December 16, 2014
The Honourable Kathleen Wynne, MPP
Premier of Ontario
Dear Premier Wynne:
I am writing to ask your government to bring accountability and transparency to Ontario chicken prices. Under supply management, producers have full control over the price, but refuse to divulge their secret pricing formula.
In a recent Globe and Mail article entitled “It’s time to ensure Canada’s food pricing formulas are transparent, fair,” Mr. Geri Kamenz of the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission characterized the province’s current chicken pricing formula as “a black box that few people understand,” adding “this is just not good enough for the 21st century.” He also revealed the commission has attempted “to prod farmers for three years now to come up with a fair and transparent pricing scheme.” This outdated production framework harms business and consumers alike by artificially raising the price of chicken.
Waiting three years for chicken farmers to publish a simple and forthright price formula for a food staple many Ontario families put on their dinner table every night is simply not acceptable. Nor is it acceptable that the vested interest with the greatest stake in the price set for chicken, the producers themselves, should be in charge of the price-setting program.
Ontario consumers need to be assured they are paying a fair price for their food, including that locally produced. For the benefit of consumers, and our industry that serves 7.5 million Ontarians every day, we call on the Ontario government to:
- Direct publication immediately of the current cost formula for production of Ontario chicken.
- Ensure that any revisions to the existing price formula are conducted in the open daylight.
- Immediately hand the file to an independent third party — one with no affiliation to the chicken industry — with direction to swiftly complete the price review process that has dragged on for several years. Interested stakeholders such as the Chicken Farmers of Ontario and Restaurants Canada, among others, can then play a useful role as interveners before the established open forum of discussion and debate.
The province’s good governance, promotion of the public interest – and respect for Ontario consumers and families who daily confront rising living costs – demands no less.
Vice President, Ontario