Some Ontario farms could get minimum wage support, Wynne says

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (r) pledged her support for a positive NAFTA negotiation outcome at the International Plowing Match. (John Greig photo)

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne opened the door to potential support for some farming businesses during a rapid increase to a $15 minimum wage by 2019.

Wynne spoke to reporters on the opening day of the International Plowing Match in Walton Ont., and refused to move on the aggressive timeline for the adoption of a $15 minimum wage. The general minimum wage is currently $11.40 per hour and Wynne has pledged that it will move to $15 by 2019.

That has caused concern in the business community and for farmers, especially those who need large numbers of employees, at low wages, in order to get off a harvest.

The provincial Liberal government’s minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs, Jeff Leal, who answered questions along with Wynne, gave the example of Charlie Stevens of Wilmot Orchards, a Bowmanville-area apple grower.

Leal pointed out that Stevens, who grows Gala apples, competes with farmers growing Gala apples in Chile, Washington state and Mexico and needs to be able to remain competitive.

Wynne acknowledged there have been discussions about the concerns of farmers who pay their employees minimum wage, but also supply housing and transportation, such as to migrant workers.

“I’ve asked Jeff to look at whether there’s something, some supports that can be put in place,” she said. “I’m not sure exactly what those are going to look like, but we recognize that the agriculture community has some challenges that other sectors don’t.

“We know that there need to be some supports put in place during this transition,” she said.

Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Patrick Brown says he’s heard concerns from farmers about the pace of the adoption of minimum wage.

“A lot of the frustration I’ve heard from farmers over this issue is not particularly over $15, it was over giving enough notice, so they can adapt,” said Brown.

In roundtable discussions with farmers, the increase has been a concern, he said, but a lot of the concern was over the lack of time to adjust to having to pay minimum wage workers an increase of close to 30 per cent.

Brown has not objected to a longer-term phase-in of the increase to $15.

New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horvath also supported an increase to $15 as quickly as possible.

The first day of the International Plowing Match attracts many provincial members of the legislature, their staff and the Queen’s Park press corps. For many, it’s their annual trip to visit the rural community.

This year, politicians also had to slog through mud and rain to deliver their agriculture policy messages. The plowing match cancelled its second day, due to muddy and wet conditions, but was scheduled to be open again Wednesday.

— John Greig is a field editor for Glacier FarmMedia based at Ailsa Craig, Ont. Follow him at @jgreig on Twitter.

Patrick Brown
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What’s new is that in 2014, Ball, the maker of all self-sealing lids, started recommending that lids no longer be heated or pre-warmed. They should just be washed prior to use. The gasket ring will work just as well and you avoid the risk of premature softening and spreading which may lead to seal failure. If you’re still boiling your lids, you’ve really fallen behind; boiling lids hasn’t been recommended since 1969! Stop doing so immediately; you’re risking seal failure. Steam canning approved — with conditions Up until 2015, the NCHFP did not endorse steam canning due to lack of research on the exact time, temperature and jar size required to safely can food using steam canning. Thanks to research by the University of Wisconsin those details are now available and the NCHFP now endorses steam canning as long as the proper guidelines (found on its websites) are followed. Steam canning is very similar to water bath canning; there is no pressure involved and is only used for high-acid foods. Instead of using boiling hot water, steam canning uses pure hot steam to flow around the jars and preserve food. Steam canning is faster, more energy efficient and wastes less water. Instant pot and pressure cookers Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot are different than pressure canners. There is insufficient research on the various models of electric pressure cookers to make them a safe pressure-canning tool. Due to the recent surge in popularity, the NCHFP issued an express warning against using electric pressure canners to do pressure canning in 2016. Even manufacturers of electric pressure cookers don’t recommend them for pressure canning. Electric pressure cookers like the Instant Pot can be used for hot water bath canning with high-acid foods. [caption id="attachment_98549" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] x[/caption] Sterilizing jars not always necessary As of 1988, you no longer need to sterilize your jars before filling them IF the processing time for a hot water bath is 10 minutes or longer or if you are pressure canning. For more research-based recommendations, recipes and information visit the National Centre for Home Food Preservation. Canned hot pepper rings Make your own hot pepper slices to top pizza, burgers or sandwiches. 6 c. sliced hot peppers (any variety) 3-1/2 c. vinegar 2 c. water 2 tbsp. pickling or sea salt 2 tbsp. sugar 2 cloves garlic, quartered Using gloves, wash and remove stems, seeds and inner mem- branes of peppers. For extra heat, leave some or all of the seeds and membranes intact. Slice peppers into even 1/4-inch- thick slices. Set aside. Mix vinegar, water, salt and sugar in a non-reactive sauce- pan. Boil for 1 minute. Check jars for cracks, wash with warm soapy water, rinse well and place in canner. Fill canner with water so jars are covered by 2.5 cm (1 inch) water. Heat jars in canner (no need to sterilize). Place 1/4 clove of garlic in each jar and pack with pepper rings. Pour hot vinegar brine over peppers. Remove air bubbles and push peppers underneath pickling liq- uid as much as possible, leaving a 1.2-cm (1/2-inch) headspace. Wipe rim with clean cloth, seal with sealing lid, tighten screw band finger tight and process in hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove from canner and let rest for 24 hours. Remove outer rings and store in pantry for a year. Makes: 8 jam jars (250 ml). Canned applesauce 12 lbs. apples (any variety) 2 c. water Wash apples and remove any leaves. (You do not have to remove the core, peel or stems.) Cut apples into quarters. Add apples and water into large stockpot. Cover and bring to boil. Turn heat to low and simmer until soft and mushy (20-30 minutes) stirring every 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Separate cores, peels, and stems from the sauce with a food mill or by squishing the mix through a strainer. Discard stems and peels. Check jars for cracks, wash with warm soapy water, rinse well and place in canner. Fill canner with water so jars are covered by 2.5 cm (1 inch) water. Heat jars in canner (no need to sterilize). Pour hot applesauce into hot jars leaving 1.2-cm (1/2-inch) headspace. Use a plastic utensil to remove air bubbles and adjust headspace as needed. Wipe rim with clean cloth, seal with sealing lid, tighten screw band finger tight and process in hot water bath. Boil 500-ml (pint) jars for 15 minutes and litre (quart) jars for 20 minutes. Remove from canner and let rest for 24 hours. Remove outer rings and store in pantry for a year. Makes: 4 litres of applesauce [4 x 1-litre jars (quarts) or 8 x 500-ml jars (pints)]

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