Statement from Minister Sousa in response to the release of the Auditor General’s Special Report on OLG Modernization
I’d like to thank the Auditor for her work in developing this report and its suggestions as we continue to roll out the OLG Modernization plan.
OLG Modernization is a bold plan to bring the province’s gaming strategy into the 21st Century to promote jobs and growth across the Province.
While she highlights some areas where we could have done better…the Auditor General credits Premier Wynne for making important changes to the OLG modernization plan, like implementing a fair and transparent casino hosting fee formula, and horse racing transition assistance.
The AG states OLG’s procurement processes to date have been fair, open, and transparent.
And she credits us for taking a number or steps to prevent and mitigate problem gambling.
The plan was designed in 2012 in response to declining OLG revenues and the need for capital investment to maintain the OLG’s footing.
Modernization set out to increase the OLG dividend to the Province, engage private operators in gaming facilities, and ensure that proper capital investments are made.
When the plan was initially determined, ambitious revenue targets and implementation timelines were set to develop a strategy that best fit the conditions at the time. The risks to implementation and the flexibility of the plan were recognized from the outset.
As we move forward, the OLG is ensuring that the Modernization Plan remains flexible so that implementation is done effectively and is best suited to the needs of communities.
And we are continuing to move forward on it.
In fact, last week we issued the first RFP for land-based gaming.
We have also shown a consistent drive to ensure a new path forward for Ontario’s horse racing industry.
That’s why our government immediately acted upon the recommendations of the Horse Racing transition panel to provide $500 million over five years to support the industry and provide new opportunities for growth.
We’ve also integrated horse racing into our gaming strategy, to ensure it is core to our modernization of the lottery and gaming system in Ontario.
However, we cannot return to the unaccountable that program that the previous PC government created. The Horse Racing Transition panel made clear in their final report that the SARP program lacked transparency and did not focus on what matters; growing the industry.
We have been clear, we believe in a sustainable future for the industry, but the PC government’s Slots At Race Track Program was unaccountable and lacked transparency.
This is exactly why our government cancelled the program, and moved forward with a new plan to support the industry towards a vibrant future.
The central principle of the Modernization Plan is municipal engagement and decision making. The 2012 policy strategy was designed and continues to be an ongoing consultation with municipalities and stakeholders.
We remain committed to attracting new investments in jobs, regional economic development, and maximizing the return from the OLG to the Province.
And that includes OLG’s Sault Ste. Marie Office. It continues to be critical to the success of the lottery and gaming business in Ontario.
These jobs are important for OLG and for the city and we will continue to develop ways to ensure OLG’s office and staff in Sault. Ste. Marie will continue to play a key role.
Both myself and Premier Wynne have been clear that there are no plans to move OLG jobs from Sault Ste. Marie, and that we are committed to keeping OLG jobs in the community.
The OLG will continue to implement the Modernization strategy under the leadership of the new Chair Phil Ollson and Board appointed in 2013.
UPDATE: Sault M.P. Orazietti Issues Statement