The OFAH delivered testimony yesterday (Jan. 25) afternoon during one of the many regional town halls intended to collect input ahead of the 2021 Ontario budget. The discussion was hosted by Michael Parsa, Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Treasury Board and attended by other Members of Provincial Parliament.
The OFAH took the opportunity to reiterate what we’ve been saying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Fishing and hunting can and should be invested in as a critical sector in Ontario’s social and economic recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. These are safe outdoor activities that offer essential mental and physical health benefits for the people of Ontario. In addition to personal benefits, fishing, hunting, and trapping injected billions of dollars into Ontario’s pre-pandemic economy and there is considerable room for growth with strategic investment. A modest investment in the promotion of fishing and hunting to encourage participation and domestic tourism will help stimulate rural and northern economies, while investments in infrastructure like boat launches that facilitate access to outdoor recreation can create immediate jobs and stimulus while supporting long-term sustainable resource-based economies.
We plan to submit these and many other ideas during the budget consultation to help fishing and hunting remain strong and help with Ontario’s recovery. We will post that submission here when it is finished.
In the meantime, you can click here to read our letter to Premier Ford from June 2020 and the transcript of our testimony from Monday below:
Thank you PA Parsa and our local MPPs for the opportunity to share our ideas for how the Government of Ontario can shape the 2021 Budget to support the people now, and build towards strong economic recovery. The Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters is Ontario’s largest non-profit, fish and wildlife conservation organization, representing 100,000 members, supporters, and subscribers, and 725 member clubs across the province.
The 2021 budget, and many that will follow, will seek to fill holes left in the wake of this pandemic. Personal, business, and societal economic challenges will worsen the growing mental health concerns arising from pandemic-related stress, anxiety, and grief that the people of Ontario are dealing with. We need to focus near-term stimulus and job creation on actions that will not only help the people of Ontario today, but also help us create and strengthen sustainable and lasting economies. Investments that help to fortify the social well-being of the people of Ontario while providing stimulus and economic response will be our fastest route to recovery. While some of Ontario’s traditional social and recreational economies will remain challenged in the near-term by restrictions, post-pandemic anxiety, and significant uncertainty, the fishing, hunting, and trapping sector has remained relatively strong throughout COVID-19, and can continue to be a source of economic and social strength as the people of Ontario seek safety in outdoor activities that also offer mental and physical health benefits.
Under normal conditions, Ontario’s 1.4 million licensed recreational anglers and almost half a million hunters contribute more than $4 billion to the provincial economy, and support almost 33,000 jobs. Like almost all other sectors, fishing and hunting has been impacted by COVID-19. The closure of the Canada-US border has eliminated non-resident tourism, and some residents have not been able to participate. Despite these challenges, it remains a strong economic sector for Ontario and has considerable room for growth with proper investment.
We are proposing moderate government investments that will create jobs and drive economic stimulus in the outdoors sector, while generating long-term conservation, economic, and mental health benefits that can be sustained for the people of Ontario. More specifically, we are asking for the Government of Ontario to invest in the promotion of fishing and hunting to encourage domestic participation and spending, as well as domestic tourism-related to fishing and hunting. These benefits would be most meaningful in northern and rural Ontario. Further, we are asking for immediate investments in municipal infrastructure projects like boat launches, dedicated and accessible fishing areas, and docks that can promote and facilitate access for Ontarians to participate in water-based recreation. We also ask that the government invest in infrastructure like aging dam mitigation projects to create immediate jobs and economic stimulus, as well as long-term environmental benefits to support strong and sustainable resource-based economies.
We don’t have time to completely unpack these ideas, but we intend to submit these recommendations in writing with more detail. These ideas have tremendous potential to kick-start Ontario’s social and economic recovery from COVID-19 through Ontario’s great outdoors.
Thank you again for the opportunity to share our ideas.
This is just one example of how the OFAH reminds elected officials and the general public about the modern relevance and important role of fishing, hunting, and trapping in Ontario.