Private Member’s Bill Supports Community Newspapers

By Goldie Ghamari, MPP Carleton

No matter what part of the Carleton riding you live in, you understand the importance of a community newspaper. For families, particularly in rural communities, towns and villages, community newspapers play an essential role in delivering hyper-local information that is not available anywhere else, in print or on social media, to local residents.

While most locally-owned businesses had to fight to survive the COVID-19 pandemic and the many challenges that have come in the aftermath of the measures and restrictions that came with it, community newspapers have also been hit hard.

We are fortunate in Carleton to be among the communities that did not lose our community newspapers during the pandemic. The Manotick Messenger services Manotick, Richmond, North Gower, Kars, Osgoode, Greely and surrounding areas. Its sister publication, the Barrhaven Independent, is distributed in and covers events in Riverside South. The Ottawa Community Voice has a Stittsville edition to cover that community.

While many community newspapers that have come and gone in Ottawa were owned by TorStar, the community newspapers that serve the Carleton riding are locally owned and operated with local residents as staff members.

Bill 73, Supporting Ontario’s Community, Rural and Agricultural Newspapers Act, 2023.

Before the pandemic, there was an obstacle facing newspapers that was hurting their chance of survival. In 2018, Manotick Messenger owner Jeffrey Morris brought this to my attention. He and Orleans Star owner Fred Sherwin had a meeting with me to discuss the situation.

Their newspapers, along with the Ottawa Community Voice, are among the many publications that have used the model of printing every second week. This bi-weekly model has helped many of Ontario’s rural community newspapers remain in business.

Unfortunately, this model works against them in an unfair way. According to the Province of Ontario, the definition of a newspaper includes a clause that the publication must be printed weekly or more frequently. Publishing every second week has resulted in the Community Voice, the Manotick Messenger, the Barrhaven Independent and other bi-weekly and monthly newspapers to fall outside this definition.

The City of Ottawa, for example, is extremely restricted in the type of advertising they can do with our local media. Because our local newspapers don’t fall into the provincial definition of newspapers, the city is not able to use our community newspapers for much of their important messaging and advertising. The same restrictions are in place for all Ontario community newspapers who have switched to bi-weekly or monthly formats in their dealings with their respective municipalities.

This definition also hurts newspapers that are currently published weekly but are wanting to switch to a bi-weekly format but can’t because they are handcuffed to municipal advertising. Including bi-weekly publications within the definition of a newspaper would give them the opportunity to make a change to their publication schedule without jeopardizing that advertising revenue.

Out of these discussions, I introduced Bill 73, Supporting Ontario’s Community, Rural and Agricultural Newspapers Act, 2023. This is a Private Member’s Bill, if passed, would change the definition of a newspaper to include bi-weekly and monthly community newspapers. It unanimously passed its second reading on March 28, 2023. I was very proud to speak to this Bill and the importance of community newspapers in the Legislature. It is my first Private Member’s Bill, and it was a bill that originated in the Carleton riding that will help Ontario’s rural communities.

I was very proud to speak to this, as it is not only my first Private Member’s Bill, and because it was a bill that originated in the Carleton riding that will help the communities in my riding. I would also like to thank the hard work and support of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell MPP Stephane Sarrazin, who spoke on the positive impacts Bill 73 would have in the communities in rural Eastern Ontario.

Our community newspapers not only inform our constituents with hyper local news, profiles and current events, but they also provide a market specific advertising vehicle which helps local businesses advertise to a hyper-local marketplace.

So thank you for reading my column in the Manotick Messenger, something you would not be able to do without community newspapers.

Governments Helping Agri-Food Processing Businesses Lower Costs

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $10 million through the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership (Sustainable CAP) to help food processing businesses increase energy efficiency and lower their costs.

This is of particular interest in Carleton, where agriculture is the largest industry in the riding.

The Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative is a new, cost-share initiative to help food processors lower their costs to be more competitive and sustainable. The focus is on supporting projects that prioritize reducing greenhouse gas emissions by investing in new technology, equipment, as well as building or facility modifications to help achieve this goal.

The Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative was developed following discussions with Ontario’s food manufacturing industry and builds on other actions the government has taken to support the sector, such as the $10 million investment through the Food Security and Supply Chain Fund, $22 million through the Agri-tech Innovation Program and the launch of the $25 million Strategic Agri-Food Processing Fund.

Under the Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative, applicants can receive up to 20 per cent cost share for eligible costs, to a maximum of $300,000, per business. Eligible businesses can apply for support through this initiative starting on April 27, 2023.

The Sustainable CAP will inject up to an estimated $1.77 billion in Ontario’s agri-food industry over the next five years, to strengthen Ontario’s agri-food competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes up to $569M for Sustainable CAP cost-shared strategic initiatives, and an estimated $1.13 billion under Business Risk Management programs for Ontario producers.

Sustainable CAP is a five-year, $3.5-billion investment by federal‐provincial and territorial governments to strengthen competitiveness, innovation, and resiliency of the agriculture, agri‐food and agri‐based products sector. This includes $1 billion in federal programs and activities and $2.5 billion in cost-shared programs and activities by federal, provincial and territorial governments.

Quick Facts

  • The Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative will be delivered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. More details about the initiative and its application process will be available online or can be obtained by calling 1-877-424-1300 later in April.
  • Applications for the Agri-Food Energy Cost Savings Initiative will be received as of April 27, 2023. The final day for submitting an application will be June 5, 2023. Applications will be reviewed based on merit criteria.
  • Sustainable CAP will help enable the goals outlined in Ontario’s Grow Ontario Strategy, which include increasing the production of food by 30 per cent over the next 10 years, growing agri-food exports by eight per cent annually, and to build and maintain world-class research infrastructure.
  • Enhancing sustainability and innovation in Canada’s agri-food sector were among priorities set for Sustainable CAP by the federal-provincial-territorial agricultural ministers in The Guelph Statement.

Office Notice:

My office is open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm. If you require assistance on any matter, please contact me at any time. My staff and I will be happy to assist. Even if it’s not a provincial issue, I’ll make sure to connect you with the proper office.

– Goldie

Your voice at Queen’s Park