Additional Funding For Ontario Horse Racing

Published: March 21, 2019 09:30 am EDT

The Province of Ontario and Ontario Lottery & Gaming (OLG) announced on Thursday (March 21) that they will now provide $10 million in annual funding to Ontario's existing Horse Improvement Program.

The announcement was made at Georgian Downs in Innisfil, Ont. on Thursday (March 20) by Minister of Finance Vic Fedeli and Stephen Rigby, OLG’s President and CEO.

The release from the Province of Ontario appears below.

Ontario's Government is putting people first by supporting rural communities through new investments to help the province's horse racing industry create and protect good jobs.

The government will provide $10 million per year to support programs for breeders and horsepeople through the Horse Improvement Program (HIP). This will support breeding and industry development for Ontario-bred horses and will be administered by Ontario Racing, replacing the Enhanced Horse Improvement Program previously administered by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

"Our horse racing sector plays a vital role in our rural communities and is an important part of Ontario's heritage. This investment will help support Ontario's breeders and horsepeople, and ensure the province's horse racing community is open for business, and can create and protect jobs," said Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance.

The government has also worked with its industry partners to reach agreements on packages through the Optional Slots at Racetracks Program (OSARP) that includes operational funding for eligible racetracks. These packages are designed to directly support the horse racing industry and rural communities.

In addition to this funding through OSARP, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) will provide financial support to the sector through the long-term funding agreement, beginning April 1, 2019. The agreement includes funding for racetrack operations and purse support of up to $105 million per year for up to 19 years.

"Our government is committed to providing stable long-term support to help the horse racing industry build a more sustainable future for the rural businesses, jobs and communities that depend on it. This is a vital part of Ontario's heritage and our government is proud to stand behind our rural communities that rely on this industry," concluded Fedeli.

The Province of Ontario has also assembled a ‘backgrounder’ to its March 21, 2019 announcement. To read the backgrounder, click here. The announcement from the Province of Ontario also contained quotes from OLG President and CEO Stephen Rigby, Ontario Racing Independent Chair John Hayes, Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association President Walter Parkinson, and Grand River Raceway Director of Operations Jamie Martin, among others.

“OLG is providing nearly two decades of funding to ensure racetracks, breeders and horsepeople have the confidence they need to guide the future of the industry,” said Rigby. “This support will help promote long-term, responsible management of the horse racing industry in the province.”

“The amended long-term funding agreement demonstrates how committed this government is to the citizens of rural communities across Ontario and respects the economic development horse racing generates in the province,” said Hayes. “The added support will provide racetrack operators, breeders, owners, trainers, caretakers, grooms and others who dedicate their lives to the sport a level of confidence in the long-term sustainability of the industry.”

“This announcement gives breeders the confidence they need to make business decisions that will ensure the health of our industry for years to come,” said Parkinson

“The amended long-term funding agreement gives our industry the foundation we need to work together to make decisions about what’s best for the future of our industry,” said Martin.

Rigby released the following statement on new funding support for horse racing in Ontario.

"The Ontario government has announced additional funding for the horse racing industry that will help more racetracks, breeders and horsepeople access support.

"Under an amended Long-Term Funding Agreement (LTFA), OLG will contribute $10 million annually to support programs for breeders and horsepeople. The LTFA also solidifies agreements with racetracks that have chosen to receive funding to support operations under the Optional Slots at Racetracks Program.

"Beginning April 1, 2019, OLG will provide nearly two decades of stable funding to help build a sustainable industry in the province. It is a comprehensive package of support that was designed to reach all areas of the industry and reaffirms OLG’s commitment to invest in a sector of Ontario’s gaming marketplace that provides a great deal of value to the province.

"The Agreement includes mechanisms for greater reporting, accountability and transparency, and will encourage the industry to work collaboratively on self-governance.

"Strengthening Ontario’s horse racing industry will help protect thousands of jobs and provide economic benefit to rural communities across the province."

(with files from the Province of Ontario / OLG)

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