JOHN ROBBINS/Bullet News
NIAGARA – The Liberal decision to end the lucrative slots-at-racetracks program will mean 13,000 race horses will have to be euthanized, Ontario’s Progressive Conservative opposition warns.
And there will be other, even more “devastating” impacts on the Ontario economy, says PC MPP Monte McNaughton.
“Sixty thousand jobs are at risk. 17 race tracks will close. Now we find out 13,000 horses will be killed. All because of Dalton McGuinty’s decision to pull the plug on Ontario’s horse racing industry,” said McNaughton.
McNaughton, the PC economic development and innovation critic, made his remarks in response to concerns raised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Horse Racing Transition Panel.
The Tories have criticized the government not only for the decision last spring to end the slots revenue sharing with race tracks, but for an alleged lack of consultation before and after the decision.
“Like many decisions coming from the McGuinty government, consultation on this plan was limited,” said McNaughton.
“Local municipalities were not consulted and will now be losing an important source of revenue.
He continued: “The horse industry was not consulted and now risks being completely wiped-out.It is clear local horsemen and their horses will bear the brunt of this poorly thought-out decision, which seems to be the way Dalton McGuinty, Dwight Duncan and their government prefer to do business.”
Here in Niagara, the cancellation of the slots-at-race-track program as put the future of the Fort Erie Race Track in serious jeopardy, along with more than 1,000 full-time and seasonal workers who depend on the 115-year-old border oval to make a living.
The Liberal have argued cancelling the program will allow millions of more dollars to be re-invested in health-care and education at a time when other programs are being cut or killed to help erase the provincial budget deficit by 2017-2018.