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Party Platforms For Racing: Liberals

Published: June 9, 2014 9:45 am ET

Last Comment: June 10, 2014 8:03 am ET | 12 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Two weeks ago, Standardbred Canada sent a list of questions to Ontario's three main party leaders. Those questions were designed to give each party the chance to directly address the province's horse racing industry after two-plus years of uncertainty.

Trot Insider will be posting the responses received from each party leading up to the June 12 election.

The third response to the questions sent comes from the Ontario Liberal Party.

Questions for Ontario's Leadership Candidates and Response From The Ontario Liberal Party

1. If your party is in power, what are your specific commitments to the horse racing and breeding industry, across all of Ontario?

"A successful and sustainable horse racing industry has an important role to play in the economic and social life of this province, especially in rural Ontario. That is why under the leadership of Premier Wynne, the Ontario Liberal government established a new path forward – the Horse Racing Partnership Plan – which came into effect April 1, 2014. This represents a five-year commitment by Ontario Liberals to invest up to $500 million to support a world-class horse racing industry in the province.

Critical to the success of the plan is the formation of an innovative, world-leading alliance of standardbred tracks including Woodbine, Mohawk, Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Western Fair, Clinton, Hanover and Grand River. The alliance represents an unparalleled level of partnership and provides a solid foundation for Ontario Standardbred owners, breeders and horsepersons. The tracks will work together to implement operational efficiencies, co-ordinate a year-round racing calendar, develop a program of racing that is attractive to foreign and domestic customers, and establish consistent purses.

The plan provides the industry with opportunities for growth. By increasing funding for purses and operational support for regional tracks, the government is giving operators the tools to develop new sources of revenue and build business relationships that will support a sustainable horse racing industry in Ontario. The Liberal government commitment is to provide ongoing support to the horse racing industry that is accountable, transparent and provides each sector of the industry -- owners, breeders and racetrack operators -- with the potential to be profitable.

Integrating horse racing into the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission's modernization plan will help achieve those goals. Integration will include opportunities to develop new gaming products in partnership with Ontario Lottery and Gaming, as well as consideration of horse racing in the land-based gaming modernization process.

Ontario Liberals recognize that the heart of the industry is the race horse, and Ontario has a proud history of breeding some of the world's greatest race horses. That is why a Liberal government would continue its commitment to an enhanced Horse Improvement Program to provide incentives to Ontario Bred and Sired horses racing in their home province.

Furthermore, the plan includes measures to ensure that racehorses are treated humanely both while they are racing and after retirement.

The Ontario Liberal Party has a detailed plan in place that supports an economically sound, commercially viable model of world class Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, and encourages the industry to be more consumer-oriented and grow its fan base and wagering revenues."

2. Mentioning as many specifics as possible, how do you plan to integrate the OLG and the horse racing industry?

"With the direction and support of the Ontario Liberal government, horse racing integration includes a $100 million investment by the Ontario government directed to the horse racing industry in each of the next five years to help cultivate a sustainable industry.

Further, acting under the direction of the Ontario Liberal government, OLG has pursued a number of discrete initiatives to integrate horse racing into the provincial gaming strategy within current federal and provincial legislative frameworks. OLG is committing the necessary resources to implement and execute the plan including:

  • Leases: OLG has signed and executed lease agreements with some racetrack operators, and reached lease agreements in principle with all the other racetrack owners to continue its slots operations at all 14 of its sites for three to five year period. In addition, OLG will offer those racetracks which have live race dates the option for a longer term lease with a guaranteed term which runs to 2019. This is aligned with the government’s commitment of funding for 5 years.

  • Procurement: OLG’s competitive procurement process seeks service providers to manage the day-to-day operations of gaming sites. The gaming site Request for Pre-Qualifications (RFPQ) process enables OLG to create a list of qualified service providers to be invited to the Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The RFPQ for the Greater Toronto Area Gaming Bundle requires vendors to provide details on experience related to horse racing activities. Future gaming site procurement documents will also contain criteria related to horse racing.

  • New OLG gaming products: Exploration of lottery scheme products that adhere to Criminal Code of Canada requirements and have the potential for generating net new revenue for the Province (through OLG’s returns) and the horse racing industry.

  • Marketing, Business and Responsible Gambling expertise: OLG is currently supporting the horse racing industry through a number of OLG Slots marketing initiatives. Working collaboratively with the sites, OLG will integrate horse racing in advertising and through cross-promotion to further promote horse racing to OLG Slots customers. This will include initiatives such as:

    • Incorporating racetrack and racing information into OLG Slots print and digital brand advertising (brochures, rack cards and websites);

    • Displaying racing information on digital screens located on gaming floors; and

    • Leveraging Promotions & Events sections on OLG Slots & Casinos web sites ( and to provide information about upcoming races.

    • OLG will also provide business expertise related to procurement and responsible gambling programming expertise."

3. If elected, how quickly will you execute against your commitments from questions 1 and 2.

"The Horse Racing Partnership Plan and OLG’s integration initiatives are established and underway."

4. After two years of upheaval and uncertainty, why should horse racing's participants and stakeholders vote for you?‎

"As Premier, Kathleen Wynne delivered on her commitment to create a sustainable future for the horse racing industry by implementing the Horse Racing Partnership Plan. The Ontario Liberal government is making a 5-year, $500-million commitment to stabilize the industry and provide an environment that supports opportunities for growth and sustainability.

In the Auditor General’s report, she noted that under SARP “owners grew reliant on their growing slots revenue share just to sustain their horse-racing operations”. The Ontario Liberal Party commits to providing the appropriate public support needed to maintain a foundation for racing, but, more importantly, it provides the industry with opportunities for growth.

Now is not the time to go backwards. The future for the industry – here and across North America - is in looking forward and building a new fan base for the sport."

June 10, 2014 - 8:03 amCut in pay! They just

Cut in pay! They just created a new beaurocracy which provided their friends with high paying jobs.

June 9, 2014 - 4:47 pmFrom everyone I've spoken to

Greg Perry SAID...

From everyone I've spoken to the only viable place to race in Ontario is WEG. The other tracks purses have lowered just enough to make it impossible to earn a living. We need tracks that have $100,000 per day purses, otherwise it will just be a hobby.
The grand plan will be a band aid for 5 years until they see the results, and then more cuts will come.
The only solution is a return to SARP with more oversight and rules for tracks to follow ensuring growth within OUR industry not just slots.

June 9, 2014 - 3:43 pmI think the answer to your

Jamie Higgs SAID...

I think the answer to your question John. Lisa McLeod is the MPP for Nepean Carleton and she has ruffled Wynne's feathers on many occasions. It's not beneath these Liberals to punish the people who fight against them.

June 9, 2014 - 1:54 pmI think there is no different

Terry Reid SAID...

I think there is no different then when it first started. They keep saying they are helping but nothing has changed within the last 2 years, 7 of my family members were all licensed horsemen and now there are only 2 of us left. that is only because they promised us racing at leamington and now it looks like we will need winter jackets if this is to come true. This is just like last year they gave us the dates so late in the year, it just seems like they're trying to set us up to fail. If you think this is help I hate to see them try and hurt us.

June 9, 2014 - 12:12 pmRideau Carleton is one of

Rideau Carleton is one of several tracks snubbed by the Liberal plan. Rideau Carleton is in Ontario too so why are we receiving less investment from the province. We have been operating for 51 years and are industry leaders in terms of marketing and innovation. Our handle is quite respectable and our on track attendance is very high. Why do the Liberals feel purses should be lower at this track than other tracks in Ontario?

June 9, 2014 - 12:04 pmThe race industry (owners,

Norm Brunet SAID...

The race industry (owners, breeders, horseman) still don't have any idea where the Liberals are going with this program and are hesitant to reinvest in Ontario.
It's not until the SARP is reinstated that investment and TRUST will return to Ontario.
The long term survival of this industry is very much dependant on the subsidy vs revenue sharing argument. With tough measures ahead of us to balance the books a subsidy will NOT be popular with fellow taxpayers and could spell the end of the industry. We all know the hard way that the last thing you get from the Liberals is the truth.

June 9, 2014 - 11:54 amThe fact remains, that under

The fact remains, that under the Liberals, horse racing is still a SUBSIDIZED industry and at the MERCY of the Provincial gov't in power. They decimated the racing industry because they didn't get any voter support in rural Ontario and never dreamed that they would get the backlash from not only racing participants but also from some of the metro areas who didn't want the casinos in their back yards. The economic loss in terms of capital investment to Ontario is staggering considering the fact that a lot of the small breeders either closed their operations or moved to other jurisdictions. NO THANKS is right. The voters of Ontario need to send them packing and get them the hell out of Queens Park. It's high time to clean house.

June 9, 2014 - 11:42 amAmazing!! As cold as it was

john smith SAID...

Amazing!! As cold as it was this past winter,the liberals
produced enough hot air to have heated any number of horse
barns for the winter.
Well Ms.Wynne it´s really to bad you could not practice what
you and your party have been preaching for some time now.
TRANSPARENCY.You and your party have swept more controvercial
issues under the rug since being in power than the average
person would sweep up off the floor at the end of the day in
a horse barn.
Ms.Wynne the Auditor General also had plenty to say about the
OLG and this new plan which your party had endorsed,or don´t you
recall this.Selective memory does not bode well for honesty towards
the people of Ontario at this time.

June 9, 2014 - 10:46 amSo in other words they stick

Lorne House SAID...

So in other words they stick to their same plan that has us here.. No thank you. Every horseman needs to vote Thursday!! No excuses!!

June 9, 2014 - 10:25 amThe Liberal Party are just

The Liberal Party are just spin Doctors. Same BS, time after time. Take care of the GTA and rural Ontario can die.
Integrating the OLG and racing. Still all propaganda.
I see many racing families hurting badly. Many owners either out of business or redirecting their investments to the US.
The future is bleak at best! WE NEED A CHANGE at Queens Park.

Doug McIntosh

June 9, 2014 - 10:17 amSounds like take what we gave

Dave Myrick SAID...

Sounds like take what we gave you and like it. We know what is best for the harness racing and breeding industry. LOL

June 9, 2014 - 10:06 ami wonder if the liberals

terry gudz SAID...

i wonder if the liberals would take a buzz cut in pay related to the decrease in the purse structure with the costs associated with the horse racing industry

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