The Lobbying Landscape & CEDA’s Role

Written by Wayne Snow November 14, 2023 Lobbying

Machinery in a crop.

The Ontario government has spent the last few months largely pre-occupied with self-inflicted challenges.

Premier Ford has staked his government’s success on a promise to add 1.5 million homes to the housing supply over the next decade.

He announced initiatives such as strong mayor powers for 49 municipalities, and housing targets for 50+ municipalities, but was forced to backtrack on removing properties from the Greenbelt.

He accepted the resignation of two Cabinet Ministers and three senior staff, and moved Paul Calandra from Minister of Long-Term Care to Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Last month, the RCMP announced it had initiated an investigation into the process of removing parcels of land from the Greenbelt.

It Doesn’t Start or End with Housing

In addition to managing the Greenbelt scandal, many challenges remain for the government including affordability, persistent inflation, a year-long campaign of interest rate hikes by the Bank of Canada, and a housing crisis that has seen record-high rent and home ownership costs.

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy released the Fall Economic Statement earlier this month, which showed this year’s deficit will be larger than initially projected in the Spring Budget, and the government’s fiscal plan has the province running deficits for the foreseeable future.

While its revenues have been temporarily buoyed thanks to inflation, the government knows that it must kickstart economic growth to create a sustainable recovery for Ontario.

How it Applies to Dealers

Despite significant changes to Ford’s Cabinet and senior staff, Minister Thompson and her staff have remained in place at Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

CEDA continues to engage the Minister and OMAFRA staff/officials on significant gaps in the Ontario Farm Implements Act (OFIA) and its Regulation 123/06.

These gaps result in insufficient protections for farmers and dealers to be effective in today’s business environment and position Ontario legislation and regulation significantly weaker than other similar provincial and state legislations.

CEDA has held multiple meetings with Minister Thompson, her policy staff and Ministry officials. We have held similar meetings with policy staff from the offices of the Minister of Labour, the Minister of Economic Development, as well as Minister Thompson’s Parliamentary Assistant.

CEDA has received support from the OFA, the Veal Farmers of Ontario, and shortline manufacturers in Ontario.

Broadening our support base beyond CEDA provides representation from dealers, end-users, and manufacturers, which strengthens our position compared to a narrower representation from dealers only.

Attempting to Play Possum

At the end of the summer, OMAFRA officials informed CEDA that our file was placed “on pause.” Their decision resulted from their need to determine what regulatory changes could be made without requiring sweeping legislative changes; what unintended consequences might occur from this “big undertaking;” and how much the proposed changes would increase red tape.

CEDA escalated our engagement to the Premier’s office and met with the policy lead for Agriculture.

The outcome of that productive meeting was an agreement that consultations should continue, and a collaborative effort should be made to develop solutions that benefit stakeholders and align with government priorities.

Since that meeting, we have been informed by Minister Thompson’s office that officials are developing work-back plans to determine timing options for when legislative/regulatory changes can be made.  Once completed, consultations will resume with CEDA to finalize policy changes within those timelines.

We look forward to continuing our constructive and collaborative engagement with the Ministry.

If you have any questions about CEDA’s advocacy on your behalf, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will keep you informed of progress as we advance our members’ interests.