She heads to Saskatoon in July to discuss the next ag policy framework
By Diego Flammini
Ontario’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, Lisa Thomspon, has held cabinet positions before.
She was the minister of education from June 2018 to June 2019 and the minister of government and consumer services from June 2019 to June 2021.
But receiving the call from Premier Ford to be included in his cabinet is always special.
“It’s absolutely humbling,” she told Farms.com. “We have a caucus of 83 people, and we have an amazing (and) diverse group of people with a skillset that is second to none. I feel in this particular case, we were very cognizant of the ability for stability, continuity and picking up where we left off.”
Thompson, the MPP for Huron-Bruce, and her other cabinet colleagues, were sworn in on June 24.
With the ceremonial elements out of the way, Thompson, a farmer herself, is ready to get to work.
A priority for the provincial government is to rebuild the economy and agriculture can play a pivotal role in that.
Building more processing capacity, capitalizing on new technology and ensuring the right infrastructure is in the right place will help Ontario, she said.
Inflation is another topic affecting Ontarians.
Prices at the pumps and at the tills seem to be increasing continually.
Ontario’s ag sector can also help battle inflation, Minister Thompson said.
“We need to take a look at the primary drivers of inflation. It’s the cost of transportation, the cost of fuel (and) the cost of food,” she said. “If we’re processing closer to home and adding value to our agri-food supply chain, we’re minimizing additional fuel and transportation costs.”
Part of Minister Thompson’s job will also include working with the federal government.
Health Canada is moving forward with front-of-package labelling that would place labels on ground beef and pork warning about high levels of saturated fat.
Ag groups and provincial governments have openly opposed this regulation.
Minister Thompson stands with the ag sector on this issue and has already been in contact with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
“We’ve been communicating with Minister Bibeau’s office directly and her counterpart, the minister of health (Minister Duclos),” Thompson said. “We need to make sure there is proper awareness and education with regards to the amazing quality of food when it comes to ground beef, veal or pork. We’re going to do everything we can to support our Ontario commodity groups in that regard.”
Minister Thompson, as well as her federal, provincial and territorial colleagues, will be meeting in Saskatoon, Sask., next month to begin discussions on the next agricultural policy framework.
The Canadian Agricultural Partnership expires on March 31, 2023.
The ministers will discuss multiple topics, Thompson said.
“There needs to be equity throughout the provinces in terms of the framework when it comes to our programs that we need in place to mitigate against risk in Ontario and across Canada,” she said. “We also need to be mindful of access to fertilizer and how we’re going to stabilize that access at a reasonable price.”
Prior to the meeting in Saskatoon, Minister Thompson will engage with Ontario commodity groups, she said.