This meeting is the first under the Ontario-Saskatchewan Free Trade Memorandum of Understanding
By Jonathan Martin
Ernie Hardeman, Ontario's minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, met with David Marit, Saskatchewan's minister of agriculture, in Québec City yesterday to discuss China’s restrictions on beef, pork and canola and “strongly encourage the federal government” to resolve the issues in collaboration with the Asian country.
The meeting is part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, and Scott Moe, Ford’s Saskatchewan counterpart, signed in October.
"As provincial ministers, we need to work together to ensure the federal government addresses agri-food sector concerns," said Hardeman in a Wednesday release. "There are huge opportunities for our industries to grow; however, I have heard too often about the difficulties farmers face with red tape and excessive regulation.”
Hardeman and Marit held their meeting at the annual conference of federal, provincial and territorial agriculture ministers and deputy ministers of agriculture. There, ag ministers from around the country discuss issues affecting the industry and develop policy options to address them.
Despite being present at the conference, critics of Ontario and Saskatchewan’s aren’t playing well with others.
Ontario and Saskatchewan developed the MOU at the exclusion of trade with other provinces, Taras Natyshak, Essex’s MPP and trade critic, said when the provinces struck the bilateral deal.
Canada needs a comprehensive strategy to manage internal trade, “not a patchwork of little one-off agreements,” MPP Peter Tabuns told The Star in an October interview.
Neither Ford nor Moe announced any new policies governing interprovincial or international trade following Tuesday’s meeting.
Something will come of the agreement, however, Hardeman said.
“In Ontario, we are committed to reducing regulatory burden and costs so farmers can concentrate on what they do best: feeding families," Hardeman said.