10/15/2012


A provincial bill to promote local food has laudable goals, but AMO is cautioning the Province about how it could add to municipal reporting requirements and reach outside of municipal governments’ roles and responsibilities.
 
Bill 130, known in short as the Promoting Local Food Act, 2012, was introduced on October 4th by Minister Ted McMeekin, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

The draft legislation would allow the Minister, after consultation, to establish aspirational goals or targets regarding local food.  Under the proposed legislation, the Minister may require a public sector organization – a municipality, hospital, long-term care home, school, college or university, etc. - to provide information related to increasing awareness, access and sales of local food. This may include providing information to assist in:

 

  • Establishing a goal or target or determining the actions required to meet a goal or target;
  • Understanding the steps being taken to meet a goal or target; or
  • Assessing the progress toward meeting a goal or target.
AMO supports the development of the local food economy and fully understands the economic and social benefits for such investment. However, it is not clear why municipalities would be required to report to OMAFRA as proposed. The requirements would add to the administrative reporting burden already funded by municipal taxpayers. It is estimated that municipalities are currently required to complete about 270 reports per year to the Ontario government on funded and unfunded mandates. The proposed Bill 130 requirements would further add to this load. As well, it concerns a matter outside of municipal governments’ mandates and responsibilities.

AMO recommends that the Ministry consider a voluntary approach to the information provision requirements under the draft Bill that would enable the leaders in the local food industry to continue to lead. One potential opportunity would be to use the Ontario Municipal Knowledge Network to publish best practices for municipal governments on promoting local food.

AMO will continue to monitor and keep members updated on Bill 130 as it moves through the Legislature.