She was echoing the sentiments of two Conservative MPPs who this week called the impact study — released on March 14, 2012, two days after the province announced the Slots At Racetracks program was ending — a “sham”.
MPPs Ted Arnott (Wellington-Halton Hills) and Randy Pettapiece (Perth-Wellington) said the study reveals that Premier Dalton McGuinty’s government had already made up its mind to kill the program before it received an economic analysis.
Gélinas told NorthernLife.ca the study downplays the impact ending the slots program would have. She said the study's findings are in opposition to a FedNor-funded study on the northeastern equine industry released in 2006.
“That study was clear — the impact of the horse-racing industry in northeastern Ontario is tremendous,” she said.
Gélinas characterized the FedNor study as an honest attempt to gauge the impact the equine industry in general has on the economy of northeastern Ontario. That study found, while there might be fewer horses involved in racing than in recreational riding and virtually all centred around Greater Sudbury, the racing industry injects far more money into its local economy.
In its study, the Liberal government was only trying to find data to support its decision to end the relationship between the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the racing industry.
“When you compare that to the Liberal study (just released), you don't need to be a scientist to see that they had a goal in mind (of what the study should find,)” she said. “None of it holds water. The Liberal study was half-baked and two days too late.”
Removal of the Slots at Racetracks program would, according to the report, result in job losses of between 3,500 and 5,800 annually. But Arnott points out that the 2004 provincial budget highlighted the 60,000 jobs the Slots At Racetracks program supported, and the $1.1 billion it has provided to the agricultural sector alone since 1998.
In June, the province gave a mandate to a three-member transition panel on the future of the horse-racing industry. The panel’s recommendations are expected on Aug. 17.