This week, Ontario Premier – and Minister of Agriculture and Food – Kathleen Wynne sent the following letter to the Transition Team appointed by Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale MPP and Minister of Community and Social Services Ted McMeekin (when he was the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs) to provide advice on the future of horse racing in the province. The Transition Team is comprised of former provincial Cabinet ministers John Snobelen (Progressive Conservative), John Wilkinson (Liberal) and Elmer Buchanan (NDP):
Thank you for briefing me on the feedback you have received from horse racing and wagering stakeholders on your Draft Plan “Toward a Sustainable Future” released in June 2013. In anticipation of your pending Final Report, I want to ask you to please provide me with a comprehensive Five Year Plan, to be effective April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2019.
Specifically, the Five Year Plan is to incorporate the principles you have previously laid out. I would ask that you present your most comprehensive advice regarding the distribution of the proposed minimum of 800 race days for each of the three breeds by category of racing (i.e. premier, signature, grassroots), including identifying at which tracks these races should be run, their recommended competitive purse levels, and the stable support required for the breeding sector to maximize the economic benefit to Ontario.
I also ask that you recommend a revised governance structure to accomplish the Five Year Plan, including the role of the Ontario Racing Commission and industry associations.
Finally, I require that you establish the specific amount of recommended government investment required during the Five Year Plan to achieve a vibrant, sustainable horse racing industry that is accountable, transparent, customer-focused and of net benefit to the taxpayers of Ontario. This amount should include any necessary re-profiling of the existing Pari-Mutuel Tax Reduction revenues flowing to the racing industry.
I want to reiterate that I require specific recommendations on how to best achieve the integration of gaming and horse racing in Ontario.
I appreciate your collective efforts in the preparation of your reports to date, and your commitment to helping the industry move forward to a sustainable future. We are now in the home stretch. I look forward to seeing you at the finish line.