The Ontario New Democratic Party’s motion calling for the reinstatement of the Slots-At-Racetracks Program was carried in a 45-38 vote by the Ontario Legislature at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, November 20.
The non-binding motion was tabled by NDP leader Andrea Horwath and carried with the support of the NDP and PC parties while the Liberals voted against it.
“Kathleen Wynne’s OLG modernization plan is hurting horse racing families across rural Ontario,” said Horwath. “A lot of damage has already been done, but it’s not too late to bring back a re-vamped, transparent, and fully accountable SARP program.
“This vote is a wake-up call for Premier Wynne. Horsepeople have called on the government to restore the SARP program and the majority of this Legislature agrees. Liberals need to rethink their plan to put horsepeople out of business by barging ahead with casino developments in unwilling municipalities.”
The full text of the motion is as follows:
That, in the opinion of this House, the Liberal Government has failed to consult affected communities and the horse racing sector in its plans for OLG modernization; and
That the OLG plan to expand private casinos into urban centres where they’re not wanted is misguided; and
That both the Liberal and Tory plans for more private casinos in Ontario have resulted in the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program (SARP); and
That the cancellation of the SARP has negatively affected not-for-profit racetracks like Fort Erie.
Therefore, The Legislative Assembly calls on the Government to re-instate and maintain the SARP program unless and until a new revenue sharing program is developed in consultation with affected communities, industry and stakeholders; and
That all existing and future racetrack audits be published to ensure that funds are dispersed to the horse racing industry in a fair and transparent process. Addressed to the Premier of Ontario.
The NDPs and PCs previously cooperated to pass a non-binding horse racing motion, tabled by Essex’s NDP MPP Taras Natyshak, in March. That motion called for the suspension of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp.’s gaming modernization plan and for changes to the Slots-At-Racetracks program be put on hold.