2016-2017 Published Plan

Table of Contents

  1. Ministry Programs
  2. Highlights of 2015-16 Achievements
  3. Ministry Organization Chart
  4. Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABCs)
  5. Detailed Financial Information
  6. Appendix: 2015-16 Annual Report

Ministry Overview

Mandate

Ontario's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) strives to be a global leader, unleashing the potential of Ontario's rural communities, and its agriculture and food systems. This is achieved by:

  • ensuring protection and assurance in the agri-food system;
  • providing stewardship of Ontario's capacity to produce food; and
  • fostering economic development of the agri-food sector and rural Ontario.

OMAFRA works to help the province's agriculture and food sectors succeed by:

  • supporting agri-food and agri-product businesses that are competitive at home and abroad;
  • fostering innovation, economic growth and jobs along the full agri-food value chain;
  • creating a regulatory environment that supports public confidence and economic success; and
  • collaborating with partner ministries and stakeholders to foster productive, sustainable agri-food systems.

In addition, the ministry promotes economic growth and opportunities for rural Ontario that support a high quality of life for rural residents. OMAFRA supports rural businesses, communities and regions by:

  • engaging rural stakeholders on their unique needs, insights and experiences;
  • developing and delivering effective rural infrastructure and economic development programs, tools and information to businesses, regions and communities; and
  • bringing a rural lens to government decision-making.

Through its actions, the ministry supports rural communities, which helps to build a high quality of life for all Ontario residents. By working together, and linking urban and rural communities, we can create a stronger economy in Ontario.

Ministry Contribution to Priorities and Results

OMAFRA's programs principally support the government's priority outcome of a Supportive & Dynamic Business Environment through its efforts to accelerate growth in the agri-food sector by attracting investment, increasing our domestic and international market share, and helping the sector meet the Premier's Agri-Food Growth Challenge to double its growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by 2020.

To achieve this, the ministry not only provides programs to deliver funding, but also provides tools and advisory services that support and stimulate economic development in rural communities and regions. It does this by facilitating, coordinating and delivering appropriate resources, assistance and information to help rural municipalities, organizations, businesses and entrepreneurs build on their strengths and work together to develop a stronger rural economy.

In addition, the ministry keeps Ontario competitive by ensuring protection and assurance in the agri-food system by auditing provincially licensed facilities to ensure they are meeting provincial food safety requirements.

The ministry also provides knowledge, resources and connections that help Ontario's agriculture and food businesses reap the benefits of cutting edge information, technology, research and marketing opportunities; leverage third-party funding through cost-shared support; and position them for sustainable growth.

The ministry also contributes to the government's priority outcome as a Leader on Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change Mitigation. It is committed to enhancing environmental protection efforts through technical education, outreach and advisory services that will assist Ontario's producers, and manage our soil and water resources effectively.

In addition to its own programming, OMAFRA also supports the Ministry of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure (MEDEI) by delivering rural infrastructure programming, which supports the government priority outcome of Modernized Infrastructure & Transportation Networks.

Through its support of these three priority outcomes, OMAFRA contributes to the government's efforts to create new opportunities and build a promising future for all the residents of Ontario.

Ministry Programs

Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-Product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities

Rural Ontario is home to about 2.7 million people, approximately 19 per cent of Ontario's population. In addition to agricultural businesses, rural Ontario is home to diverse industries, with the top three being trade (wholesale & retail), health care and social assistance, and manufacturing. The ministry offers resources under the headings of Economic Development, Research, Business Risk Management Transfers and Agriculture and Rural Affairs Capital. Together, these resources support the government's priority outcome of a Supportive & Dynamic Business Environment.

Economic Development:

The ministry provides strategic agri-food business development programs and funding that support good jobs and attract investment. OMAFRA also provides a range of local and regional economic development programs and resources, including Business Retention and Expansion, First Impressions Community Exchange, Downtown Revitalization, Community Immigrant Retention in Rural Ontario, Newcomers and Youth Indicators, Regional Economic Analysis Resources, Performance Measurement Resources, and Regional Advisory Services.

The funding programs offered by the ministry include the Horse Racing Industry Development Program, the Wine and Grape Strategy, Foodland Ontario, and the Food and Beverage Growth Fund. These programs assist the industry in working towards meeting the Premier's Agri-Food Growth Challenge to double the sector's growth rate and create 120,000 jobs by 2020. In addition, the ministry's Rural Economic Development (RED) program is being integrated with the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to help improve the coordination of regional support programs. The RED program has helped rural communities remove barriers to community development and promote economic growth to support sustainable rural economies and regions, while developing the capacity, tools and flexibility they need to become stronger, more prosperous communities.

The Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP) provides the horse racing industry with the tools to develop new sources of revenue and to build business relationships that will support a sustainable industry in Ontario. OMAFRA's Horse Racing Industry Development Program, continued under the HRPP, provides support for a Racehorse Welfare Component to ensure the welfare of racehorses, and a Horse Improvement Program to support the breeding of high quality Ontario racehorses. As announced through the 2016 Budget, the responsibility for OMAFRA's former Horse Racing Partnership Funding Program has transferred to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation going forward.

The Wine and Grape Strategy helps to support local wineries and grape growers, increase the competitiveness of the industry and promote tourism, thereby creating jobs and economic growth across the province.

Programs such as Foodland Ontario help to increase awareness of and celebration of local food, and develop consumer propensity to buy Ontario food first. The ministry supports the use of the Foodland Ontario logo on Ontario fresh and processed food products. It communicates the benefits of Ontario food, encourages the purchase of Ontario food, co-ordinates promotion and research activities with producer organizations and industry stakeholders, and promotes the Ontario brand.

The Food and Beverage Growth Fund – which is part of the province's ten-year, $2.7 billion Jobs and Prosperity Fund – supports food and beverage processing and bio-product manufacturing projects that will help create and retain jobs, strengthen supply chains, increase market access, and enhance innovation and productivity.

Research:

The ministry works in partnership with industry, academia and federal and provincial governments and agencies to advance and deliver research and innovation as a critical element in promoting growth of the agriculture and food sectors. Each year, OMAFRA invests approximately $75 million in research to support growth in the agricultural sector.

The ministry's Partnership Agreement with the University of Guelph is an essential component of research in Ontario's agri-food and bio-products sector. Through the Partnership Agreement, the ministry supports research, veterinary clinical education, laboratory services in animal health and agriculture and food, Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) and Knowledge Translation and Transfer (KTT). This long-term investment provides access to specialized expertise and facilities to address government, ministry, and industry priorities.

OMAFRA also invests in open research programs. These programs are competitive programs, open to public and private research organizations, drawing from a wide-range of institutions through annual calls for proposals and address current gaps, priorities and emerging issues not covered in the University of Guelph Partnership.

The ministry works with industry and other partners to focus research priorities, co-invest in research projects and infrastructure, and to encourage uptake through technology transfer activities.

OMAFRA is moving forward on implementing a strategy that will modernize its research and innovation programs, services and infrastructure, to intensify focus on consumer, market and economic outcomes in partnership with governments, industry and academia. Through these partnerships, collaborations and strategically targeted investments the government is able to leverage knowledge, technology and intellectual capacity, to extend its reach and build a sector that is aligned with government and industry priorities.

Business Risk Management Transfers:

Through its Business Risk Management (BRM) programming, the ministry helps Ontario's agricultural producers manage risks beyond their control, including weather and market volatility. It also includes other assistance to support initiatives that improve sector profitability. OMAFRA offers a variety of programs, primarily delivered through its crown agency, Agricorp.

Programs include federal/provincial programs under the Growing Forward 2 agreement (AgriInvest, AgriStability, AgriInsurance (Production Insurance), AgriRisk and AgriRecovery), and the provincial-only Risk Management Program (RMP) which includes the Self-Directed Risk Management Program (SDRM) for edible horticulture.

Agriculture and Rural Affairs Capital:

Working with federal, provincial and municipal governments, OMAFRA administers several municipal capital programs on behalf of MEDEI, with a particular emphasis on communities with populations of less than 100,000. These programs allow communities to build on projects that deliver on local needs, support revitalization and repair of critical infrastructure and help to create jobs in construction and related industries. These investments support the government priority outcome of Modernized Infrastructure & Transportation Networks.

The ministry's research is supported by the infrastructure platforms of its agency, the Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO), and includes research stations, labs and related agricultural infrastructure. These facilities provide the capacity for research on a wide variety of agri-food issues and support industry-driven research while leveraging third party investments.

Better Public Health and Environment

OMAFRA provides oversight of the agri-food system in Ontario and has responsibility for emergencies related to farm animal disease, food contamination, and agricultural plant disease and pest infestation.

The ministry is committed to ensuring food safety and healthy animals. OMAFRA works closely with the sector to ensure compliance with legislated standards for a wide variety of food products produced and processed in Ontario (meat, dairy, foods of plant origin, fish, and eggs).

OMAFRA is dedicated to enhancing food safety and animal health and welfare through technical education and outreach, advisory services, surveillance, and emergency management. The ministry continues its ongoing work to become a more modern regulator. OMAFRA staff work closely with sectors to set clear expectations and outcomes in meeting food safety and animal welfare regulatory requirements.  Education and awareness is a key compliance tool when working with the industry and will take stronger progressive compliance action to address significant food safety risks.

OMAFRA's risk and outcome-based programs protect and advance public health, animal health, animal welfare, and food safety which ultimately supports economic viability and sustainability of Ontario's agriculture industry and rural communities, as well as, provide confidence to consumers that Ontario's food is of high quality and produced in a safe, sustainable and ethical manner.

OMAFRA has been working with other ministries to deliver a Pollinator Health Strategy for Ontario that includes sustainable, long-term initiatives aimed at improving the health of bees and other pollinators.

The strategy supports the province's action to strengthen pollinator health to ensure healthy ecosystems, a productive agricultural sector, and a strong economy.

The Pollinator Health Strategy is multi-faceted, including:

  • a financial program, launched in September 2015, to assist beekeepers experiencing high levels of bee hive losses;
  • regulation limiting the use of neonicotinoid-treated seed; and
  • development of a comprehensive Pollinator Health Action Plan to address multiple stressors on pollinators.

In support of the government's priority outcome as a Leader on Environmental Sustainability & Climate Change Mitigation, the ministry is working with the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change to enhance environmental protection efforts through technical education and outreach and advisory services to assist Ontario's producers address climate change issues and manage our soil and water resources effectively.

OMAFRA is working with the sector to find ways to provide consumers with competitively priced food while managing the impacts of climate change. With stewardship initiatives such as the Environmental Farm Plan and the 4Rs Stewardship program (the right fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and in the right place), the ministry is continuously improving and adjusting management practices to be more effective in promoting soil health and in supporting a sustainable agriculture sector. OMAFRA is also protecting our natural water resources through both the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI) and Source Water Protection program.

Ministry Administration and Policy

OMAFRA continues to provide high quality customer services and deliver programs efficiently. In order to drive the success for rural Ontario, the ministry will ensure rural consideration is given in policy and programs across government and will develop key performance measures and metrics for rural Ontario to promote economic growth and opportunities to support a high quality of life for its residents.

In support of Ontario's Open Government strategy, OMAFRA has developed and launched a multi-year Open Government work plan that captures progressive goals and aligns with the province's broader strategy. The ministry's work plan includes key commitments under each of the three streams of Open Government: Open Dialogue, Open Data, and Open Information. Through the work plan OMAFRA will:

  • Share our data and continue to make informed, evidence-based decisions on policies, programs and services that impact the rural, agriculture and food sector.
  • Proactively share information with the public to raise awareness about what the ministry is doing to promote openness, transparency and public engagement.
  • Continue to engage in meaningful dialogue with the public to build effective policies and programs for the province's rural, agriculture and food systems.

In addition, OMAFRA will work to embed open government principles into the ministry's culture, processes and plans.

The ministry also provides strategic leadership, advice and facilitation to industry producers, processors and other value chain participants and works with the industry on regulatory changes to advance the sector.

Ministry Planned Expenditures 2016-17 ($M)
Operating 768
Capital 148
Total 916

 

Ministry Allocation of 2016-17 Base Spending

Ministry Allocation of 2016-17 Base Spending

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Highlights of 2015-16 Achievements

In 2015-16, OMAFRA was successful in achieving many positive outcomes for its priorities.

Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-Product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities

  • The Growth Steering Committee presented their seven recommendations at the Premier's Summit held in November 2015.
  • The ministry has been working to promote, encourage and invest in innovative local food projects through programs such as Foodland Ontario and Support for Direct Farm Marketing and Farmers' Markets, as well as celebrating innovation and success through the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program and the Foodland Ontario Retailer Awards.
  • OMAFRA successfully launched the Food and Beverage Growth Fund under the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to support the agri-food and agri-products sectors. In 2015, the government announced investments of $7.5 million in food processing projects, leveraging a total investment of $62.3 million and creating or preserving more than 715 jobs.
  • The Minister, along with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, led Ontario's first agri-food trade mission to China where they promoted trade opportunities with Ontario to more than 300 Chinese companies and officials. During the trade mission, $9 million in business deals were announced.
  • The Agriculture Insurance Act, 2015 was passed and received Royal Assent. The act was proclaimed on September 1, 2015, and will allow the province to offer production insurance plans for agricultural products beyond crops and perennial plants.
  • Through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, we have invested in infrastructure to build rural business success and contribute to economic growth. Under the Moving Ontario Forward Plan, funding for the Ontario Communities Infrastructure Fund will triple from $100 million to $300 million per year by 2018/19 to help small, rural and northern municipalities address critical infrastructure needs.

Better Public Health and Environment

  • In October 2015, at the ninth Open for Business consultation forum, participants reviewed and discussed a number of regulatory issues across the agri-food sector.
  • A government hosted Pollinator Health Forum was held in August 2015, bringing together targeted experts and stakeholders to discuss development of the Pollinator Health Action Plan.

Ministry Administration and Policy

  • The new Rural Roadmap for 2015: The Path Forward was released in December 2015 and identifies initiatives benefiting rural Ontario and sets the stage for an ongoing consultations and engagement with rural Ontarians.

For more details on these and other successes and, please see the annual report appended to this document.

Ministry Organization Chart

Ministry Organization Chart

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Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABCs)

OMAFRA's agencies perform a range of functions, from delivering Business Risk Management Programs, to supervising the province's 20 marketing boards and three representative commodity associations, to fulfilling other regulatory, operational, trust and advisory functions.

The ministry is responsible for the governance and oversight of 13 provincial agencies in accordance with the Agencies & Appointments Directive, 2015. The following is a list of the ministry's agencies, boards and commissions who are accountable to the Minister.

Consolidated Agencies

Agencies with assets, liabilities, revenues or expenses greater than $50 million, or an annual surplus or deficit or outside revenue source of greater than $10 million, are consolidated in OMAFRA's budget.

Agricorp

Type of agency: Board-governed/ Operational Enterprise

Constituting instrument: AgriCorp Act

Function:

Agricorp was created in 1997 with a mandate to deliver crop insurance and other agricultural business risk management programs. Agricorp currently delivers three core programs, AgriStability, Production Insurance and the suite of Risk Management Programs, as well as several smaller programs, such as Farm Business Registration.

Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO)

Type of agency: Board-governed/ Operational Service

Constituting instrument: Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario Act

Function:

ARIO provides strategic advice to the ministry regarding the direction of ministry funded research programs in the areas of agriculture, food, veterinary medicine and household science. In addition, ARIO owns and manages the province's agri-food research infrastructure, which is critical to the future success of Ontario's agri-food and rural sectors and a key component of overall provincial economic growth.

Financial Information for Consolidated Agencies ($M)

2016-17 Expenditure Estimates 2016-17 Revenue Estimates 2015-16 Expenditure Interim Actuals 2015-16 Revenue Interim Actuals 2014-15 Expenditure Actuals 2014-15 Revenue Actuals
Agricorp 142.87 176.56 151.52 182.30 93.90 143.03
ARIO 1.30 5.23 (0.67) 2.12 (6.02) 5.38

Non-Consolidated Agencies

Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Appeal Tribunal (AFRAAT)/Board of Negotiation (BON)

Type of agency: Non Board-governed/Adjudicative

Constituting instrument: Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act and Environmental Protection Act

Function:

AFRAAT hears and makes decisions on agriculture, food and rural affairs issues.

AFRAAT makes decisions related to the accreditation of farm organizations, exemptions for religious reasons from registration and/or paying the fee associated with joining an accredited farm organization; farmland classification for municipal taxation purposes; the technical and cost apportionment of projects under the Drainage Act; as well as disputes under the Crop Insurance Act, the Farm Products Marketing Act; the Farm Implements Act; the Agricultural Employees Protection Act; and various other statutes.

BON negotiates settlement in cases where contaminants cause damage to livestock, crops, trees or other vegetation. While the jurisdiction for requesting assistance from the BON falls with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change in legislation, the operation of the BON has been transferred to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

Normal Farm Practices Protection Board (NFPPB)

Type of agency: Non Board-governed/ Adjudicative

Constituting instrument: Farming and Food Production Protection Act

Function:

NFPPB reviews and resolves disputes respecting an agricultural operation, including the determination of what constitutes a normal farm practice, and makes the necessary inquiries and orders to ensure compliance with its decisions.

Grain Financial Protection Board (GFPB)/Livestock Financial Protection Board (LFPB)

Type of agency: Board-governed/Trust

Constituting instrument: Farm Products Payments Act

Function:

Under the Farm Products Payments Act, funds and boards are established to protect producers from non-payment by licensed buyers.

GFPB collects fees, administers a compensation fund and approves claims made against the fund. The fund was set up under the Grain Financial Protection Program to protect producers of grain corn, soybeans, wheat and canola in the event of defaults on payment by licensed buyers as well as to protect owners of grain who store their grain in licensed grain elevators.

LFPB collects fees, administers a compensation fund and approves claims made against the fund. The fund was set up under the Ontario Beef Cattle Financial Protection Program to protect producers and other sellers of beef cattle in the event of defaults on payment by licensed buyers.

Business Risk Management Review Committee (BRMRC)

Type of agency: Advisory

Constituting instrument: Order in Council

Function:

BRMRC has the authority to consider requests for reviews and make non-binding recommendations to the program administration for the following programs: AgriStability; Ontario's Risk Management Program; Ontario's Self-Directed Risk Management Program; and, any other program to which the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Minister assigns responsibility.

Livestock Medicines Advisory Committee (LMAC)

Type of agency: Advisory

Constituting instrument: Livestock Medicines Act

Function:

LMAC has a duty to review all legislation and regulations related to livestock medicines and their use, and advise the Minister on matters relating to their control and regulation. It evaluates and recommends procedures relating to their sale and the proper standards for livestock medicine maintenance, handling and storage. LMAC also makes recommendations respecting the description of drugs or classes of drugs for sale under a licence or any class of licence and make inquiries and report back to the Minister on any matter as referred.

Rural Economic Development Advisory Panel (REDAP)

Type of agency: Advisory

Constituting instrument: Order in Council

Function:

REDAP is responsible for providing recommendations to the Minister on applications for funding under the Rural Economic Development (RED) program, the Local Food Fund and any other program that the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Minister may assign.

Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC)

Type of agency: Non Board-governed/ Regulatory

Constituting instrument: Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act

Function:

OFPMC develops and implements regulated marketing policy. It administers the Farm Products Marketing Act and the Milk Act along with supervising Ontario's 20 marketing boards and three designated associations. The OFPMC provides leadership in the form of advice, facilitation and direction, as well as educational programs to these boards and associations to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the regulated marketing system.

Ontario Food Terminal Board (OFTB)

Type of agency: Board-governed/Operational Enterprise

Constituting instrument: Ontario Food Terminal Act

Function:

OFTB has a mandate to acquire, construct, equip and operate a wholesale fruit and produce market, and operate such facility for the distribution and handling of fruit and produce.

Detailed Financial Information

Operating and Capital Summary by Vote
Votes/
Programs
Estimates 2016-17 $ Change from Estimates 2015-16 $ % Estimates 2015-16 * $ Interim Actuals 2015-16 * $ Actuals 2014-15 * $
Operating Expense
Ministry Administration Program 22,902,300 - - 22,902,300 23,642,300 24,961,446
Better Public Health and Environment 90,770,000 3,700,000 4.2 87,070,000 79,626,700 76,962,148
Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities 481,253,300 (31,455,800) (6.1) 512,709,100 485,934,800 435,569,903
Policy Development 15,944,200 - - 15,944,200 16,242,900 15,522,464
Total Operating Expense to be Voted 610,869,800 (27,755,800) (4.3) 638,625,600 605,446,700 553,015,961
Statutory Appropriations 2,096,014 - - 2,096,014 405,800 680,018
Ministry Total Operating Expense 612,965,814 (27,755,800) (4.3) 640,721,614 605,852,500 553,695,979
Consolidation Adjustment - Agricorp 141,983,200 (1,563,300) (1.1) 143,546,500 150,687,700 92,369,567
Consolidation Adjustment - Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) 13,063,500 6,645,500 103.5 6,418,000 11,572,400 6,519,335
Consolidation Adjustment - Ontario Racing Commission - (5,927,500) (100.0) 5,927,500 9,162,300 5,275,000
Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments 768,012,514 (28,601,100) (3.6) 796,613,614 777,274,900 657,859,881
Operating Assets
Ministry Administration Program 300,000 - - 300,000 N/A -
Better Public Health and Environment 12,300,000 - - 12,300,000 N/A 3,149,000
Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities 305,000 - - 305,000 N/A -
Total Operating Assets to be Voted 12,905,000 - - 12,905,000 N/A 3,149,000
Ministry Total Operating Assets 12,905,000 - - 12,905,000 N/A 3,149,000

 

Votes/
Programs
Estimates 2016-17 $ Change from Estimates 2015-16 $ % Estimates 2015-16 * $ Interim Actuals 2015-16 * $ Actuals 2014-15 * $
Capital Expense
Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities 158,782,600 (17,000) (0.0) 158,799,600 198,479,700 199,725,454
Total Capital Expense to be Voted 158,782,600 (17,000) (0.0) 158,799,600 198,479,700 199,725,454
Ministry Total Capital Expense 158,782,600 (17,000) (0.0) 158,799,600 198,479,700 199,725,454
Consolidation Adjustment - Agricorp 888,500 134,700 17.9 753,800 829,300 1,528,000
Consolidation Adjustment - Agricultural Research Institute of Ontario (ARIO) (11,765,300) (553,300) (4.9) (11,212,000) (12,240,300) (12,542,809)
Consolidation Adjustment - Ontario Racing Commission - (70,000) (100.0) 70,000 73,700 75,000
Total Including Consolidation & Other Adjustments 147,905,800 (505,600) (0.3) 148,411,400 187,142,400 188,785,645
Ministry Total Operating and Capital Including Consolidation and Other Adjustments (not including Assets) 915,918,314 (29,106,700) (3.1) 945,025,014 964,417,300 846,645,526

* Estimates, Interim Actuals and Actuals for prior fiscal years are re-stated to reflect any changes in ministry organization and/or program structure. Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the 2016 Ontario Budget.

For additional financial information, see:

Appendix: 2015-16 Annual Report

2015-16 Achievements

OMAFRA's mandate supports five priorities: Supporting the Growth of the Agri-Food Sector; Ensuring Sustainability of Agriculture; Providing Business Supports to Farmers; Expanding Agriculture in the North; and Fostering Vibrant Rural Economies. The ministry delivered many positive outcomes in 2015-16 toward these goals.

Strong Agriculture, Food and Bio-Product Sectors and Strong Rural Communities
  • A Growth Steering Committee, comprised of industry and government leaders was established for 2014-15 to advise the Minister on the development of a system that measures growth in the province's agri-food industry and actions that can be taken by government, industry and partners to create short and longer-term strategic growth opportunities. The committee presented seven recommendations at the Premier's Summit held in November 2015. The recommendations focused on the following key areas:
    • Building sub-sector measurement systems and creating indicators that measure progress towards increasing the competitiveness of the sector;
    • Increased government and industry promotion of Ontario's agri-food sector at home and abroad;
    • Stronger advocacy of Ontario's food processing sector, particularly at the federal level; and
    • A focus on medium-sized agri-food businesses to enhance competitiveness.
  • The ministry has been working to promote, encourage and invest in innovative local food projects including:
    • Announcing in October 2015, that Ontario is providing $6 million over three years, through the Greenbelt Fund, to increase sales of local food by making it more widely available and building awareness of the variety of food grown and produced in Ontario; and
    • Investing $21 million in more than 150 Local Food Fund projects, leveraging an investment of more than $98 million.
  • The Local Food Fund is ending as scheduled, after three years. It was one part of a broader local food strategy to increase demand for local food, support good jobs, attract investment, and help the agri-food industry make an even greater contribution to Ontario's economic success.

    OMAFRA continues to support local food through other initiatives and programs, including:
    • Foodland Ontario;
    • Support for Direct Farm Marketing and Farmers' Markets;
    • Agri-food Education;
    • Local Food Procurement Policy that requires ministries and agencies to consider purchasing local food for procurements less than $25,000; and
    • Celebrating innovation and success through the Premier's Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence program and the Foodland Ontario Retailer Awards.
  • In February 2016, the Ontario government proclaimed the latest aspirational goal area under the Local Food Act, which kicked off a stakeholder engagement process to add aspirational local food goals for local food access to the existing goals around food literacy.
  • The ministry has identified and acted on opportunities to support the food processing industry and to help farmers enhance their operations:
    • OMAFRA successfully launched the first year of the Food and Beverage Growth Fund under the Jobs and Prosperity Fund to support the agri-food and agri-products sectors. In 2015, the government announced investments of $7.5 million in food processing projects, leveraging a total investment of $62.3 million and creating or preserving more than 715 jobs;
    • The Ontario government continues to support the growth and success of Ontario's wine and grape industry with its commitment of up to $75 million over five years for a renewed Wine and Grape Strategy;
    • In 2015-16, $13 million was invested in two programs to support vineyard improvements, research, innovation and productivity and to increase marketing and sale of VQA wines. In 2016-17 $15 million is committed for these programs;
    • The VQA wine sales at farmers' markets initiative is part of the overall renewed Wine and Grape Strategy. To date, 84 wineries and 215 farmers' markets have participated and sales have surpassed $1.4 million; and
    • In April, the Minister, along with the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade, led Ontario's first agri-food trade mission to China where they promoted trade opportunities with Ontario to more than 300 Chinese companies and officials. During the trade mission, $9 million in business deals were announced.
  • The ministry continued to work with other ministries to support the growth of manufacturing and the digital economy in rural Ontario.
    • The Quinte Economic Development Commission will receive up to $414,000 through the Rural Economic Development program to help grow the region's manufacturing sector; and
    • Connectivity and broadband is an eligible category under the Small Communities Fund, which will fund priority infrastructure projects, including broadband infrastructure in rural Ontario.
  • In May 2015, the Agriculture Insurance Act, 2015 was passed and received Royal Assent. The act was proclaimed on September 1, 2015, and will allow the province to offer production insurance plans for agricultural products beyond crops and perennial plants. For example, a Bee Mortality Production Insurance Plan was launched in September 2015. The ministry is working with other sub-sectors to explore opportunities to offer production insurance for their commodities as well.
  • Through the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund, we have invested in infrastructure to build rural business success and contribute to economic growth.

    The government of Ontario is making public infrastructure investments of more than $137 billion over the next 10 years, resulting in about $160 billion over 12 years, starting in 2014-15. About $31.5 billion will be made available through Ontario's Moving Ontario Forward plan, $15 billion of which will target projects outside of the GTHA. Under the Moving Ontario Forward Plan, funding for the Ontario Communities Infrastructure Fund will triple from $100 million to $300 million per year by 2018/19 to help small, rural and northern municipalities address critical infrastructure needs. This reflects feedback received during last summer's Moving Ontario Forward consultations. We are also working with MEDEI and ENERGY to develop the $200 million Natural Gas Access Loan Program and the $30 million Natural Gas Economic Development Grant. These programs will help rural communities partner with utilities to gain access to natural gas.
  • The government's five-year Horse Racing Partnership Plan (HRPP) to support a sustainable industry came into effect on April 1, 2014. In 2015, HRPP supported 944 race dates. Along with the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of the Attorney General, OMAFRA is working to fully integrate horse racing into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to ensure its long-term success here in Ontario.
  • The Growth Plan for Northern Ontario identifies the agriculture, aquaculture and food processing sector as one of eleven existing and emerging priority economic sectors in Northern Ontario. Through programs such as Growing Forward 2, the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund, and the Trillium Fund, the Province continues to invest in the agriculture, aquaculture and food processing sector in Northern Ontario. The ministry also continues to work with the sector to identify opportunities for growth.
Better Public Health and Environment
  • To preserve the productive capacity of agricultural land, OMAFRA is working with key stakeholders to develop an Agriculture Soils Strategy.
  • In October 2015, at the ninth Open for Business consultation forum, participants reviewed and discussed a number of regulatory issues across the agri-food sector.
  • The ministry was involved in discussions under the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (GLWQA), under which Canada and the United States committed to having phosphorus Domestic Action Plans in place for Lake Erie by 2018.
  • In February 2015, the ministry launched the Great Lakes Agricultural Stewardship Initiative (GLASI), committing $16 million in Growing Forward 2 funding over four years (2014-18) targeted to the Lake Erie basin and southeast shores of Lake Huron. This supports reducing excess nutrients from agricultural lands by encouraging implementation of soil health best management practices.
  • In September 2015, the Ministry signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with Fertilizer Canada and the Ontario Agri Business Association to support an industry-led effort to develop an Ontario 4R Nutrient Stewardship program.
  • Through this, educational programs will be developed for farmers to learn about nutrient management based on the internationally-recognized 4R Nutrient Stewardship system. The 4R system promotes efficient fertilizer application to improve profitability while reducing nutrient losses. The 4Rs refer to the right fertilizer at the right rate, the right time and in the right place.
  • OMAFRA has been working with other ministries to deliver Ontario's broader Pollinator Health Strategy to strengthen our province's managed bee and wild pollinator populations.
  • As part of the strategy, OMAFRA is leading the development of a Pollinator Health Action Plan (PHAP). A government-hosted Pollinator Health Forum was held in August 2015, bringing together targeted experts and stakeholders to discuss development of the plan. The resulting draft PHAP was posted for public comment in spring 2016 and garnered more than 5,000 responses. A final Pollinator Health Action Plan is expected to be released by summer 2016.
  • OMAFRA also supported the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change in the changes made to O. Reg. 63/09 under the Pesticides Act to address the sale, purchase and use of grain corn and soybean seed treated with neonicotinoid insecticides. These new regulatory requirements began to take effect on July 1, 2015. The new requirements support the province's target to reduce the number of acres planted with neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seed by 80 per cent by 2017 and are focused on ensuring that neonicotinoid-treated corn and soybean seeds are used only when there is a demonstrated pest problem.
  • OMAFRA made changes to the Produce, Honey and Maple Products Regulation (O. Reg. 119/11) under the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 to strengthen food safety and the traceability of maple products and to address consumer protection by updating maple syrup grading requirements.
  • OMAFRA is working with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry on a coordinated review of the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe Area, the Greenbelt Plan, the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan and the Niagara Escarpment Plan. The review of these key provincial land use plans offers an opportunity to strengthen the protection of farmland and support the viability of farm operations in this fast growing area of the province. This work is in addition to the on-going support that OMAFRA provides to MMAH as part of the provincial One Window Planning system including the development of guidance material to support municipal implementation of the Provincial Policy Statement.
  • This past year, OMAFRA's Meat Inspection Program (MIP) worked with meat plant operators, the Muslim Association of Canada and ISNA Canada to raise awareness of and compliance to provincial regulations for Eid-al-Adha (Eid) at licensed meat plants across Ontario by developing new communication materials. Regulations are in place to protect animal welfare and food safety so that meat slaughtered for religious purposes is safe for families to enjoy for Eid celebrations. The efforts to develop proactive communications materials allowed MIP to support inspectors, provide additional tips to operators on delivering their services, and advise the broader community on how provincial slaughter services is delivered to meet regulatory requirements.  Eid is one of MIP's busiest times during the year and sees a threefold increase in slaughter activity and significant redeployment of inspectors from across the province to meet the need of operators and the community.
Ministry Administration and Policy
  • In an effort to provide high quality customer services and deliver programs efficiently, the ministry completed a review of Growing Forward 2.
  • Under the Agencies & Appointments Directive, ministries are required to review the mandates of each of their agencies at least once every seven years. OMAFRA initiated the reviews for six agencies in 2015-16 and have fully completed the review for two agencies. This work with continue in 2016-17.
  • In April 2014, the Ontario government released its Rural Roadmap: The Path Forward for Ontario. It represented a summary of conversations from a broad cross-section of rural Ontarians. The new Rural Roadmap for 2015: The Path Forward was released in December 2015 and provides an update on OMAFRA's progress. It identifies initiatives benefiting rural Ontario and sets the stage for an ongoing consultations and engagement with rural Ontarians. It also outlines the tools, resources and initiatives that the ministry has implemented to support success in rural communities across the province.
  • In support of Ontario's Open Government strategy, OMAFRA has developed and launched a multi-year Open Government work plan that captures progressive goals and aligns with the province's broader strategy. The ministry's work plan includes key commitments under each of the three streams of Open Government: Open Dialogue, Open Data, and Open Information. To date, the ministry has contributed to Open Government achievements including:
    • Conducting a client-focused engagement for the Research and Technology Review to assess industry research and information needs required for economic success now and in the future;
    • Contributing 14 datasets to the government's Open Data Catalogue and working to open up an additional 66 datasets;
    • Launching a Public Search Tool to give the public on-demand access to information about research results.
  • OMAFRA will continue to build on its Open Government successes to date and will work to transform how we work and engage the people we serve to make an impact for Ontarians who rely on our services each and every day.
Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures 2015-16
  Ministry Interim Actual Expenditures ($M) 2015-16 *
Operating
777
Capital
187
Staff Strength  **(as of March 31, 2016)
896.81

* Interim actuals reflect the numbers presented in the 2016 Ontario Budget.

** Ontario Public Service Full-Time Equivalent positions.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
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