Letters to Editor

Keep Pets Safe this Summer, Do Not Leave Them in Hot Vehicles

Ontario has toughest penalties in Canada for violations

The Ontario government is strongly urging everyone to ensure their pet is not left unattended in a vehicle during the hot summer weather. Temperatures inside a vehicle can quickly become much hotter than the temperature outside even if the windows are opened slightly. This can put pets at risk of serious illness and possibly death. If your pet can't be with you at your destination, leave them at home where they will be safe, cool and comfortable.

"It is critically important to ensure all pets are protected from the potential fatal effects of the hot summer sun," said Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General. "Leaving pets to suffer in a sweltering vehicle will not be tolerated and we have adopted tough new laws to deter this type of reckless behaviour in the province."

Ontario is the first jurisdiction in Canada to implement a full provincial government-based animal welfare enforcement system. The Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act came into effect January 1, 2020 and allows police, First Nations constables and provincial animal welfare inspectors to enter motor vehicles to help pets in distress. The legislation also has the strongest penalties in the country for people who violate animal welfare laws, including causing distress to animals.

If you see an animal in a hot car and are concerned the animal's life is in immediate danger, dial 911. Members of the public should not attempt to enter a vehicle in these situations. 

Quick Facts

Unlike humans, dogs have a very limited ability to sweat. Even a short period in a hot environment can cause suffering and distress, which could result in brain damage or death.

Excessive panting, drooling, listlessness, collapsing or seizures are all examples of visible signs of heat stress in animals. If you witness these signs in your pet, move the animal to a cool area and seek veterinary attention immediately.

Cruelty to any animal is not tolerated in Ontario. If you think an animal is in distress or being abused, call 1-833-9-ANIMAL (264625).

 

Who knows how many businesses will experience financial problems and possibly never reopen?.

Who knows how many people will have lost or may lose their jobs since the COVID 19 virus became a problem in mid March?

If there is anything we can do, many people have been trying to keep venues alive and able to survive.

So it is with the Ontario Association of Agricultural Societies (OASS). As members of our many Ag Societies, the people of Elmvale have not been idle and many of us have sent letters to various members of parliament hoping that something can be done. What follows is our plea.

I am a Director  with the Flos Agricultural Society in Elmvale, Ontario.

Our Agricultural Society prides itself in being resilient, creative, and sustainable., Unfortunately, the harsh reality is the impact of COVID-19 puts the viability of our Agricultural Society at risk and we will need extra support to weather this pandemic. The loss of any Ontario Agricultural Societies will hurt rural economies, agricultural education, and the ability to build public trust in agriculture. It will also hurt the vendors, entertainers and related service providers who support our local fair and events.

 In 2019, at least 3.4 million people visited Ontario Fairs with gate receipts of over $24.4 million. Ontario Ag Society volunteers provided 1.46 million hours of service in support of our fairs.

 The financial impact that COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on Ontario Agricultural Societies will be substantial.  Ontario Agricultural Societies, their Fairs and other events have an estimated local economic impact of between $680 million and $700 million, while their TREIM impact provincially is estimated to be between $360 and $370 million. The loss of that revenue will specifically hurt small rural communities and their economies as well as seasonal businesses. Canadian agricultural societies and their associated fairs and events have an estimated national economic impact of $2.9 billion.  For every dollar, our Agricultural Societies operate with, on average, $4.54 is put into the local economy

Our Agricultural Society is an integral partner and resource in our community. We  provide facilities for seasonal activities such as youth-oriented 4-H programs and achievement days, livestock and horse shows, as well as youth soccer and baseball leagues. Ag education and a strong sense of promoting our rural heritage are two of our Strategic Plan`s pillars.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs currently provides yearly grants to Ontario Agricultural Societies based on the costs to hold their annual fair.  The yearly grant (about $3000) is an assistance to our Agricultural Society, but it will be extremely difficult to qualify for those grants this year as we will not have the eligible expenses that the grants are based on.

Therefore, we are requesting that due to the extreme financial hardship that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced upon our Agricultural Society, that:

The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs allow OMAFRA to use those R.R.O. 1990, REGULATION 16 funds to provide a one time grant to Agricultural Societies that is equal to the average of the last three years grant that was provided to each Agricultural Society. 

We would like to request additional supplementary funding to help our Agricultural Society survive the devastating financial impact due to not being able to hold our traditional fair, Community fund-raising events and our 160th Celebratory Evening, while still paying our non-deferrable bills. Income that covers the fair expenses and year to year costs was impossible to generate this year.

Canadian Fairs and Exhibitions (CAFE) stats indicate that as of the end of June, Ontario Agricultural Societies will have cancelled 1,600 events and lost an estimated $13.7 million in revenue. Final losses will be significantly more as 95% of Ontario Fairs and Exhibitions take place from July to October.

Many other businesses are losing part of their yearly income due to the pandemic.  Our Agricultural Society will be losing 100% of our annual income with no way to recoup those losses. We are expecting a shortfall of over $ 75,000.  

Agricultural Societies and the events at our facilities will be among the last businesses allowed to start earning revenues again due to the fact that by nature, our business activities are mostly founded on large gatherings.  We have had no ability to continue earning revenue even at a reduced scale during the pandemic - there is no option for “curbside’ or online sales with our fair and events. Without supplemental funding to help cover fixed and ongoing expenses i.e. maintain fairgrounds and buildings, it will be difficult for some of our Agricultural Societies to survive.  CAFE has estimated that at least 1 in 10 Ontario Fairs will shut down permanently without some additional funding – that would be an enormous blow to our communities both from an economic as well as a cultural and historic aspect. 

The Flos Agricultural Society was founded in 1860 and with the exception  of one year, when our Arena burned just before fair time, we have held a fair annually – until 2020. Over 100 Volunteers help us to organize and facilitate our Thanksgiving Fair, which has become a homecoming tradition for families. Each year more than 1200 elementary & secondary students participate in our Friday parade. Almost  4000 exhibits were entered last year; everything from quilts to students` artwork to livestock. The Midway has been a favorite with all ages, antique tractor pull for the ``older boys``, and 4-H Achievement programs provided a venue to highlight the members` accomplishments. Annual attendance ranges from 6000 – 9000 fair-goers.

The loss of all of these things this year, will be heart breaking. Our Community is devastated.

I look forward to your response.  Thank you for considering this important matter for our Agricultural Society and our community