MITCHELL, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 21, 2016) - The Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processor Association has written Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne after she made comments in a year-end interview in the Globe & Mail on December 18, 2016. In her interview she suggested that Ontario's economic recovery has focused in certain sectors while ravaging others especially in southwestern Ontario.
Karl Evans, President of the Ontario Fruit and Vegetable Processor Association wrote the Premier to tell her that a "major barrier to maintaining and growing processing jobs is a small cartel - directors of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, who have the right to unilaterally impose terms and conditions on the vegetable processing sector. This has resulted in several plant closings costing over 1,000 jobs. This cartel has been antagonistic to any investment policies or strategies to grow jobs."
Evans also highlighted in his letter that government inaction have contributed to the negative investment climate for processors. He asked the Premier to take steps to save jobs by implementing recommendations from the independent Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission.
In his letter Evans wrote, "On December 19th in the Globe and Mail you correctly pointed out that some areas of the province are more disadvantaged than others.
"When someone moves from a manufacturing job and isn't able to work in the advanced manufacturing sector, for example, or isn't able to make that transition as easily as they thought they might, or their kids haven't found a job yet - those are really hard facts for people to deal with," Ms. Wynne said." You specifically referenced South Western Ontario.
Those Premier are the facts in South West Ontario in the food processing industry. Good full time jobs have been leaving the Province, never to return.
As the processors who create those thousands of jobs and who brought jobs back to South West Ontario we have a significant concern to share with you.
A major barrier to maintaining and growing processing jobs is the actions of a small cartel - directors of the Ontario Processing Vegetable Growers, who have the right to unilaterally impose terms and conditions on the vegetable processing sector.
This has resulted in several plant closings costing over 1,000 jobs. This cartel has been antagonistic to any investment policies or strategies to grow jobs. This was recognized in the report of your independent Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission (OFPMC) in June of this year.
In its report to the Minister on June 28, 2016 OFPMC recommended the removal of the authority of this cartel. This was after two years of mentoring the cartel to change to help create jobs!
On August 17, 2016, Premier, your Minister of Agriculture stayed the removal of powers for an indefinite time for "more consultations" without any rationale.
Premier this issue has been studied since 1980, in each case the recommendation was to remove the Cartel's authority over the industry.
Since the Minister's action, processors have cut commitments for 100,000 tons of tomatoes for the 2017 season and have announced a cutback in purchases of seedlings which will further reduce production.
Your Minister and the Commission know of other investments that have now been put on hold.
We believe the public has a right to know how jobs are being killed because of your Minister's decisions.
We respectfully recommend that in order to comply with your mandate letter to grow the agribusiness sector; save the jobs we currently have; and to protect our ability to grow jobs, that you direct your Minister of Agriculture to immediately implement the recommended changes to Regulation 440.
Premier, we know you appreciate there cannot be further investment in the sector until the reforms recommended by your independent Commission are implemented.
Premier to protect the jobs of factory workers through South West Ontario we urge you to implement the reforms to Regulation 440 immediately."