Support needed now for Ontario’s food processors

For Immediate ReleaseNovember 19, 2013
Queen’s Park: Ontario desperately needs funding for local food processing businesses says Green Party of Ontario leader Mike Schreiner. 
“The food and farming sector is the province’s largest employer, yet the Liberals are failing to take action to support local food processors and farmers,” says Schreiner. “The Liberals need to double down to support our local food industry in the same way that they acted to support the auto sector.”
The Green Party is calling for the government to establish a food processing infrastructure fund to support investments by Ontario-based companies in food processing facilities such as the Heinz plant in Leamington. 
Last week Heinz announced it will close its Leamington plant, laying off 740 full-time and 350 seasonal workers. “Closing the Heinz plant means closing down opportunities for local farmers and food. It is essential that Ontario maintain the facilities, skills and knowledge necessary to support local food processing businesses. To put it bluntly, tomatoes don’t grow themselves in Ontario,” says Schreiner. 
In the past five years Ontario has lost a major sweet corn and pea canning factory in Exeter, a pickle plant in Dunnville, and a fruit canning plant near Niagara. In the past decade, the province has lost over 70% of small scale meat processors. 
“For years I’ve called on the government to support Ontario food processors with an infrastructure fund and regulatory reform,” says Schreiner. “It’s past time for the Liberals to take action.” 
The food and farming sector employs more than 700,000 people and contributes more than $30 billion to Ontario’s economy. Ontario’s food and beverage processors alone generate $39.5 billion in revenue, create 125,000 jobs directly, and contribute $11 billion to Ontario’s GDP. 
According to Schreiner, “A strong food processing sector supports Ontario farmers, creating local jobs, developing our economy, and providing us with access to healthy local food.”