a lot more complex,” George said.
George and his team also explained the significance of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) to provincial government officials.
“That is a federal issue for the most part through ESDC (Employment and Social Development Canada) but we think it’s important that our provincial members understand how important (the TFWP) is to horticulture in general,” he explained. The OFVGA reps spent some time “going over what we do for the workers to make sure they have a good, safe work environment.”
By spending the day at Queen’s Park, the OFVGA delegation could meet with many individuals involved in provincial politics.
“Certainly, you want to have meetings with ministers, but meeting with their political staff as well is very beneficial,” George said.
“Lot’s of MPPs are more urban-based, not rural, and they need to understand what the challenges are in agriculture.”
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