Dear Minister Philips and Premier Ford,
I have had several meetings with representatives from OHHA and the horse people from my riding in Chatham-Kent Leamington regarding the concerns they have regarding the lack of funding that they require as a small racetrack (Leamington) to “keep the doors open”. When in opposition, our PC caucus came to their rescue when it became obvious that the former Liberal government practically dismantled the horse racing industry. The main issue as I see it is the massive control Woodbine Entertainment Group has over the industry, especially in the area of providing funding.
I have been informed that unless they receive funding from WEG, they (small tracks) will go under leaving many unemployed since it is estimated that for every horse, 1.5 people are employed in the racing phase. The Liberals ended the “slots at racetracks” program which had a devastating impact on the breeding and racing industries in Ontario.
OHHA is urging our government to:
- Assert that it is the right of members of the Standardbred community to have a voice regarding their own financial futures
- Conduct a review of the Standardbred horse racing industry’s governance structure to ensure democratically selected representation
- Require the Ontario Racing to restore funding to OHHA (1.5% of purses paid)
- Conduct a review examining the beneficiaries of the Long Term Funding Agreement to ensure equity, proportionality and accountability
I do know that OHHA will support either a merger of the three existing Standardbred associations into a single province-wide body or a democratic election to allow horsemen to determine their representative Association.
It is my view that we need to support these rural racetracks and the people involved or we risk losing not only their support but the support of everyone involved in this industry throughout the province.
They need answers ASAP hence my reason for asking for your help Rod.