What We're Working on For You: OFVGA issues and activities update
What we’re working on for you:
OFVGA issues and activities update
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This new regular newsletter is to keep you, our members, informed about what the key issues and files are that OFVGA is currently tackling on behalf of growers.
For more information on any items in this newsletter, please contact Gordon Stock, Senior Policy and Government Relations Advisor, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-763-6160, ext. 125.
The top three issues
1. Crop protection – PMRA elimination of mancozeb and metiram
Since the announcement in June by the Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) that fungicides containing mancozeb and metiram would be eliminated for all uses except foliar application in potatoes, OFVGA has been actively working with member organizations and the Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC) to voice the industry’s concern. OFVGA Crop Protection Chair Charles Stevens has taken the lead on efforts to keep these products available to growers.
Latest status: OFVGA, in concert with CHC, have succeeded in convincing Pest Management Regulatory Agency (PMRA) to cancel the phase-out of mancozeb and restart the review process for the fungicide. The agency agreed that their consultation document did not meet transparency requirements under the Pest Control Products Act. Their decision on metiram, however, stands and that fungicide will only be allowed for use in potatoes as of June 2020.
2. Labour – Bill 148
OFVGA supports the new government’s campaign commitment to maintain minimum wage at its current rate of $14 an hour instead of proceeding with the increase to $15 in January 2019 as had been legislated by the previous Liberal government. Other aspects of Bill 148 of interest to OFVGA are what mechanism the new government will use to determine future minimum wage increases, and exemptions for agricultural workers.
Latest status: OFVGA has requested a meeting with Ontario’s new labour minister, Laurie Scott, to raise awareness of edible horticulture’s perspectives on Bill 148.
3. Labour – Ensuring respectful SAWP audits
The federal government through Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) has been stepping up compliance audits for farms who employ workers under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. Concerns have been raised about how these integrity audits are carried out and the sweeping powers afforded to auditors during the process.
Latest status: Former federal agriculture minister Lyle Vanclief has been hired to work with the government to ensure audits are respectful and promote a culture of collaboration to help farm employers make improvements identified by the audit process. Any growers experiencing challenges with a compliance audit are encouraged to contact Gordon Stock at OFVGA so the problems can be documented and addressed.
Other files we’re keeping an eye on
Business risk management: The federal review of business risk management programming is continuing but no longer involves the team of industry leaders appointed to the process last year. Instead the review will be conducted entirely by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. OFVGA supports the review process with industry involvement to ensure safety net programming is responsive to needs of a wide range of farm businesses.
Self-Directed Risk Management (SDRM): OFVGA has written to Ontario Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman seeking confirmation that the expansion of Risk Management Program funds committed to in the election campaign will also include the SDRM program for horticulture.
Edible hort support program: OFVGA is lobbying to ensure this program, announced last fall, is maintained and that the second payment will be completed next April as planned.
Grow Ontario Together: OFVGA continues to be engaged and involved with the Grow Ontario Together (GOT) coalition of agricultural organizations working on phosphorous reduction. The group is currently reviewing its role and how to move forward in ways that can influence phosphorous reduction in the Great Lakes on a long-term basis.
Northern fruit and vegetable program
For more than a decade, OFVGA has been delivering the Northern fruit and vegetable program for the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care. The program provides over three million servings of fresh fruits and vegetables annually to northern Ontario school children from January to June in all of northern Ontario, including remote fly-in communities. OFVGA has reached out to the new minister of health and northern affairs, Christine Elliott, to make her aware of the program and ensure continued support from the ministry.
Events we are attending
September 12: Grape Growers of Ontario luncheon
September 13: Canadian Produce Marketing Association mid-summer meeting
September 14: Canadian Produce Marketing Association government issues management committee
September 19: Farm and Food Care environmental advisory council meeting
September 24 – 26: United Fresh Produce Association annual conference
September 28: Agriculture wildlife conflict working group
October 3 – 4: Canadian Greenhouse Conference
October 18 – 20: Produce Marketing Association Fresh Summit
November 5 – 7: Canadian Horticultural Association fall harvest lobbying event