Letter to Bonnie Lysyk re: Request for value-for-money audit, Woodbine Entertainment Group

January 5, 2018

Ms. Bonnie Lysyk

Auditor General of Ontario
1530 – 20 Dundas Street West

Toronto ON  M5G 2C2

Re: Request for value-for-money audit, Woodbine Entertainment Group

Dear Ms. Lysyk:

Thank you for your letter of December 20, 2017, in reply to my recent correspondence requesting a value-for-money audit of Woodbine Entertainment Group (WEG). I appreciate your timely response. 

You will recall that Frank L. Roth, counsel for the Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario (HPAO), has also written you on this matter and encouraged you to undertake an audit. 

I would like to reiterate my support for the horse people who breed and race standardbreds, quarter horses and thoroughbreds, many of whom reside in rural Ontario communities. The horse racing industry directly employs thousands of rural Ontarians – not to mention the economic spinoffs. Mr. Roth expressed this well when he wrote:

[The horse racing] industry remains essential for the well-being of the many thousands in the agricultural population of Ontario and, as such, the viability and vitality of horse racing and breeding extends its impact well beyond the acreage surrounding the WEG racetracks.

I am convinced that, if managed properly, the horse racing industry could generate thousands of additional jobs and thereby contribute even more to the rural economy of this province.

The government has already invested large amounts of public money – and rightly so. But every effort must be made to ensure accountability for those dollars so that they reach their intended targets and achieve their anticipated goals.

Further, horse people need and deserve full disclosure about WEG, its activities and its funding. This secretive corporation plays too large a role in their livelihoods to be allowed to continue in its capricious ways without oversight or burden of accountability. 

If a value-for-money audit of the Horse Racing Partnership Program can ensure public dollars are being spent in ways that will best promote the industry, while helping to shed light on WEG and its operations, then I strongly encourage you to undertake it.

For my part, I would be very pleased to forward any further information on this matter that comes to my attention.

Thank you again for your response to my concerns and those of HPAO. I look forward to your decision on a value-for-money audit.


Warren (Smokey) Thomas

President, Ontario Public Service Employees Union

c: The Honourable Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance
The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

               James Whelan, President, Horse Peoples’ Alliance of Ontario

               Frank L. Roth