South Central Ontario Region Economic Development Corporation (SCOR EDC) was recently invited to meet Kathleen Wynne, Premier Designate of Ontario, regarding plans for Ontario’s future.
SCOR EDC was among a select group of other organizations who were invited to contribute to the meeting hosted by Wynne. Others present were also representatives of small urban and rural Ontario and those with agricultural interests.
Wynne informed the group that she is committed to be the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural affairs for the first year she is Premier. She acknowledged the challenge of wearing both hats, and stated the importance of understanding the needs of communities in rural Ontario.
Many of the issues brought forth were of concern to all in attendance, some of the larger issues discussed included: infrastructure stability in rural and small urban Ontario, youth unemployment and lack of skilled workers, Provincial Policy Statement as it relates to value added business activity on farms, and the importance of services delivered within rural Ontario such as schools and healthcare. Also discussed was the need for Ministries to collaborate on investment opportunities and issues impacting agriculture, rural communities and organizations.
SCOR’s chairperson, Tillsonburg Mayor John Lessif, communicated to the Premier and her staff that creating a Rural Secretariat within the Ministry might be a good approach to focus on issues specific to rural communities, especially those serving agriculture and driving the rural economy. He suggested SCOR EDC would be pleased to participate on any further discussions if this was a direction she decided to pursue.
“I was appreciative of the opportunity to bring forward the role rural communities take in supporting the farmers and other related agriculture businesses,” said Lessif in a media release Friday. “Together we’re better, and to the credit of the Agri stakeholders they do excellent work and create good results including advocacy and partnering with the Ministry. The Ministry needs to elevate the relationship with rural Ontario and I came away with the belief the new Premier shares this view.
“Continued conversations with SCOR EDC and others highlight Ms. Wynne’s recognition of all the issues that face rural Ontario and the acknowledgement that it will take determination and a long term view such as that which SCOR EDC brings to the table. The key to moving forward will be strong committed partnerships.”