Minister's Order: The Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program [0005/2021]

Whereas the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector provides an important economic and social contribution within Ontario;

And whereas the responsibility for agriculture within Ontario is shared between Canada and Ontario and both Canada and Ontario have a long history of collaboration in working toward a prosperous agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector within Ontario;

And whereas the agriculture, agri-food and agri-based products sector is operating in a rapidly changing global environment where demand is rising in response to ever-growing population, rising incomes and increased non-food uses of agricultural products;

And whereas on July 21, 2017, the majority of Ministers responsible for agriculture across Canada endorsed the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, which sets out the broad parameters for the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Framework;

And whereas the intent of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agreement is to achieve a prosperous, sustainable, competitive and innovative agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sector that is market-responsive and that anticipates and adapts to changing circumstances within Canada as a whole;

And whereas Ontario supports the underlying purposes of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agreement;

And whereas Ontario signed the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agreement on January 19, 2018;

And whereas the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Agreement consists of two general overarching themes: (1) the business risk management theme, which is aimed at helping producers mitigate against the inherent risks involved in producing agricultural products; and (2) the non-business risk management theme, which is aimed at promoting the sustainable growth, innovation and competitiveness of the agriculture, agri-foods and agri-products sector;

And whereas section 4 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act provides the Minister with the authority in relation to the administration of laws relating to agriculture, food and rural affairs and all their branches;

And whereas section 6.2 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act provides the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs with the authority to establish programs for the encouragement of agriculture, food and rural affairs within Ontario;

And whereas the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Business Risk Management Theme Program was established as of April 1, 2018 via the Previous Order pursuant to section 6.2 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act;

And whereas on November 27, 2020, Canada proposed the following changes to AgriStability:

  1. Remove the Reference Margin Limit, and
  2. Increase Payment Benefit under AgriStability from 70% to 80%;

And whereas no national consensus has been reached to date on increasing the Payment Benefit under AgriStability from 70% to 80%;

And whereas Ontario believes action is required to increase the Payment Benefit to Participants under AgriStability so AgriStability is more responsive to meet the needs of Ontario's farmers, especially given the uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic and is therefore prepared to provide its share of an increase to the Payment Benefit available under AgriStability as a means of supporting Ontario's agri-food and agri-products sectors in dealing with the acute and critical issues related to the COVID-19 Pandemic;

And whereas I, the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, am of the opinion that a "top-up" program should be established for the betterment of agriculture, food and rural affairs in Ontario;

Now therefore, and pursuant to my authority under sections 4 and 6.2 of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Act, the program known as the

The Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

is hereby established for the encouragement of agriculture, food and rural affairs within Ontario, as set out within this Order.

Part I - Interpretation

Interpretation

  1. For the purposes of interpreting this Order:
    1. Words in the singular include the plural and vice versa;
    2. Words in one gender include all genders;
    3. The headings do not form part of this Order - they are for reference purposes only and will not affect the interpretation of this Order;
    4. Any reference to dollars or currency in this Order will be to Canadian dollars and currency;
    5. Any reference to a statute means a statute of the Province of Ontario, unless otherwise indicated;
    6. Any reference to a statute is to that statute and to the regulations made pursuant to that statute as they may be amended from time to time and to any statute or regulations that may be passed that have the effect of supplanting or superseding that statute or regulation unless a provision of this Order provides otherwise; and
    7. The words "include", "includes" and "including" denote that the subsequent list is not exhaustive.

Definitions

  1. For the purposes of this Order, the terms below will have the following meanings:

    "Administrator" means the Person responsible for delivering the Program on behalf of the Program Administrator;

    "Administrator Agreement" means an agreement between Ontario and the Administrator whereby the Administrator agrees to undertake certain work in return for an Administrator Payment.

    "Administrator Payment" means the payment of money to an Administrator to cover the expenses the Administrator incurs pursuant to an Administrator Agreement;

    "AgriStability" means the program continued under Part VIII of the BRM Order;

    "AgriStability Guidelines" means the document entitled Canadian Agricultural Partnership AgriStability Program Guidelines, as may be amended from time to time;

    "BRM Order" means Minister's Order 0004/2018, which established the Canadian Agricultural Partnership Business Risk Management Theme Program as of April 1, 2018, as amended;

    "Business Day" means any working day, Monday to Friday inclusive, but excluding statutory and other holidays on which the Ministry has elected to be closed for business;

    "Canada" means Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, unless the context indicates otherwise;

    "CAPA" means the agreement entitled "Canadian Agricultural Partnership - A Federal-Provincial-Territorial Framework Agreement On Agriculture, Agri-Food and Agri-Based Products Policy";

    "CRA BN" means the business number Canada Revenue Agency issued to the Person pursuant to the Income Tax Act (Canada);

    "FIPPA" means the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act;

    "Fiscal Year" means the period between April 1 of one year and March 31 of the following year;

    "Guidelines" means the written document setting out the requirements, terms and conditions governing the operation of the Program;

    "Minister" means the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, or any such other Minister who may be designated from time to time as the responsible Minister in relation to the Initiative in accordance with the Executive Council Act;

    "Ministry" means the ministry of the Minister;

    "Ontario" means Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, unless the context indicates otherwise;

    "Order" means this Minister's Order, as it may be amended from time to time;

    "Overpayment" means any payment to which a Person is not entitled to receive at the time of the payment or to which the Person ceases to be entitled to receive at any time after the payment was made;

    "Participant" means a Person that has been accepted to participate in AgriStability;

    "Payment Benefit" means the amount a person participating in AgriStability is eligible to receive under AgriStability, as calculated in accordance with the BRM Order and the AgriStability Guidelines;

    "Person" means:

    1. An individual,
    2. A corporation,
    3. A partnership, or
    4. An unincorporated association;

    "Program" means the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program;

    "Program Administrator" means the Assistant Deputy Minister - Policy Division of the Ministry, and includes any acting Assistant Deputy Minister - Policy Division of the Ministry, as well as any successor position;

    "Program Operator" means the Director of Farm Finance Branch - Policy Division of the Ministry, and includes any acting Director of Farm Finance Branch - Policy Division of the Ministry, as well as any successor position;

    "Program Payment" means the direct or indirect provision of funds to a Recipient under the Program;

    "Program Year" means the period for which the Participant files a return under the Income Tax Act (Canada), or for Participants who are not required to file a return under the Income Tax Act (Canada), the calendar year;

    "Recipient" means a Person who receives a Program Payment;

    "Requirements Of Law" means all applicable statutes, regulations, by-laws, ordinances, codes, official plans, rules, Guidelines, approvals, permits, licences, authorizations, orders, decrees, injunctions, directions and agreements, as they may be amended from time to time, with all authorities that now or at any time hereafter may relate to the Applicant/Participant/Recipient's business operations, the Program or both; and

    "SIN" means Social Insurance Number.

Purpose of the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. The purpose of the Program is to help offset losses resulting from factors beyond the control of farmers in Ontario, including those as a result of increased market uncertainty exacerbated by the COVID-19 Pandemic, by providing Ontario's forty percent (40%) share of an increase of ten percent (10%) to the maximum Payment Benefit provided under AgriStability.

Part II - Term of Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Commencement of the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. (1) The Program will commence on the date on which this Order is signed.

    (2) The Program applies to the 2020, 2021 and 2022 Program Years for AgriStability.

Termination of the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. (1) This Program will terminate on the day following the completion of the 2022 Program Year for AgriStability.

    (2) Despite section 5(1) of this Order, the Program will continue as if section 5(1) of this Order did not apply where the calculation of a Program Payment under this Program may be affected by any requests for reviews or final decisions that need to be made under AgriStability.

  2. Despite anything else in this Order, the Program will automatically terminate in the event the Program Administrator is of the opinion there is an insufficient appropriation from the Ontario Legislature or sufficient funding in the budget for the Program for any payment that is to be made under the Program. Where the Program is terminated pursuant to this section 6 of this Order, the following rules will apply:
    1. The Program Administrator will post, or cause to be posted, a notice on the Ministry's website where a copy of this Order is posted setting out the Program has been terminated and the date the Program was terminated;
    2. The Program Administrator will immediately provide notice, or cause notice to be immediately provided, of the termination to any Administrator delivering the Program and cause that Administrator to post a notice on its website setting out the Program has been terminated and the date the Program was terminated; and
    3. Any payments under the Program for which there is no appropriation will not be paid.
  3. Despite anything else in this Order, the Program may be terminated through the issuance of a Minister's Order terminating the Program. Where a Minister's Order is issued terminating the Program, the following rules will apply:
    1. The Program Administrator will post, or cause to be posted, a notice on the Ministry's website where a copy of this Order is posted, along with a copy of the Minister's Order terminating the Program, setting out the Program has been terminated and the date the Program was terminated;
    2. The Program Administrator will immediately provide notice, or cause notice to be immediately provided, of the termination to any Administrator that is delivering all or a part of an Initiative under the Program and cause that Administrator to post a notice on its website indicating the Program has been terminated and the date the Program was terminated; and
    3. Any payments owing under the Program will be paid, unless the Minister's Order terminating the Program provides otherwise.

Part III - Funding for Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. Funding for the Program will be from the monies allocated to the Ministry by the Legislature for the purposes of the Program. The Program Administrator may provide funding or allow funding to be provided to any Person that is contemplated or permitted under the Program. The Program Administrator may also pay for or allow payments to be made for any administrative costs the Program Administrator determines are reasonable or prudent for the administration of the Program.
  2. Funding for the Program will only be used for the Program and the costs to administer the Program.

Part IV - Administration of the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Program Administrator's Authority

  1. The Program Administrator will be responsible for the overall administration of the Program. This includes:
    1. Approving and signing the Guidelines for the Program, including any amendments thereto;
    2. Entering into one or more Administrator Agreements with one or more Administrators; and
    3. Approving anything that needs to be approved under the Program that has not been assigned to the Program Operator.

Program Operator's Authority

  1. (1) The Program Operator will be responsible for the implementation and operation of the Program. This includes:
    1. Establishing standards and procedures for the delivery of the Program;
    2. Monitoring the performance of all aspects of the Program;
    3. Monitoring any Administrator's delivery of the Program; and
    4. Carrying out all other administrative functions required for the successful operation of the Program.

    (2) The Program Operator may allow a Person to continue participating in the Program even if that Person does not meet all the eligibility requirements set out under this Order, provided:

    1. The Person was originally found to be eligible to participate in the Program;
    2. The Person acted in good faith to be found eligible to participate in the Program;
    3. The Person acted in good faith while participating in the Program; and
    4. The Program Operator is of the opinion that not allowing the Person to continue participating in the Program would create an unfair result for that Person.

    (3) The Program Operator may waive any requirement for the Program set out in this Order or the Guidelines, provided the Program Operator is of the opinion that not providing such a waiver would create an unfair result for the Person requesting the waiver.

    (4) The Program Operator may impose conditions on any waiver the Program Operator provides under section 11(3) of this Order.

Administrator

  1. (1) The Program Administrator may enter into an agreement with one or more Administrators.

    (2) If the Program Administrator enters into an agreement with an Administrator, that agreement will include, at a minimum, the following:

    1. The roles and responsibilities of the Program Administrator and the Administrator regarding the delivery of the Program;
    2. The Administrator Payment the Administrator will receive;
    3. Service standards, if any, the Administrator will be required to meet;
    4. Reporting and audit requirements;
    5. Provisions for corrective action to address any events of default by the Administrator; and
    6. Anything else the Program Administrator believes is prudent for the successful delivery of the Program.

    (3) The Program Administrator will not make an Administrative Payment or allow an Administrative Payment to be made to an Administrator unless that Administrator is in compliance with the terms and conditions of this Order and the Administrator Agreement.

Exercise of Administrative Powers

  1. The Program Administrator and the Program Operator have all necessary authority to deliver the Program.

Guidelines

  1. (1) The Program Administrator will create or cause to be created Guidelines for Program. The Guidelines will not conflict with anything contained in this Order. For the purposes of determining whether the Guidelines conflict with this Order, a conflict will exist if the Guidelines provide for something that is prohibited under this Order or if the Guidelines provide that something is not needed which this Order requires.

    (2) Without limiting the Program Administrator's general administrative authority set out in sections 11(1) and 14(1) of this Order, the Program Administrator's authority to create or cause to be created Guidelines for the Program includes the authority to set out, or cause to be set out, the requirements, terms and conditions in the Guidelines in relation to:

    1. Setting out administrative deadlines for the Program in the Guidelines;
    2. Establishing the requirements, terms and conditions for any Program Payments that may be made under the Program in the Guidelines, including:
      1. The methodology in which Program Payments may be calculated,
      2. Caps on any Program Payments,
      3. Minimum Program Payments,
      4. The timing of Program Payments, and
      5. Whether Program Payments can be assigned;
    3. Setting out reporting and audit requirements for Program in the Guidelines that are in addition to what is set out under this Order;
    4. Setting out any review and/or appeal rights that an Applicant or Participant may have under the Program in the Guidelines that are not set out in this Order;
    5. Setting out how documents are to be served under the Program in the Guidelines;
    6. Setting out any requirements for the Program that must be set out in the Guidelines under this Order in the Guidelines; and
    7. Establishing any other requirements, terms or conditions that are reasonably necessary for the successful administration and delivery of the Program in the Guidelines.

    (3) The Program Administrator will:

    1. Post the Guidelines or cause the Guidelines to be posted on the Ministry's website or will require the Guidelines to be posted on a publicly available website; or
    2. Require an Administrator or cause the Administrator to post the Guidelines on that Administrator's website.

    (4) The Guidelines are not required to be posted until after this Order comes into force.

    (5) The Program Administrator may amend the Guidelines. Where the Guidelines are amended, the following will apply:

    1. The amended Guidelines will:
      1. Be posted on the Ministry's website or on another publicly available website, or
      2. Be posted on the website of the Administrator delivering the Program; and
    2. Any changes to the Guideline will not have any retroactive effect.

Part V - Operation of the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Deemed Participation in the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. Subject to sections 16 and 17 of this Order, a participant in AgriStability is deemed to be a Participant of this Program.

Eligibility Requirements for Participation in the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Eligibility Requirements For Participation In The Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program For The 2020 Program Year
  1. (1) To be eligible to participate in the Program for the 2020 Program Year, a Person must:
    1. Have been enrolled in AgriStability prior to December 31, 2020 in accordance with any terms/conditions set out in the BRM Order and AgriStability Guidelines and no later than the date this Order comes into effect;
    2. Have paid the applicable AgriStability fees in accordance with any terms/conditions set out in the BRM Order and AgriStability Guidelines and no later than the date this Order comes into effect; and
    3. Submitted all year-end reporting documents for AgriStability in accordance with any terms/conditions set out in the BRM Order and AgriStability Guidelines.

    (2) In the event a person submitted their year-end reporting documents for AgriStability prior to the date this Order comes into effect, the Administrator will be deemed to have received those documents one day later than the date this Order comes into effect.

    (3) In the event the Administrator has already issued any payment to a participant of AgriStability, the Administrator will adjust that payment to take into account this Order, provided the person participating in AgriStability meets the requirements set out under section 16(1) of this Order and will only be based on year-end reporting documents for AgriStability received after this Order comes into effect.

Eligibility Requirements For Participation in the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program For The 2021 and 2022 Program Years
  1. To be eligible to participate in the Program for the 2021 and 2022 Program Years, a Person must be:
    1. Enrolled in AgriStability and be in compliance with all terms/conditions in the BRM MO and the AgriStability Guidelines; and
    2. In compliance with the terms/conditions of this Order and the Program Guidelines while participating in the Program.

Loss of Eligibility to Participate in the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. A Participant/Recipient will lose their eligibility to participate in the Program if that Participant/Recipient:
    1. Loses their eligibility to participate in AgriStability; or
    2. Fails to comply with the terms/conditions of this Order or the Program Guidelines.

Program Payments under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Eligibility To Receive Payment Under The Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program
  1. (1) To be eligible to receive a Program Payment under the Program, a Participant must be eligible to receive a payment under AgriStability.

    (2) For greater certainty, a Participant will not be eligible to receive a Program Payment under the Program if that Participant is not eligible to receive a payment under AgriStability.

Calculation Of Program Payment
  1. (1) A Program Payment will be calculated by providing Ontario's forty percent (40%) share of an increase of ten percent (10%) to the Payment Benefit a person participating in AgriStability receives under AgriStability.

    (2) The Guidelines will provide at least one fictious example of how a Program Payment will be calculated under the Program. This example will include what the Person would have received under the maximum Payment Benefit available under AgriStability as well as what the Person is eligible to receive as a result of this Program.

General Provisions Regarding Program Payment
  1. Participating in the Program does not create a legal, equitable or other right to receive a Program Payment under the Program.
  2. Any Program Payments a Participant may be eligible to receive under the Program may be pro-rated in the event there are insufficient funds to make full payments under the Program. The Program Operator will determine whether there are sufficient funds as well as any rate of proration that is to be made.
  3. Any Program Payment a Recipient receives under the Program is considered income for the purposes of the Income Tax Act and will be recorded as such.
  4. A Participant/Recipient will not assign any Program Payment that may be issued under the Program to another Person unless the Guidelines authorize such assignment.
  5. Any Program Payment made under the Program is provided in connection with a social or economic policy and that the Initiative is a social or economic program.

Part VI - Collection, Use and Disclosure of Information under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. The collection of personal information, as defined under the FIPPA, is necessary for the proper administration of this Program. The Program Administrator will only collect the minimum personal information necessary to meet the Program's objectives. Applicants/Participants/Recipients will consent to the collection of any personal information, as defined under the FIPPA, that is necessary for the administration of that Initiative.
  2. Applicants/Participants/Recipients will consent to the use and disclosure of any personal information that is collected pursuant to this Order, for the purposes of:
    1. Verifying any information provided;
    2. Confirming the Person who received a Program Payment paid taxes on that Program Payment;
    3. Conducting audits;
    4. Enforcing the terms and conditions of the Program;
    5. Collecting any debt a Person may owe to the Crown arising:
      1. Prior to the Initiative, or
      2. From the Initiative; and
    6. Any other use and disclosure set out in the Initiative's Guidelines.
  3. Applications to an Initiative will contain a notice of collection of personal information within the meaning of the FIPPA and require the Applicant to indicate the Applicant consents to the collection of that information as well as for the use and disclosure of that information for the purposes set out under section 27 of this Order.
  4. (1) A Participant participating as a sole proprietor, a partner within a partnership or a member of an unincorporated association authorizes the collection and use of that Participant's SIN where that Participant does not have a CRA BN and that Participant is eligible to receive a Program Payment under the Initiative.

    (2) Where it is necessary to collect a Participant's SIN under the Program that Participant's SIN will only be used for the purposes set out under sections 27(b), (c), (d) and (e) of this Order.

    (3) Where it is necessary to collect a Participant's SIN, that Participant consents to the use and disclosure of that Participant's SIN to any government department/ministry, agency or third party for the purposes set out under sections 27(b), (c), (d) and (e) of this Order.

  5. Any Person who receives a Program Payment under the Program will provide any information that is requested within ten (10) Business Days of the request unless the request for information contains a different deadline, in which case the information will be provided in accordance with that request for information.
  6. (1) Any Person who receives a Program Payment will authorize the collection of information, including personal information, as defined under the FIPPA, from any government department/ministry, agency or third party for the purposes of verifying any information the Person provided as well as for the enforcement, if applicable, of the terms and conditions of the Initiative.

    (2) Any Person who receives a Program Payment will consent to the use of and disclosure of any information, including personal information, as defined under the FIPPA, collected under an Initiative to any government department/ministry, agency or third party for the purposes of verifying any information the Person provided as well as for the enforcement, if applicable, of the terms and conditions of the Initiative.

    (3) When collecting, using and disclosing information under this Part VI of the Order, personal information, as defined under the FIPPA, will not be collected, used or disclosed if the purpose for collecting, using or disclosing such information can be obtained by using non-personal information.

Part VII - Audits under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. Any Person who receives a Program Payment under the Program will consent to any audits that may be conducted in relation to the Program. Any such audit may be conducted upon giving the Person who received the Program Payment a minimum of twenty-four (24) hours' notice during normal business hours.
  2. Any Person who receives, directly or indirectly, a Program Payment will provide reasonable assistance during any audit. This includes:
    1. Allowing access to any person, place or thing required for auditing purposes within ten (10) Business Days of the request being made for access to that person, place or thing unless the request or access to that person, place or thing contains a different deadline, in which case access to the person, place or thing will be provided in accordance with that request for access to the person, place or thing.
    2. Allowing for the inspection of any records that relate to the Program Payment;
    3. The taking of pictures or other recordings; and
    4. Allowing for the copying of any records that relate to the Program Payment into as well as the removal of any copied documents from the premises of the person that received the Program Payment.
  3. The Guidelines for the Program will contain a notice about the audit rights set out under this Part VII of the Order and every Participant who receives a Program Payment is deemed to accept the auditing provisions set out in this Order.

Part VIII - Collection of Debts under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

Collection of Existing Debts owed to the Crown under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. (1) Any Program Payment a Person may receive may be set-off against any existing debt that Person may owe to the Crown.

    (2) The right of set-off provided under section 35(1) of this Order is in additional to any other remedies the Crown may have at law, in equity or otherwise to recover any debt a Person may owe to the Crown.

Collection of Debts from Recipients arising under the Ontario AgriStability Top Up Program

  1. Any Person who receives an Overpayment owes a debt to the Crown.
  2. The Program Administrator will use, or caused to be used, reasonable efforts to collect a debt arising from a Person receiving an Overpayment.
  3. The termination of the Program will not, in any way, affect any Person's obligation for repaying any Overpayment to the Crown.
  4. (1) Any Person who receives an Overpayment agrees the Crown may set-off that debt against any other payments the Crown may owe to that Person.

    (2) The right of set-off provided under section 39(1) of this Order to collect on any debts arising under the Program is in additional to any other remedies the Crown may have at law, in equity or otherwise to recover any debt a Person may owe to the Crown.

This Order comes into effect on upon being signed.

Original signed by

The Honourable Lisa Thompson
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Executed on this 27th day of July, 2021.


For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca