October 16, 2013
OHHA Comments on the Five-Year Partnership Plan as presented to the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food by the Horse Racing Industry Transition Panel
The Ontario Harness Horse Association thanks the members of the Panel for their time and effort in preparing a five-year plan that is to build a sustainable, viable horse racing industry. We fully recognize this effort has not been without its challenges.
We understand that the Panel was working within the parameters as set and with the available limited government funding. In reality, there is no comparing of purse levels between the years under the Slots-at-Racetracks Program and this proposed five-year plan; horsepeople will be racing for significantly less money, at fewer tracks, on fewer race days and will be affected by this.
OHHA feels encouraged by the suggested changes to the Ontario Racing Commission. As an association representing the Standardbred horsepeople in Ontario we have often experienced circumstances and situations in which there seemed to be a certain lack of consideration for the horsepeople’s realities of life and racing. We feel strongly that with the Panel’s recommendations a better and more mutually supportive relationship will be achieved.
OHHA fully supports the Panel’s suggestion to create one Standardbred horsepersons group for the alliance tracks to represent all licensed members. The cost to the horsepeople will be greatly reduced when one group is elected to represent them, as opposed to the current four groups which has been the cause of duplication in services, insurance premiums, administration, etc. Certainly one association will strengthen the voice of the Standardbred horsepeople during required negotiations and any matters of concern.
There remain certain unknown factors such as the exact division of monies distributed to the horsepeople and the tracks. This association will continue to work with the members of the Panel and try to establish more specifics. At a time further details become available additional comment will be provided by OHHA.