Press Release

May 28, 2011

A hidden agenda to help Big Tobacco?

New documents reveal Agriculture Canada intended to sustain tobacco farming, in line with multinational tobacco interests

On at least eleven occasions in 2008 and 2009, the Government proclaimed to the public and to Parliament that the purpose of the $286 million Tobacco Transition Program (TTP) was to help farmers exit the tobacco growing industry.  No other purpose was stated in any of these public communications.

Documents recently obtained by Mr. Ken Rubin under the Access to Information Act (ATI) reveal that there were two additional purposes of the TTP. These were both stated in the February 13, 2009 Funding Agreement between AAFC and the Ontario Flue-Cured Tobacco Growers’ Marketing Board (OFCTGMB), and were:

Significantly, none of the statements of purpose revealed that TTP recipients would be expressly permitted by AAFC to continue to earn money (p. 980) in the tobacco growing business.  Taxpayers were never clearly informed by the Government that over $50 million of their money would end up in 2011 subsidizing about 200 TTP recipients who continue to be involved in tobacco growing.

In 2010, according to documents recently obtained under ATI, AAFC commissioned an audit of the operation of the TTP (pages 924-984).  It focused narrowly on the behaviour of the OFCTGMB and tobacco farmers.

“The AAFC audit does not address the issue of the incomplete information provided to the public by Ministers and the AAFC,” said Neil Collishaw, Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.  “AAFC deliberately constructed a program that, in part, subsidized with public money some TTP beneficiaries who continue to be involved in tobacco growing, to the tune of over $50 million, an issue not addressed by auditing farmers,” he added.

Canada is a Party to the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, an international treaty with 172 Parties. The treaty does require Parties to promote “economically viable alternatives” for tobacco growers.  “It is unfortunate that the government has chosen to provide de facto public subsidies for continued tobacco growing.  It is contrary to the spirit of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control,” concluded Mr. Collishaw. 


For further information: Neil Collishaw, Research Director, PSC, 1 613 233 4878 

Additional documents

Backgrounder:  The Tobacco Transition Program

Audit and Evaluation of Tobacco Transition Program (TTP) Participants.  Submitted by Samson & Associates to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  May 19, 2010.  Pages 924-984.

DM Briefing. Tobacco Transition Program (TTP): Program Objectives, Rules and Audit/Evaluation Results.  2010. Pages 906-923.

MIN-DM Meeting. Tobacco Transition Program (TTP): Program Objectives, Rules and Audit/Evaluation Results.  June 3, 2010. Pages 1106-1117.

Letter of Carol Mitchell of April 29, 2010 to Gerry Ritz and his reply of July 19, 2010. Pages 1739-1741.

Contract for Services with Samson and Associates.  August 9, 2010.  Pages 1340-1344.

Backgrounder: Tobacco is still being grown in Ontario

Fact sheet: Recent trend in tobacco agriculture

January 20, 2010 letter to Gerry Ritz (never answered or acknowledged)

Further documents can be provided on request.