Wynne Speaks On Horse Racing

Published: February 15, 2013 09:20 am EST

Kathleen Wynne officially addressed the province's horse racing industry in her capacity as Ontario's Premier on Thursday.

During a conference call with reporters, Wynne spoke about racing, casinos and her dual role as Premier and Minister of Agriculture.

“My vision of the horse racing industry is that it would be sustainable and that in order for it to be sustainable it has to be smaller, so I think that's the transition we need to make right now,” she said. “But we need to be conscious that we need to keep this industry in shape going forward.”

Premier Wynne also noted that while she has yet to meet with the horse racing industry transition panel, she plans to do so in the near future.

Wynne also addressed the OLG modernization strategy, stating that the province needs to remove itself from casino expansion talk and allow municipalities to decide.

“It's a contentious issue,” said Wynne. “Differences of opinion are evident in governments and in communities, and that's what makes it contentious...My position on casinos is we're going to allow municipalities — within the provincial framework — to decide whether or not they want a casino and where it will be located. We'll be very clear that all the rules will have to be followed in terms of zoning and other decisions.”

Those rules include zoning issues like the ones that were brought up during Flamboro's lively city council debate, where the nod was given to allow for casino expansion at Flamboro Downs if the site is viable. Due to Greenbelt Act protection, the Flamboro site is not fully zoned for expansion into a large multi-purpose entertainment complex.

Wynne also stated she's confident that she can handle the agriculture portfolio while also serving as Premier.

“We need to make it a competitive industry in Ontario,” said Wynne of the agriculture sector. “I see it as my general role as premier that we work on the creation of jobs.”

According to a recent Abacus Data Poll, Ontarians agree with the focus on job creation.

“Ontarians identified jobs, the economy, and health care as the top three issues facing the province,” said David Coletto, CEO of Abacus Data after results of recent a poll were published Thursday. “We heard a lot about the economy during the Liberal leadership race and I suspect you will hear a lot about that in the coming Throne Speech.”

The Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC), who launched a a campaign in January to defend the jobs of workers employed at Georgian Downs racetrack in Innisfil, says Ontarians can expect to see more layoffs - like the more than 100 Woodbine Entertainment Group employees that were let go earlier this week - unless the government changes course.

"Premier Wynne has to act now to protect the good paying jobs Ontario's horse racing industry sustains. It is clear across the province that racetracks are not going to be able to maintain their current staffing levels if the government replaces the Slots at Racetracks Program with lease agreements, as has been agreed to at more than 10 tracks," said DeSousa.

NDP Labour Critic and Essex MPP Taras Natyshak says the layoffs at Woodbine and Mohawk racetracks demonstrate how inadequate government transition plans were following the end of the Slots At Racetracks Program.

“Once again, we’re reminded just how short sighted the SARP cancellation really was,” said Natyshak. “By pulling the rug out from under the folks at Woodbine, the government has dealt a serious blow to a historic entertainment venue, and cost many hard working Ontarians their jobs.”

“The Slots At Racetrack Program was a great investment for Ontario,” said Natyshak. “In addition to directing millions of dollars into public coffers, it fostered a vibrant, healthy horse racing industry. By cancelling the program, not only is the government walking away from a sustainable revenue stream – they are turning their back on thousands of hard working Ontarians.

During Thursday's casino debate in Hamilton, councillors raised an interesting OLG statistic with respect to job creation in that small business generated twice as many jobs as an OLG casino with the same amount of revenue.

Research indicates reduced revenues (and therefore job losses) for retail, restaurant, and other entertainment functions. This is called “the displacement effect”. (From OLG published info – it appears that, in Gananoque, the casino creates one job for each $220,000 of gross revenues. Many smaller businesses can create a job with as little as $100,000 of gross revenues – so it is likely that the net effect is job losses.)

The Abacus Data Poll showed that 40% of Ontarians agreed that Kathleen Wynne should call an election to get a mandate from Ontarians while 38% percent disagreed that an election should be called. Twenty-one per cent were unsure.



I wish it was not so but sadly it is! Dianne Lord is exactly right!!

A universally respected man Mr Robert Morley has recommended meeting Tuesday Feb 19th at Mohawk Raceway, then proceed to the 401 and blockade the Highway both ways!

I have suggested following the "textbook" of the First Nations when it comes to Blockades and Demonstrations. Hold your babies in your arms as it is their future as well as your own. The police won't dare beat them, and alert the press. I will be there and sadly I think I will be alone!!

MGM Grand and Stanley Ho

Perhaps the Ont government should consult with the Federal government before we welcome American based casino operators with open arms.

Ho was also named by the Canadian Government, citing the Manila Standard newspaper, as having a link to the Kung Lok Triad (Chinese mafia) and as being linked to 'several illegal activities' during the period 1999–2002. Ho's ties to Chinese organized crime have also been reported by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, citing a U.S. Senate committee and several government agencies, when the state investigated his ties to American casino operator MGM Mirage.

I said it once before and I'll say it once again. Wynne is just a clone to McGuinty and Duncan who couldn't take the heat for their actions and incompetence and now she's carrying the ball. How can anyone trust a political party that would destroy an entire industry and jeopardize 55,000 jobs in the process. The only solution is an election and let's get these corrupt political thieves out of office and out of power.

Maybe the horse racing industry should hire the "QUEBEC STUDENTS" to do the demonstrating for them. I hear that on February 25,2013, a major demonstration , and I mean, MAJOR, is planned for downtown Montreal.NO!! not by the horse people of Quebec, but by the students. WOW!!! AGAIN!!! This will, once again, cause major disruption in the downtown core. Boy!!! These students are fighters. That being said,... not much demonstration in Ontario. Very quiet for the past, maybe,3 years?, Nothing but talk on the SC website day in and out, just talk,talk, talk,... Maybe will wait for the provincial conservative's to help the horse industry. Hope they win in the next provincial elections. But what would happen if they don't win??? OMG!!! Win or lose, the horse racing industry, as of March 31st 2013, will be changed. Like it or not, the glory days, (purse $$$$$,) for the racing industry in Ontario are gone. Thanks to the wonderful, 55,000 thousand so called horse people of Ontario who has done nothing but talk for the past 3 years. No fight whatsoever. No leadership whatsoever. No major demonstration whatsoever. NOTHING!!! And your all blaming the Liberals???? Blame yourselves for doing NOTHING!!!!

Let me start by saying over the last year ive listen to comments, interviews, statements from politicians etc. etc. about this contraversial subject in Ontario. At present, with the slots at racetracks program and racing partnership with OLG, the government receives a large sum of money to support activities in ontario that they say are being taken from like healthcare, our schools etc. etc.. However where is all this revenue generated going, if its not funding healthcare projects and programs for our childrens schooling etc.etc..
As far as i see it, replacing something thats good. And replacing it with new casinos in various zones, as they call it, throughout Ontario is a big waste of money none the less mindless. Take Toronto, they are allowing The Sands and MGM, american own casinos to bid on the project. Where do they think the canadian dollars spent in these new casinos is going to go. Thats right, across the boarder. Taking nothing away from our relationship with the americans especially in the racing industry,but our own should be our own. Right now the horses (OSSProgram), the people employed at the slots, the people the look after the track, the people in the race office etc. etc., work, eat and sleep Ontario. They are Canadians.
AS far as im concern, its millions of dollars to build new casinos, for no more gain in the long run than what we already have in place. If its full fledge casinos they want, then allow slots, cards, everything at the casinos in place now with the horse races, motels, play areas for the kids etc. etc.. Make it a full entertainment package for the whole family. Plus if the slots at racetracks program ends next month where is the government going to get the revenue from they receive each month from this program, while the new casinos being allocated and built. Is it all going to end on that exact date?

In reply to by billyp

If they have to screw harness racing at least let Canadians make the money and have the money kept in Canada. I really don't know why we have to turn to American companies to run our casinos. Seriously it is pretty sad if we can't find qualified Canadians.

Tracks need to shut down the slots! We also need an election to get the Liberals out of office. It's plain to see that someone has a vendetta against the Horse Industry. I'm sick of all the delays.

More of the same just now McGuinty & Duncan have a higher pitch in her voice. This Liberal Gov't really is having no trouble killing the horse industry only to see us replaced by foriegn owned casinos. We cannot prove more certainly that slots at race tracks put more money into municipalities than the two OLG casinos in Niagra- 1 horsetrack 4 million. 2 OLG Casinos 3 million to the municipality.
Do not look for common sense this Premier has no more than the last Premier. But don't get me wrong they are smart Liberals they got out with a severance package, a healthy pension locked into place, and most likely a corporate board position with the OLG or another form of foriegn interest corporation such as Ceasars. I'm convinced that the Liberals are all crooks and only in this for personal gain, they will lose the next election and McGuinty,Duncan,Bently and the others would not be entitled to any severance package - this is crooked.
We need action, picketing, law suits,shut down their slots, if race track owner do not back our play they will not back us as landlords for OLG rents.

Premier Wynne your vision regarding the horse racing industry of being smaller but sustainable is very similar to what rural Ontario envisions for the Liberal party in Ontario. I was awaiting your first public comment regarding horse racing and unfortunately you appear to be no more enlightened than your predecessor. I talk to a wide cross section of people in the horse racing industry and in the last week the only two people I can find who have had anything positive to say about the future of horse racing in Ontario are Wendy fron the ORC and Mr Snobelen from the transition panel. So for what its worth heres my conclusion "If you have nothing invested in the industry and your government cheque is arriving in your bank account on abiweekly basis then the future looks very bright." I am in the investment business and I told a friend yesterday that I was very positive about the outlook for Mongolian steel companies and he asked me what the heck do I know about Mongolian steel companies and I said nothing but giving an opinion without doing any research seems to land you a high paying government job in Ontario.

I am having a hard time deciding which is worse the Liberal Party Leadership or Harness Racing Leadership!!

I feel that downsizing the industry has already been done . We now have 3 less racetracks in Ontario, Windsor, Sarnia and Fort Erie and because of this there has already been well over one thousand jobs lost. Why would anyone in their right mind want to downsize an industry that is making over one billion dollars annually .Kathy is correct when she said that the panels report was created under false circumstances.They had McGuinty and Duncan to answer to. Katherine has the general public to listen and answer to and so far she is not listening . The Liberals and the American casino owners want no part of SAR . They will allow the tracks to keep their slots for the mean time but will make it almost impossible to hold live racing and make it impossible to make a living racing unless you can race exclusively at Weg tracks. After the 2 year agreement with Weg is up and the public heres about the SUBSIDY again( now it really is one ) they will have their excuse to annihilate the industry for good. They could support the industry with the taxes that they are going to loose when half of us are no longer contributing members of society and swelling up the unemployment and welfare lines. We need an election and we need it fast.

In reply to by peggy-p

I have not heard that Sarnia is officially closed. Last I heard we had one more year guaranteed of harness racing. This came from the owner himself.

I read standardbred canada everyday to see what is happening, everyone likes to talk. I have personally tried to get a rally going with the horse people to hop in their trucks and trailers with their horses and have a convoy down the highway at very slow speeds. This will get the attention of the media and the olg and the Liberals who clearly don't give a crap about Horse Racing the people losing their jobs and the slaughter of horses. I have emailed people emailed the Liberals and even emailed radio and tv stations. Guess what no replays. I think we really should stop blamming everyone else and put the blame on US for we have done nothing to stop this. When other industries want to be heard they do it. Picket, media and inconveiniance certain sites of couse within the law. People stop talking and do something for I have basically given up. I will really miss the sport as well as all the people I have met though the years.

In reply to by jftech

John I could not agree more. Just yesterday I went down to see Justin Trudeau. Who by the way when I asked him what he thought of the ONT prov.Gov. gutting the horse racing industry. His reply was it is a prov. matter. When I asked him about the 55,000 people that will be unemployed and is that not Federal. He said he did not really know that much about it. He was from Quebec he told me. I asked him if he remembered what happened to the racing industry in Quebec, he told me he was absolutely against any form of gambling. So I said then it must not sit well with you that Ont has plans for 29 casinos he replied that was again Prov. Thanked me for my concern and left to get his picture taken. Any way my point to the story is as I left out of the parking lot I noticed a sun news mobile truck. The guy was standing there trying to get a feed going. So I asked him if I could bend his ear for a minute he said sure. I told him that I was in the racing industry. Oh he said. I asked why is the media not covering anything relating to what is happening to our industry. He said if you guys would go and shut down casinos with our trucks and trailers, he said we would cover that, he told me that there is a web site you can go on it will tell you where all the MPP's are going to be. Pick a slow day have a group show up they would probably do a story. So sitting back doing nothing gets you nothing but if you are willing to give up some your time it might get you something. It’s worth a try.Ronda Markle

In reply to by jftech

I agree with your post Mr. Fallone. I can't believe we haven't seen anything extreme yet in terms of shutting down casinos or bingos that are going to be hurting harness racing.

Did anybody really think that she would say anything diffrent than those she took over from..........she was also in the cabinet when they decided to cancel the gas fired plants just before the election..........give your heads a good shake.......it is time we started blocking the entrance to the slots and showing them where it hurts them the most.... in the pocket book. Disd anybody else read that the 2 casinos in Niagra falls bring the city 3 Mil in revenue and 1 slot parlor @ Flamboro brings in 4 mil???? Does anyone in Govt do the math????

Who gets to arbitrarily decide that the industry should be significantly smaller. And how do they come up with a viable size. At 800 days don't kid yourself we couldn't possibly have a world class viable product. It would eventually lead to a not so slow painful death. Let's be honest , isn't that what the government, casino, and olg interests really want? It's been their mission since dropping the bomb last year. The latest news should be classified as humoring us.

I don't think we have anymore time. Should start legal process NOW. They are still stalling till Mar.31. And Dave, I don't recall anyone on this site supporting then liberals. I know I sure never did through this whole process.

If Ontario horsepeople don't take a stand soon, they'll be left with nothing. What gets attention in our society is a major spectacle, not writing letters and making phone calls to people who have nothing at stake.

Just more of the same---"Blah, blah, blah".

In reply to by Lynne Magee

That's an interesting comment coming from a Premier whom just increased her cabinet by 27% at taxpayers expense. Make no mistake, this is not a modernization plan but a PRIVATIZATION plan that the Libs are trying to pass under the radar of Ontarian's.

Smaller is the vision WITHOUT any input from the Transition Panel or our Industry??? No change in the plan to destroy racing** We need an election*

For all of you in the industry who were giving me a lot of grief for my position on this issue as it involved the Liberal government and their candidates how are you feeling now? The new Premier has basically said status quo, the modernization plan will go ahead, transitional help for a downsized version of horse racing is what your getting. Nothing has change Ontario horse racing as far as this newly unelected Premier is concerned you are S O L.

Kathleen Wynne is making decisions based on the OMAFRA Transition Panel's report. We all know that while the panel worked very hard on this report and did a thorough consultation with the industry, their hands were tied by the Liberals in power last summer. McGuinty and Duncan laid down the ground rules which included absolutely no SARP, effectively limiting the options the panel could recommend. Don Drummond's report recommended looking at the SARP to evaluate it's effectiveness, not ending it altogether. We can all admit that some changes were necessary. Kathleen Wynne needs to me made aware that basing her decisions on this biased report is not in the best interest of the province or the horse racing industry.

And speaking of the Duncan report, why do I see 2 casinos in Niagara and 2 OLG head offices. Only one recomenation was followed and it was not followed in the context. Review not cancel.

Perhaps it is the government and OLG that needs to be downsized. That would certainly help with the deficit.

Someone WAKE up the OLG and Liberal Gov't..Casino's DO NOT WORK!!!
Take a look at what just happened south of the boarder. Trump Plaza Casino in Atlantic City sold for $20 million dollars 2/15/2013- yes $20 million(Fire Sale)!!!!
Need I say more.

We all know that talk is cheap for politicians but very expensive for the horse industry. Time is no longer a luxury we can afford.

Anyone in a position like a Premier of a Province or a CEO of a Corporation that wants a sustainable product by making it smaller needs to be fired. I think even Paul Godfrey would agree.
This is nonsense and time is ticking.

So what Wynne said basically is screw the racing industry, where they get the idea the racing industry needs downsizing is beyond me.
We had a healthy vibrant industry that was the envy of the world until Wynne & the UNELECTED PUBLIC TROUGH WALLOWING GODFREY GOT INVOLVED.

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