Endorsing a plea by RacingFuture.com, the CAW is calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to put an immediate hold on the withdrawal of slot machines from Ontario's racetracks, a move that threatens to wipe out the province's horse racing and breeding industry and throw 55,000 hard-working Ontarians into unemployment, at least until a detailed cost-benefit analysis of the move has been ordered, carried out and made public.
"In suddenly ending a successful 14-year partnership that has been benefiting both the industry and the Ontario economy, the McGuinty government is failing to make a distinction between the wealthy people who own racehorses and the 55,000 ordinary people who mostly live in rural areas and make between $20,000 and $80,000 a year, running small farms, breeding and boarding horses, providing veterinary, training, feed and transport services, or working at racetracks grooming and walking horses, keeping the horses healthy and fed, sweeping the floors and cleaning the horse stalls, running the paramutuals and maintaining the slots," said CAW President Ken Lewenza.
"The government shouldn't be taking a step that will ruin these people's lives and harm the whole economy on a whim, without at least clearly demonstrating what the net social and economic impacts will be and why this is a good thing to be doing."
RacingFuture.com, online through the link below , was established by long-serving former Liberal MP and corporate executive Dennis Mills and seeks to be a voice for these 55,000 voiceless primarily rural workers in bringing their plight to the attention of the Ontario public, and particularly of their urban neighbours living in the cities.
In an open letter to Premier McGuinty posted on the website, Mills called on the premier to "direct an immediate halt to all further slot machine withdrawals from racetracks at least pending a detailed review of impacts and alternatives" and to "direct the Ministries of Finance, Industry etc. and OLG to produce detailed cost/benefit analysis of the current partnership-ending initiative, including costs of job loss, general economic impact on our province, the net revenue effect for the Ontario government, and the impacts and alternatives for 55,000 current industry workers, and make the results public."
In throwing CAW's support behind this appeal, President Lewenza noted that the horse racing and breeding industry directly contributed more than $2.3 billion to Ontario's annual income in 2010, and three times that much when the indirect and induced multipliers are factored in.