I’m deeply disappointed by the news that HJ Heinz is closing its Leamington processing plant. This plant closure will not only cost Ontario 800 direct jobs, it is also a blow to the farmers who supply Heinz and the other businesses that support local food and farmers in SW Ontario.
A strong food processing sector is essential to supporting local sustainable food systems and securing local food jobs. As a long time advocate for Ontario food and farmers, I’m going to continue to push for a strong food processing sector and policies to support local food and farmers.
Unfortunately, the Heinz announcement is one in a string of Ontario processing plant closures. In the past five years Ontario has lost a major sweet corn and pea canning factory in Exeter and a fruit canning plant near Niagara-on-the-Lake. In the past decade, the province has lost 70% of our small abattoirs.
The Liberal government must take action to support our food processing sector. The Premier should use her new powers as Minister of Agriculture and Food under the Local Food Act to immediately require public institutions to purchase local food. The province also needs to end its one-size-fits-all regulations that hurt small food processors.
The Green Party will continue to push the government to act on Ontario’s Food and Beverage Processing Industry Strategy.
A vibrant local food sector is essential to a strong economy that grows local jobs. It is also contributes to our health and well being. Ontario needs more action and less talk to support local food and farmers.