Manitoba may follow other provinces, most recently Saskatchewan and British Columbia, in administering the AgriStability program alone.
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives will consider whether to assume full administration for the federal-provincial program instead of having Ottawa run it, said MAFRI Minister Rosann Wowchuk.
“If we were going to do it, we would have to review it and look at the cost benefit of doing something like this and delivering it ourselves. We have not done that yet,” Wowchuk said.
“We will do our review and make a determination as to what would be the best for our producers. Right now we’re staying with the system that we have.”
Wowchuk made her comments after Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada staff in Winnipeg and Regina last week received layoff notices as a result of decisions by Saskatchewan and British Columbia to administer AgriStability themselves.
An est imated 440 AAFC employees in the Farm Income Programs Directorate and the Financial Controls and Reporting Division are affected. That includes 360 people in Winnipeg. Some employees will be offered positions in either Saskatchewan or B. C.
When AgriStability was developed under the Growing Forward agriculture policy framework, provinces had the option of administering it themselves or letting Ottawa do it for them.
Currently, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Prince Edward Island administer AgriStability on their own. Saskatchewan announced it would also do so in its October 2008 throne speech. B. C. made its intention known in February 2008.
That leaves Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and the northern territories as regions where AgriStability is administered federally.
But the trend toward provinces doing their own thing could include Manitoba in the future.
There’s a feeling that provinces can offer their farmers a more streamlined and personalized service, government officials say.
For now, however, there’s no change in Manitoba, said Wowchuk.
“Our program will still be delivered as it has been.”
Canada’s agriculture ministers this week will receive a report on an ongoing strategic review of Growing Forward’s business risk management programs at their annual meeting in Niagara-on-the-Lake, [email protected]