Media Release

Ontario Local Food Act passes with further improvements

Nov 05 2013

Toronto: The Ontario Government’s Local Food Act (Bill 36) was passed by the Ontario Legislature today with a few improvements from earlier versions of the Bill.

Bill 36, introduced in March 2013, was amended following hearings before the Standing Committee on Social Policy in October at which CELA appeared and gave testimony. Amendments to Bill 36 incorporated into the final version of the Bill included:

  • Specifying in the Act (instead of leaving to future regulations) areas where the Minister must establish goals or targets within one year of the relevant paragraph coming into force, including:

           * Improving food literacy in respect of local food;
           * Encouraging increased use of local food by public sector organizations; and
           * Increasing access to local food;

  • Requiring the Minister to report annually (instead of triennially) on progress achieved under the Act; and
  • Authorizing tax credits to farmers for donating certain agricultural products they produce to entities such as food banks.

The original bill was introduced on October 4, 2012, but died on the order paper as a result of prorogation.

“CELA regards local food legislation as critically important for Ontario’s economic and environmental health”, said Joseph F. Castrilli, counsel at CELA, and noted that “the bill, though further improved from its previous iterations, could still have benefited from stronger legislative language, greater accountability, and a broader scope”. CELA had urged the Government to review and apply the model legislative language included in CELA’s Model Local Food Act, released in February 2013. CELA’s model bill provided for coordinated governance, binding targets, public participation, and greater government accountability. We also recommended that the law require local food education to ensure youth are educated about the relationship between local food systems, the environment, and their health. Finally, CELA sought measures to ensure local food distribution, to enable greater access to local food including local farmer access to markets, as well as healthy food and farming programs, to ensure that environmentally sound farming and food processing are adequately supported by government.

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For more information, please contact:
Joseph F. Castrilli (416) 960-2284 x 218, castrillij@sympatico.ca