Public Relations Battles Start over Drummond Report and McGuinty Government Response

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Ontario Horse Racing Industry AssociationTHUNDER BAY – In light of the Drummond Report, outlining the serious issues facing the Ontario economy. There is also likely to be public relations battles as groups seeking to protect the funding that they receive.

The Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association states, “Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has been falsely referring to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Slots at Racetrack revenue sharing program as a subsidy. His claim is that the Government has been providing a $345 million dollar annual subsidy to Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry. In a recent fundraising email to supporters, the Ontario Liberal Party suggested that they are ‘choosing to support our youngest learners over wealthy race track owners’ “.

According to the OHRIA, “Duncan’s plans to save the Government $345 million from this alleged subsidy, would actually result in adding another $1.1 billion dollars to Ontario’s already out of control deficit. According to OLG’s financial statements, the Government of Ontario is receiving $1.1 billion dollars per year from the Slots at Racetracks Program. The horse racing industry, which has made space available to OLG slots and allowed competition between the slots and horse racing at their facilities, receives only 20% of the revenue from the slots. The Government walks away with 75% of the slots revenue and host municipalities receive 5%”.

Sue Leslie, President of the association says, “If the Liberals end the Slots at Racetrack program, they will be forced to cut an additional $1.1 billion dollars a year from Ontario’s budget. This represents nearly 75% of the cost of full day kindergarden or three times the cost of the Liberal’s 30% tuition reduction”.

“The Ontario Liberals need to make a decision. If they want to see the government revenue stabilize and grow, they can’t be ending programs that generate $1.1 billion dollars a year for the Government, which is exactly what Dwight Duncan is proposing to do,” continued Leslie. “They can’t have it both ways. If they end the Slots at Racetrack program, they will lose $1.1 billion dollars of revenue each year. We are supporting Ontario’s youngest learners by generating more than a billion dollars a year for the Government.” Leslie added.

According to an economic study prepared for OHRIA in November 2011, there are 31,441 full time jobs sustained by Ontario’s Horse Racing Industry, with up to 60,000 jobs supported by the industry when factoring in part-time and casual employment. With expenditures of nearly $2 billion dollars in the province of Ontario and 80% of that money being spent in rural municipalities, horse racing is the second largest subsection of Ontario’s agriculture economy.

“We will continue to increase pressure on the Government to recognize the devastating impact a short sighted decision to attempt to save $345 million dollars would have on Government revenues and the 60,000 families who rely on our industry for a pay cheque,” continued Leslie.

The OLG’s Annual Report for 2009-2010 is available on the OLG website at www.olg.ca

The economic study prepared for OHRIA is available at www.ohria.com

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