OEF’s Impact Statement – Budget Bill 55 – the Horse Racing and Breeding Industry

This document was submitted to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs
regarding Budget Bill 55 – the Horse Racing and Breeding Industry

June 6, 2012

The OLG Slots at the Racetrack Program has not been a subsidy program – a common misconception that needs to be set straight. It is a payment for services rendered and has resulted in the stimulation and successful rebirth of many of Ontario’s rural communities. Until now, that revenue sharing partnership has ted the province of Ontario.

Ontario racing supports 60,000 jobs, with many of these positions situated in rural settings where the possibility of obtaining similar employment would be unlikely. To put that employment number in perspective, this represents more than three times the seating capacity of the Air Canada Centre. If racing and its revenue sharing programs cease to exist, where will these tax-contributing families and the vibrant rural communities they support be once the dust has settled?

The racing industry cites a contribution of over $2 billion to Ontario’s economy each year through wages and salaries, including those of veterinarians, farriers, bedding suppliers, feed bills, equine shipping companies, tack and stable supply companies – the list goes on. However, there are many whose income is not attributed to this estimate. Local businesses such as restaurants, gas bars, barn builders and trailer manufacturers will also experience an immense nancial shock, not to mention the hit that the automotive sector will experience. The trickle down effect as a result of this negative impact on the racing community is potentially incalculable.

Investment in the racing industry rarely stops at the track. Horse racing has provided equestrian sport with funding ts and services. These include, but are not limited to, benevolent programs such as therapeutic riding and equine welfare initiatives. Educational initiatives such as Equine Guelph and EquiMania! a world-class children’s program, have been recipients of over $100,000 a year and depend on this support to continue their work. In 2011, the Equine Guelph research program received $345,000 from the racing industry. Additionally, it is racing that is responsible for funding the multi-million dollar facility expansions at the University of Guelph’s veterinary college and the multitude of private veterinarian clinics throughout the province. All of these programs will suffer deeply without the large monetary donations racing has provided.

Ontario has a breeding and racing program that has become one of the most successful and envied in the world, but it’s an industry on the verge of a crisis. It would be a fallacy to consider this an issue relegated solely to the backstretch of Ontario’s racetracks. Put very simply, this is an issue that affects every person who calls Ontario home.

What has taken lifetimes to develop and cultivate will be decimated by this government’s lack of knowledge regarding the issue at hand and the impact it will have. The time to act is now.

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