Liberal leadership candidate Dr. Eric Hoskins released his rural platform in his hometown of Simcoe in southwestern Ontario. The plan emphasizes the need for the Ontario Liberal Party to re-connect with and listen to rural Ontarians to regain their trust and provide rural communities with greater economic opportunity.

“For Ontario to be successful, we need a strong rural voice, strong rural communities, and a strong rural economy,” Hoskins said. “My plan is about respecting rural Ontarians, and ensuring that they share in Ontario’s economic growth.”

The plan, called Respect for Rural Ontario, features 25 initiatives to support rural Ontario, including:

• Appointing a Rural Advisor to the Premier and creating a Rural Advisory Committee.
• Launching a Rural Jobs and Economic Development Strategy.
• Developing a strategy to deliver high speed internet throughout rural Ontario.
• Sharing gas tax revenues with rural municipalities to fund transportation infrastructure and creating a Rural Transit Strategy.

“If we’re going to succeed, we need to re-engage with rural Ontarians,” Hoskins added. “That means treating them with respect, listening to them, and making sustained efforts to improve the quality of life in rural communities. Every decision by Queen’s Park needs to be looked at through a rural lens.”

Speaking in praise of Hoskins’s rural platform, former MPP Jim Brownell said: “Eric has a strong interest and certainly understands the issues that impact rural Ontario. He has demonstrated a clear commitment to moving forward in a positive way on the issues that are most important to rural Ontarians.”

Hoskins’s Respect for Rural Ontario plan is the first comprehensive plank in his leadership platform.

“I have chosen to release my rural policy first to underscore the importance that I place on rural Ontario and to highlight the place it holds in my heart. I am the leadership candidate who has deep, sustained roots in rural Ontario, and I am committed to building a strong rural Ontario and a strong rural voice within the Ontario Liberal Party,” said Hoskins.

Click here to read Hoskins’s full rural platform, Respect for Rural Ontario.

The President of the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, Sue Leslie, believes Hoskins platform is a step in the right direction:

“I am happy to see Dr. Hoskins taking a stance on rural issues. The Horse Racing and Breeding Industry has endured countless blows by the current government as they have continued to move forward with plans that will kill our industry and hurt Ontario’s rural economy and traditions” said Leslie.

“We sincerely hope the other candidates will follow suit, and we will be watching closely.”

In his detailed platform, Hoskins says he will ensure the Horse Racing Industry is an “integral part of the provincial gaming strategy” and plans to develop a strong government partnership with the sector. Hoskins also commits to helping rural Ontario through job and education programs, transit strategies, and tax credits for employers hiring rural employees.