With a potential Ontario election only months away, the Liberal government is attempting to bring rural voters back onside with their plans of action. Premier Kathleen Wynne announced the government will increase support for the beleaguered horseracing industry to $500 million over the next five years ahead of what many pundits predict will be a difficult battle in the polls.
The announcement coincides with the launch of the new racing season. Ontario racetracks are expected to declare race dates this week for the summer racing season that includes the official dates for the Canadian Triple Crown, one of the country’s oldest series of thoroughbred races.
The government previously committed $400 million to support the industry last fall, and the new plan will increase funding by an additional $20 million over the next five years. The funding is Wynne’s pledge to correct what was seen as a mistake by Dalton McGuinty to cancel the slots at racetrack program, which provided Ontario racetracks with over $345 million annually.
A spokesperson for Wynne’s office spoke about the announcement over the weekend, confirming the government’s belief that investing in horseracing is important for Ontario’s gambling sector, as well as the economy at large.
“For every dollar invested, we believe that will be returned to the treasury through the revenue that’s generated.”
The horseracing industry is very important for rural Ontarians, and is directly responsible for the livelihoods of thousands of Ontarians. Both of Ontario’s opposition parties pledged support to the horseracing sector after the slots at racetrack program was eliminated, leaving the Liberals out of touch with the rural part of the province.
Due to the latest blow taken by the government over the cancelled gas plants near Oakville and Mississauga, a spring election appears all but inevitable. As a result, the government’s commitment to increase funding for racetracks, due to roll out beginning April 1, is in many ways a calculated move to gather support ahead of the expected trip to the polls.