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Ontario PC election news release: Ford promises 'relief' for rural Ontario

News release issued by the PC Party on May 23, 2018 

The press release was issued on May 23, 2018, by the Ontario PC Party on behalf of Sudbury riding candidate Troy Crowder and Nickel Belt candidate Jo-Ann Cardinal
ESSEX — Ontario PC Leader Doug Ford today shared more details of his plan for the people and, in particular, his plan to provide real relief to farmers and families in rural Ontario.

“Our Ontario PC Plan is a plan for the people, and when I say ‘the people’ I mean all of the people,” said Ford. “This includes our farmers, and rural families who have been left behind by the Liberals and who will be ignored by the Toronto special interests who run the NDP.”

Ford announced that an Ontario PC Government will increase the Risk Management Program (RMP) cap by $50 million annually to help farmers and other producers better manage risks outside of their control.

“We’re going to take real action to help farmers,” said Ford. “This means more stability, income security and peace of mind for farmers all of which is long overdue.”

Ford also announced that an Ontario PC Government will enable private sector participation in the expansion of natural gas across Ontario. The provincial government would then, in turn, use savings of up to $100 million to partner with providers in order to deliver cellular and broadband expansion across rural and Northern Ontario.

“This will means better, more reliable connections, better opportunities to create and grow a business and better options to find a good job,” said Ford. “Ultimately it means letting people in rural Ontario build their careers and raise their families right here at home.”

“We are running a campaign for all of the people,” Ford concluded. “It doesn’t matter if you live in a big city or a small town or who you voted for in the past. The days of you being ignored will soon be over. Change is coming and help is on the way.”
Backgrounder – Risk Management Program, Natural Gas and Rural Broadband
Risk Management Program (RMP): 

• The agriculture sector constitutes a large part of rural and small town Ontario, with over 2.2 million Ontarians employed in the broader agriculture sector.[1] 
• Ontario agriculture programs, such as the Risk Management Program (RMP), are vital programs for the continued success of the agricultural sector and, therefore, the Ontario economy.
• The RMP is an agricultural insurance program for farmers to get funding help when a particular commodity is below a certain target price due to circumstances outside of a farmer’s control. 
• The RMP was created in 2011 and just over a year later the Liberals imposed a cap of $100 million on the program, which leaves little protection for farmers who may face unpredictable, and large, commodity price shifts.
How We Will Fix It: 

• A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will increase the Risk Management Program cap by $50 million to help farmers and other producers better manage risks outside of their control.
• That means, $150 million will now be available to farmers annually through the RMP and the program will remain accessible to the cattle, grains and oilseed, hog, sheep and veal sectors.
• This policy will be implemented in year 3 of the mandate and will cost the government $50 million annually.
• Unlike the Wynne Liberals, Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs will give farmers and rural Ontario the respect they deserve.
The Liberals prevented private natural gas expansion: 

• The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) recently decided to prevent natural gas distributors from funding expansion projects in rural and Northern communities.[2]
• Since the OEB did not let private capital build new natural gas networks, the Ontario Liberal government had to subsidize expansion through a $100 million program (Natural Gas Grant Program), to pay for something the private sector was ready and willing to pay for.[3]
• The Wynne Government’s Natural Gas Grant Program only reaches 11 communities.[4] In comparison, proposals from the privately-run natural gas companies were prepared to reach over 70 communities and over 38,000 potential new customers.[5]
• Natural gas is a quarter of the cost of electricity and approximately one-third the cost of propane or fuel oil. Accordingly, providing communities with access to lower cost energy will give families, businesses, and farmers a much-needed cost saving measure.
How We Will Fix It: 

• A Doug Ford Ontario PC Government will enable privately-funded natural gas expansion to more communities while saving the province up to $100 million.
Broadband Expansion: 

• Rural and remote communities in Ontario suffer from a lack high-speed broadband access and/or reliable cellular coverage.
• While high-speed broadband access is universal in urban areas, only 85% of rural communities have similar access.[6]
• This puts rural communities at a disadvantage when competing for new businesses or even improving quality of life for families.
• When it comes to cellular service, a lack of proper infrastructure affects more than just the ability to communicate with friends and family. Proper cellular service can also save lives, and connect people with the necessary services, in emergency situations.
How We Will Fix It: 

• A Doug Ford led-Ontario PC Government will make broadband and cellular infrastructure projects eligible under the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF), and put up to $100 million specifically towards funding these projects.
• The additional $100 million for the OCIF broadband and cellular projects will come from the savings associated with the changes to the province’s natural gas expansion program.

[5] Ontario Energy Board: Submissions of Union Gas Limited, June 20, 2016, see p. 2; Enbridge Gas Distribution Inc. Responses to Interrogatories of Energy Probe, see p. 2. Union Gas intends to reach 33 communities and 18,000 homes and businesses. Enbridge intends to reach 39 communities and 20,490 potential customers.