Removal Of SAR Program 'Threatens Ontario Economy'
Published: June 8, 2012 5:20 pm ET
Last Comment: June 9, 2012 11:20 am ET | 1 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments
In an open letter, the Ontario Equestrian Federation has reiterated its widely-held position that the loss of slot machine revenue at Ontario’s racetracks threatens the provincial economy.
The open letter has reiterated the OEF's position in hopes that the Dalton McGuinty-led Ontario Liberal Government will come to its collective senses and comprehend the realistic viewpoint that the Ontario horse-racing industry has been preaching for months.
The contents of the letter appear below.
Ontario has a breeding and racing program that has become one of the most successful and envied in the world, but it’s an industry on the verge of a crisis with the potential to affect every person who calls Ontario home.
“It would be a fallacy to consider this an issue relegated solely to the backstretch of Ontario’s racetracks,” says Dianne Graham, the executive director of the Ontario Equestrian Federation. “The OLG Slots at the Racetrack Program has not been a subsidy program --- a common misconception. It is a payment for services rendered and has resulted in the stimulation and successful rebirth of many of Ontario’s rural communities.”
Until now, that revenue sharing partnership has greatly benefited the province of Ontario. Racing in this province supports 60,000 jobs, with many of these positions situated in rural settings where the possibility of obtaining similar employment would be unlikely.
“To put that employment number in perspective, this represents more than three times the seating capacity of the Air Canada Centre,” says Graham. “If racing and its revenue sharing programs cease to exist, where will these tax-contributing families and the vibrant rural communities they support be once the dust settles?”
The racing industry cites a contribution of over $2 billion to Ontario’s economy each year through wages and salaries, including but not limited to those of veterinarians, farriers, bedding suppliers, feed mills, equine shipping companies, tack stores and stable supply companies. However, there are many whose income is not attributed to this estimate. Local businesses such as restaurants, gas bars, barn builders and trailer manufacturers will also experience an immense financial shock. The trickle down effect is incalculable.
Investment in the racing industry does not stop at the track. Horse racing has provided equestrian sport with funding benefits and services. These include innumerable benevolent programs such as therapeutic riding and equine welfare initiatives. Educational initiatives such as Equine Guelph and EquiMania! a world-class children’s program, have been recipients of over $100,000 a year and depend on this support to continue their work. In 2011, the Equine Guelph research program received $345,000 from the racing industry. Additionally, it is racing that is responsible for funding the multi-million dollar facility expansions at the University of Guelph’s veterinary college and the multitude of private veterinarian clinics in Ontario.
“What has taken lifetimes to develop and cultivate will be decimated by this government’s lack of knowledge regarding the issue at hand and the impact it will have,” says Graham. “My Ontario includes horse racing.”
(Ontario Equestrian Federation)