2019-2020 Annual Report

Last Updated: 
2020-10-01

Coat of Arms and AGCO logo

Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario
90 Sheppard Ave E., Suite 200
Toronto, ON, M2N 0A4
(416) 326-8700
www.agco.ca
customer.service@agco.ca

ISSN: 1911-9038 (Online)

© Queen’s Printer for Ontario, 2020

Chair’s Message

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

It is my honour and privilege to present the AGCO’s 2019-2020 Annual Report, my first as Chair of the Board of Directors. It was an extraordinary year of accomplishments and challenges, especially in the face of the COVID 19 pandemic at the end of this fiscal year. On behalf of the entire Board, I would like to thank all AGCO staff for their continued agility, adaptability, and dedication to public service. Our priority as a regulator has been to reduce burden, increase business flexibility and consumer choice while supporting the province in its efforts to contain the pandemic. While it comes as no surprise, the agency’s response to the pandemic was swift, responsible, thoughtful and above all, it put people first. I am so proud of the ways in which this organizational value comes to life in our work as a regulator and in a time of crisis.

I would like to recognize and thank outgoing AGCO Chair, Grace Kerr for her excellent leadership and unwavering resilience especially during such a transformative time under her term as Chair. Her long tenure and commitment to the AGCO has made a true and lasting impact.

In June 2019, Dave Forestell was appointed Vice-Chair of the Board.  Dave was first appointed to the Board in December 2018. I look forward to continuing to work with Dave in this capacity and to his valuable contributions to the Board. As well, in February 2020, the Board welcomed two new Board Members: Cara Vaccarino and Douglas McLarty. Cara and Douglas come to the Board with extensive backgrounds in the fields of mental health and finance and we are thrilled to have them join us as they assume the important responsibilities of an AGCO Board member.

In February of this year, the AGCO Board received some significant news, our CEO, Jean Major, informed the Board of his intention to retire in 2020, after 35 years of public service and 16 years at the helm of the AGCO. Under Jean’s leadership, the AGCO completely revolutionized its approach to regulation. He established a culture of burden reduction, industry collaboration and customer service that are now driving principles behind all the agency’s work. This has all been accomplished while ensuring the regulator remained a strong defender of the public interest and a responsible steward of both public and industry funds. On behalf of the AGCO’s Board of Directors and staff, I would like to extend our deep appreciation to Jean and wish him the very best as he embarks on this next chapter.

I am pleased to announce that the AGCO’s Board of Directors has chosen Tom Mungham as the AGCO’s new CEO.  Tom is currently the agency’s Chief Operating Officer. He has been an invaluable member of the AGCO’s C-Suite for the last 14 years and one of the primary architects behind the AGCO’s transformation as a modern regulator. Although the organization’s leadership may be changing, its dedication to government policy, to Ontarians and to the sectors it serves will not.  Under Tom’s leadership, the AGCO will continue to move forward with its ambitious objectives, modernizing all aspects of its regulation, enhancing service to customers, and remaining a responsible employer that attracts and retains the highest caliber talent. The Board looks forward to working with Tom and the rest of the C-Suite and we wish him every success in his new role!

Once again, I would like to thank the AGCO Staff and C-Suite for their outstanding work and achievements in the 2019-2020 fiscal year. I am delighted to be part of such an innovative, talented and caring community of public servants and I look forward to seeing all we will achieve next.

Lalit Aggarwal
Chair

Chief Executive Officer’s Message

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Meeting the needs of the sectors we regulate through modern regulation, service excellence and a people first approach

In so many ways, 2019–2020 was a momentous year for the AGCO. It was a year that began with several noteworthy achievements as the agency boldly advanced its ambitious strategic plan.

As the fourth fiscal quarter ended, we, like the rest of the world, refocused our efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. From seamlessly moving to remote work to providing responsive, frontline service to championing rapid regulatory changes, our response to this crisis accelerated the changes we were already leading to modernize the organization and transform our regulatory frameworks. I am proud with how our agency – and of course our staff – responded so quickly and effectively to help the sectors we regulate. Everyone at the AGCO was so genuinely concerned for, and attentive to, the individuals, families, businesses, and communities affected by this pandemic. We remained committed to supporting the provincial government with its greater public health objectives, while focused on doing our best to make life safer and easier for our customers and employees.

Our ability to respond so quickly to the pandemic was in large part due to the multi-year, transformative journey we began several years ago. We have been strategic and deliberate in our efforts to revolutionize our approach to regulation, foster a modern workplace, and put Ontarians first in all we do. The renewed strategic priorities we confirmed earlier in the fiscal year sum it up: Modern Regulator, Service Excellence and People First. This direction proved particularly useful in guiding our response to the pandemic and focusing our efforts to meet the needs of the sectors we regulate as they reopen and operate within the new economy.

However, this past fiscal year was not all about the pandemic. It began with many important achievements, including the opening of the province’s first 10 cannabis retail stores on April 1, 2019. This milestone was the culmination of our efforts of the previous year, working collaboratively with the provincial government to implement the legislation and regulations for private cannabis retail, as well as establish a set of regulatory standards to guide these new operators. The licensing of cannabis stores continued throughout the year, including through a second allocation process in August 2019. In December 2019, the government announced the move to an open market and in January 2020, the AGCO began accepting and processing applications for retail operator licences from all comers.

As part of our ongoing commitment to modernize the charitable gaming sector, we introduced new options for charities to seed or guarantee prizes for Catch the Ace progressive raffles. We worked collaboratively with the Ontario Charitable Gaming Association and Break Open Ticket Program Management Alliance to approve two new break open ticket types that would help eligible charitable and religious organizations raise funds to support their charitable purposes.

In the horse racing sector, the health and safety of all horse racing participants – both equine and human – remained a top priority for the AGCO. Several horse racing welfare and integrity reforms were implemented in 2019-2020, including a ban on the use of race day medications and a concussion protocol pilot for jockeys at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks. Revised rules on urging horses in Standardbred, Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing were also introduced this year. These reforms are designed to preserve and enhance the integrity of the sport, the welfare of the horse, the safety of its participants, and to safeguard and protect the interests of the betting public and the public at large.

Pressing ahead with our Digital by Default strategy to support our modern regulatory approach, we continued the rollout of our iAGCO online portal with the launch of services for horse racing this year. This allows these sector participants to join our other licensees and registrants in conducting all of their transactions with the agency online, anytime and from anywhere.

Combining the AGCO’s digital service offerings with our risk-based licensing approach has also allowed us to reduce wait times for many customers. As of March 31, 2020, 42% of liquor licences and authorizations, 59% of gaming applications and 95% of Special Occasion Permit applications have been automatically issued or automatically renewed to low-risk applicants. With each auto-issue and auto-renewal, Ontarians are avoiding red tape and getting faster service.

The AGCO also continued to focus on driving value and efficiencies. The broad-based, red tape burden reduction work of our Value Task Force helped us continue to reimagine our processes, programs and policies both organizationally and for the industries we regulate. We strengthened our customer service and stakeholder engagement efforts by continuing to be attentive and responsive to the needs of our stakeholders. And we enhanced our regulatory intelligence and data analytic capabilities to efficiently target the areas of highest risk to public confidence and safety in the industries that we regulate. We also identified top regulatory reform opportunities across all of our business lines while bringing social responsibility to the forefront of our work.

The AGCO has been very fortunate to have long-standing stability at the C-Suite level, with each member of the executive team being central to our evolution as an organization. This year, a number of our key executives announced their retirement plans for 2020. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the years of remarkable service of Chief Administrative Officer, Teresa Tedesco, and Director, Legal Services and General Counsel, Craig Slater.

In February of this year, after 16 years at the helm of the AGCO, I too advised the Board of Directors of my intention to retire in 2020. It has been a privilege to lead this organization and I’m proud of all we have accomplished together for the people and businesses of Ontario. Changes in leadership are an inevitable part of any organization. New leaders will bring fresh perspectives and different approaches, and I have the utmost confidence that the AGCO’s modernization journey will continue to benefit Ontarians and every sector we regulate. 

Jean Major
Chief Executive Officer

Board of Directors

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996 constitutes the AGCO as a corporation without share capital and requires that it have a Board of Directors of at least five members. Board members are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council, through Order-in-Council.

The Board is responsible for the overall governance of the AGCO and meets regularly. In exercising its governance functions, the Board sets goals and develops policy and strategic directions for the Commission to fulfill its mandate; this includes working with the Chief Executive Officer and Senior Management on regulatory, governance, and corporate governance activities.

The list below reflects the members of the Board who served during the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, including their original appointment dates.

Total per diems of all appointees for 2019–2020: $121,263.76

Member

Title

2019–20 Per Diem Payments

Lalit Aggarwal

Chair

$ 36,793.00

S. Grace Kerr

Former Chair

$ 20,392.96

David Forestell

Vice-Chair

$ 17,629.43

Cara Vaccarino

Member

$ 1,652.00

Douglas McLarty

Member

$ 944.00

Eric Anthony Williams

Member

$ 15,664.16

Elmer Buchanan

Member

$ 16,866.57

Philip Leong

Member

$ 11,321.64

Total

 

$ 121,263.76

S. GRACE KERR

Former Chair (Part-time)

First Appointed to Board

July 2007

Appointed Interim Vice-Chair (Part-time)

June 2013

Appointed Vice-Chair (Part-time)

December 2013

Acting Chair (Part-time)

February 2017

Appointed Chair (Part-time)

May 2017

Term Expired

May 2019

LALIT AGGARWAL

Chair (Part-time)

First Appointed to Board

June 2019

Term Expires

June 2020

 

ELMER BUCHANAN

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

July 2015

Term Expires

July 2020

DAVE FORESTELL

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

December 2018

Term Expires

December 2019

Appointed Vice-Chair (Part-time)

June 2019

Term Expires

June 2020

PHILIP LEONG

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

January 2019

Term Expires

July 2020

 

DOUGLAS MCLARTY

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

February 2020

Term Expires

February 2022

 

CARA VACCARINO

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

February 2020

Term Expires

February 2022

 

ERIC ANTHONY CLEAR (TONY) WILLIAMS

Member (Part-time)

First Appointed

July 2015

Term Expires

July 2020

 

 

 

AGCO’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Delivering Priority Services

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGCO demonstrated its strong commitment to reducing burden and increasing both business flexibility and consumer choice. This included maintaining and adapting its services in support of the businesses and Ontarians that rely on our activities. The AGCO automatically extended the term of all active liquor, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis licences, authorizations and registrations. It also relaxed administrative requirements and amended liquor retail hours and delivery rules to ameliorate the impact of the pandemic on the business community and broader public.

The AGCO continued its compliance monitoring activities and licensing, registration, and customer services during the pandemic. Cannabis store retailers acknowledged the AGCO for its quick transition to virtual inspections, crediting the move as being key to increasing the number of legal stores in the province.

In addition, the AGCO temporarily permitted liquor sales licensees to sell liquor for takeout or delivery along with food, continued to accept applications for Special Occasion Permits (SOP), and issued refunds for application fees to SOP holders conducting an event where more than five (5) people were expected to attend.

The AGCO provided options for charitable lotteries during the COVID-19 pandemic, including flexibility in the application of the terms and conditions attached to current lottery licences. We also actively reviewed Ontario’s horse racing rules and regulations to ensure responsible measures were taken, and temporarily halted breathalyzer testing due to COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic challenged the agency to lead change from within, transform its regulatory frameworks, and respond quickly and effectively with new measures to address rapidly evolving issues. The AGCO’s ability to respond quickly was largely due to its multi-year transformative journey to become a Better, Faster, Smarter agency, which is revolutionizing its approach to regulation, fostering a modern workplace, and putting Ontarians first. The AGCO’s renewed strategic priorities proved particularly useful in guiding its response to the pandemic and meeting the needs of the sectors it regulates.

About the AGCO

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Overview

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Vision

A world-class regulator that is innovative, proactive, and socially responsible.

Mandate

To regulate in accordance with the principles of honesty and integrity, and in the public interest.

Mission

The AGCO commits to conducting business in a manner that will:

  • develop, implement, and enforce fair policies and procedures;
  • establish a framework of critical regulatory controls in the public interest that are sensitive to the economic viability of the alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis industries;
  • be client focused in the way we respond to and manage client and stakeholder needs;
  • educate clients and stakeholders and develop partnerships;
  • create a supportive work environment that respects and values the contributions of AGCO staff and provides them with opportunities for growth and professional achievement.

Governing Legislation

Alcohol, Cannabis and Gaming Regulation and Public Protection Act, 1996, Regulations (141/01; 469/18)

Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 (CLA), Regulation 468/18

Gaming Control Act, 1992 (GCA), Regulation (78/12)

Liquor Licence Act (LLA), Regulations (58/00; 718/90; 719/90; 720/90; 70/09; 783/94; 389/91)

Wine Content and Labelling Act, 2000, Regulation (659/00)

Liquor Control Act (LCA), Section 3(1)b, e, f, g and 3(2)a Ontario Regulation 232/16

Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015 (HRLA), Regulation 61/16

Order-in-Council 1413/08

Social Responsibility: Evolving Social Attitudes

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

With the evolving views of society and to better reflect the maturity of the industries it regulates, the AGCO continues to refine its role in the promotion of social responsibility in the alcohol, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis sectors.

A focus on responsible gambling is a key factor in the public’s confidence in the gaming industry. The changing views of the liquor industry place a greater emphasis on responsible use and enjoyment. Public interest in the wellbeing of racehorses spotlights our ongoing commitment to the integrity and safety of horse racing. With the legalization of cannabis, the AGCO works to ensure that the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario is carried out with honesty, integrity, and in the public interest.

Social responsibility is an integral part of the AGCO as an organization and as a regulator. In 2018, the AGCO began work to formalize its vision for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to further embed it into the cultural fabric of the agency and to ensure CSR considerations are taken into account in regulatory and operational decisions. CSR encapsulates a range of initiatives at the AGCO that focus on supporting people, both internally and externally, reducing environmental impacts, and leading by example. In the end, CSR helps provide the AGCO and its employees a sense of purpose and motivation, and ultimately drives them to become Better, Faster, Smarter.

The AGCO’s Changing Public Profile

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO places a priority on digital and enhanced communications to inform and engage with audiences, based on its Digital by Default approach. Over this past year, under the spotlight of significant interest in the regulation of recreational cannabis, the AGCO had a unique opportunity to reinforce its communications commitment of sustaining the agency’s reputation by expanding its website content, amplifying its social media presence, proactively engaging with media and taking a direct communication approach with licensees.  

AGCO Website

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Overall traffic to the AGCO website increased by 19% during fiscal year 2019–2020 compared to the previous year, due in large part to the public attention surrounding the second allocation of cannabis retail stores (in Q2) as well as the opening of the cannabis retail market to the public (beginning in Q4). During these peak periods, website visits increased more than tenfold, increasing from an average of 2,000 to over 29,000 per day in August and 24,500 per day in March.

Social Media

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGGO has continued to increase its outreach on social media in response to sustained interest in cannabis regulation and licensing. Users directly engaged with the AGCO’s tweets over 16,700 times in 2019–2020 through liking, sharing, or replying. Peak periods were closely aligned with major milestones and announcements, such as the results of the second allocation lottery and the opening of the public market for cannabis retail licensing. The AGCO received over 300 mentions on Twitter in a single day after the announcement of the second allocation lottery results, compared to just 400 mentions during the entire 2016–2017 fiscal year. Social media posts during these peak periods commonly reached more than double the usual audience size.

Email Distribution List

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO sent 31 direct emails to subscribers of its cannabis distribution list in both official languages. By the end of fiscal year 2019–2020 the list had grown to over 14,000 subscribers, an increase of approximately 3000 over the previous fiscal year. Messages initially focused on providing updates about the application status of those selected in the first expression of interest lottery but later provided important details about the second allocation lottery and open market licensing. Most of these emails continued to have open rates of over 50%, well above the government benchmark average open rate of 26.5%.

AGCO Media Requests

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Working with media outlets to share information continued to be a priority over the year. The significant increase in media inquiries during August 2019 was due to the second allocation lottery.

TABLE 1 – Media Requests by Month

 

2018–2019

2019–2020

Percentage Change

April

8

51

+537.5%

May

19

33

+73.6%

June

10

17

+70%

July

7

37

+428.5%

August

4

104

+2500%

September

8

37

+362.5%

October

11

28

+154.5%

November

12

16

+33.3%

December

24

21

-12.5%

January

115

29

-74.7%

February

52

33

-36.5%

March

96

29

-69.7%

Total

366

435

+18.8%

Corporate Structure

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO’s organizational structure is based on functional responsibilities and consists of six divisions, each led by a member of the Executive Committee that reports directly to the Chief Executive Officer and Registrar.

The Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) functions as an Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Bureau assigned to the AGCO, and is headed by a Chief Superintendent of the OPP. The IEB is responsible for regulatory and criminal investigations, as well as sharing its expertise and information with external law enforcement and other regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies.

FIGURE 1 – Organizational Structure of the AGCOAGCO Corporate Structure Annual Report 2019-2020

Organizational Structure of the AGCO

  • Chair and Board of the AGCO                ■    Horse Racing Appeal Panel
    • Chief Executive Officer and Registrar
  • Communications and Corporate Affairs Division
    • ​Communications
    • Corporate Affairs and Governance
    • Corporate Secretariat
    • HRAP Secretariat
    • Service Strategy and Experience
  • Corporate Services Division
    • Finance and Administration
    • Human Resources
    • Information Technology
    • Risk Management, Internal Audit and Information Security
    • AGCO Next
  • Investigation and Enforcement Bureau
    • ​Investigations
    • Intelligence and Investigative Support
  • Legal Services Division
    • ​Litigation Services
    • Corporate Services
    • Advisory Services and Legal Drafting
  • Operations Division
    • ​Compliance Services
      • ​Audit and Financial Investigations
      • Regulatory Compliance
    • Licensing and Registration
      • ​Regulatory Assurance
      • Technical and Laboratory Services
  • Strategy and Policy Division
    • ​Change Management
    • Policy and Planning
    • Project Management Office
    • Strategic Engagement
    • Regulatory Intelligence and Innovation

 

Brief Description of Corporate Structure and Function of AGCO Divisions

Operations Division

Through its Licensing and Registration Branch, the Operations Division is responsible for reviewing and processing all application types including licences, permits, authorizations and registrations across all the lines of business regulated by the AGCO. The Branch also works with municipalities and First Nations overseeing the licensing of charitable lottery schemes.

The Division also includes Compliance Services (CS), which consists of the Audit and Financial Investigations Branch and the Regulatory Compliance Branch. These branches conduct regulatory compliance activities, including education, planning, and inspections, along with audits and financial investigations across all lines of business. Equipping frontline staff with the knowledge and skills to deliver services to all sectors, CS deploys regional, cross-functional teams who take a comprehensive, risk- and outcomes-based approach to regulatory compliance. Inspectors respond to compliance concerns when and where they occur, taking a multi-sector approach and maintaining a focus on supporting desired regulatory outcomes.

The Regulatory Compliance Branch also provides Racing Officials (Judges and Stewards), who supervise horse races conducted at Ontario’s licensed racetracks, as well as Veterinary Services, which oversee the health and welfare of horses during racing. Veterinary Services work with the Official Veterinarians, who are employed by the racetracks but supervised by the AGCO.

The Division’s Technical and Laboratory Services staff assess and approve electronic games, systems and equipment against Ontario Technical Standards and assess supplier and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) quality assurance and testing procedures.

The Regulatory Assurance Branch leads the development and implementation of tools, strategies, and frameworks that assess risk and drive the AGCO’s compliance-focused approach. The RAB also works with the Province’s cannabis retail store operators and the Ontario Cannabis Store to ensure the accurate tracking of all cannabis.

Strategy and Policy Division

The Strategy and Policy Division coordinates and supports a variety of strategic functions and informs regulatory direction through evidence-based policy making. Through the use of leading practices, it helps to ensure that major projects stay on track and outcomes are aligned to strategic goals. The Division implements a change management framework for the agency and supports the AGCO’s strategic goal of being a rewarding workplace. This Division also provides leadership for the execution of a dedicated, strategic approach to stakeholder engagement and for the development of the AGCO’s Strategic and Corporate Plans.

Corporate Services Division

The Corporate Services Division provides strategic advice and guidance and is responsible for providing key support services such as Human Resources (including Labour Relations and Collective Bargaining), Information Technology, Finance and Administration, Information Security, Internal Audit, and Enterprise Risk Management.

Communications and Corporate Affairs Division

The Communications and Corporate Affairs Division provides strategic communications advice and services, manages media relations and the AGCO’s public reputation, and oversees the development of internal and external communication materials and publications. It builds understanding and acceptance of organizational objectives and policy priorities through regular communication with staff and stakeholders. It also serves as the primary liaison with government to support government initiatives and to manage issues.

The Division also includes the Service Strategy and Experience Branch, which is tasked with building upon and institutionalizing the objectives established by the agency’s Service Experience 2020 initiative. The Branch continues to focus on enhancing the AGCO’s service to its customers across all lines of business and at every agency touchpoint.

The Corporate Secretariat responsible for Board support resides within this Division and assists the Board of Directors in fulfilling its governance responsibilities. This includes ensuring that key corporate accountability measures are completed within government timelines and monitoring compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between government and the AGCO. A dedicated and segregated unit also provides administrative support to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP or Panel).

Investigation and Enforcement Bureau

The OPP Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) assigned to the AGCO employs approximately 160 OPP Officers, fully integrated within the AGCO. The OPP Superintendent (Director) and two Inspectors (Deputy Directors) report directly to the Chief Superintendent. The Bureau’s branches conduct investigations across all lines of business regulated by the AGCO. The Bureau also provides investigative expertise to and shares information with other law enforcement services and regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies to ensure integrity and public safety within these regulated industries.

Legal Services Division

The Legal Services Division provides a broad range of legal services. It reviews Notices of Proposal (NOPs), provides advice and opinions to AGCO staff on corporate issues (such as privacy and freedom of information requests), drafts legislation and contracts, and assists in policy development. Counsel represent the Registrar at hearings before the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) and the HRAP and prepare appeals to the Divisional Court and the Court of Appeal.

FIGURE 2 – AGCO Licensees and Registrants (2019–2020)

agco-licensees-and-registrants-2019-2020.jpg

  • Total Licensees and Registrants: 61,394
  • Gaming and Lottery Registrants: 29,318 (48%)
  • Alcohol Industry / Licensees: 20,276 (33%)
  • Horse Racing Licensees: 11,091 (18%)
  • Cannabis: 709 (1%)

Approximately 58,600 Special Occasion Permits were issued by the AGCO in 2019–2020.

Strategic Direction

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO is guided by a Strategic Plan that positions the agency to be an effective and modern regulator through an increasingly complex operating environment. Serving as a compass, the plan helps the AGCO to strategically navigate the challenges and opportunities that exist within the liquor, gaming, horse racing, and cannabis retail sectors.

The Strategic Plan focuses on three strategic goals: Modern Regulator, Service Excellence, and People First. Characterized by a set of key commitments that drive AGCO’s culture and inform decision-making, these goals align with, and support the achievement of, government objectives to:

  • enhance accountability and efficiency in the delivery of public services;
  • use evidence-based decision making and policy development;
  • reduce the administrative burden on businesses; and
  • increase consumer choice.

agco-strategic-plan2019-2020.jpg

Strategic Plan

Vision: A world class regulator that is innovative, proactive, and socially responsive.

Mandate: To regulate in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity, and in the public interest.

Our Strategic Goals Our Key Commitments
Modern Regulator
  • Risk-based, outcomes-based, compliance focused
  • Strategy-driven
  • Evidence-based
  • Digital-first mindset
Service Excellence
  • Reduce regulatory burden
  • Value for money
  • Support innovation and consumer choice
  • Customer-centred and responsive
People First
  • Culture of accountability and trust
  • Empower people and foster growth
  • Outcomes-based and coaching -oriented leadership
  • Progressive, flexible and inclusive

During 2019–2020, the AGCO made significant progress towards achieving its strategic goals, with all divisions contributing to efforts to keep the agency moving forward, as a Modern Regulator, providing Service Excellence to all stakeholders, and striving to be an organization that puts People First. Here are some of the highlights.

1. Modern Regulator

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30
  • The AGCO supported the Government of Ontario in the regulation of legal, recreational cannabis by streamlining data collection from operators through a finalized MOU with the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) for data gathering and sharing.
  • The AGCO held a series of technical consultations to further the government’s spring 2019 budget commitment to establish a competitive market for internet gaming in Ontario.
  • Working collaboratively with the OLG to support the provincial government’s gaming modernization strategy, the AGCO helped to transition new Casino Operators and support key components of the OLG Player Platform and Lottery Modernization Strategy.
  • The AGCO launched the charitable gaming modernization initiative, which focuses on reforming charitable gaming regulation to align with the AGCO’s modern regulatory approach.
  • The AGCO implemented changes announced by government to remove the administrative fee for Break Open Tickets, which resulted in additional funding available for charitable organizations.
  • Significant work was undertaken to streamline forms and reduce administrative burden and red tape for applicants in preparation for the implementation of iAGCO online services for charitable gaming licensees.
  • As part of the Moving Ahead: Horse Racing Regulation in Ontario project, the AGCO implemented several welfare and integrity reforms in April 2019, including a ban on the use of race day medications for racehorses, revised claiming rules, and the launch of a concussion protocol pilot for jockeys at Woodbine and Fort Erie racetracks.
  • The AGCO provided ongoing strategic and operational advice to government on proposed reforms to the liquor regulatory framework.
  • The Regulatory Intelligence and Innovation team developed a predictive risk model for liquor, implemented a data-driven strategy to strengthen the agency’s regulatory approach towards impaired driving, and developed an analytics training framework to embed data analysis into decision making and policy development.

2. Service Excellence

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30
  • The continuation of the AGCO’s service delivery model, through the phased rollout of the iAGCO online portal, featured the March 2020 launch of online services for horse racing participants.
  • The AGCO continued its ongoing development of organizational performance measures, with insights employed to better evaluate business performance and regulatory effectiveness.
  • The AGCO delivered a series of engagement-driven activities to solicit stakeholder input and generate awareness about major corporate initiatives, including hosting the AGCO’s second Stakeholder Summit.
  • The Education, Training and Awareness team launched an eLearning course for private event SOP holders to educate them about their legal responsibilities.
  • The AGCO conducted internal audits and evaluations, and implemented recommendations, based on a Board-approved, three-year, rolling Strategic Audit and Evaluation Plan, leading to strengthened internal controls and improved governance and accountability.
  • The AGCO continued to maintain and build upon collaborative relationships with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, College of Veterinarians, Canada Border Services Agency, Regulatory Compliance & Enforcement Council, Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, and the Canadian American Law Enforcement Organization.
  • The AGCO continued to enhance its Emergency Management Plan Framework, including the creation of business continuity plans for new lines of business and modifications to infrastructure to ensure critical systems and information are protected and available in the event of an emergency.
  • As part of its Better, Faster, Smarter story, the AGCO launched a Value Task Force in April 2019, creating an internal infrastructure for measuring red tape and supporting the government’s objective of reducing regulatory burden by 25%. 

3. People First

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30
  • Under its organizational design initiative to identify opportunities to be more flexible, dynamic, and agile, the AGCO strengthened its Regulatory Intelligence function, improved the structure of its Customer Experience team, and created a new Chief Information Officer role.
  • The rollout of the Remote Work Arrangement program provided a flexible structure for employees to occasionally work from an alternate work location when appropriate to their duties and functions. The program was a driving factor in the AGCO’s successful and efficient response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with most staff seamlessly transitioning to an expanded full-time remote work arrangement within a matter of days.
  • As part of a multi-year Diversity and Inclusion plan, the AGCO conducted an all-staff Diversity and Inclusion Survey to assess the organization’s efforts to create a positive workplace environment that reflects the unique qualities of its employees.
  • The Well Engaged Committee took a leadership role in action planning and implementation of initiatives to enhance organizational diversity and inclusion efforts, with recruitment, outreach, and disability/accommodation awareness being identified as its top priorities.
  • The AGCO formalized a Corporate Social Responsibility strategy and took concrete steps to ensure its employees, communities, and environment thrive by identifying four focus areas: diverse, healthy and engaged workplace; a vibrant and strong community; a sustainable environment; and socially responsible industries.
  • The AGCO’s virtual Town Hall series continued to connect staff across the province over a one-week period, by taking a modern, cost-effective approach that combined live streaming, interactive sessions, themed days with customized content, recorded presentations, and an employee social media platform to engage with staff across the province.
  • Providing the organization with a competitive advantage in attracting talent, the AGCO NEXT initiative launched NEXT Talks, inviting employees to create and deliver all-staff presentations on relevant themes.
  • The AGCO continued to implement its Employee Engagement action plan, by focusing on two corporate themes: opportunities to have ideas adopted and put into use, and improving the efficiency and effectiveness of work structures and processes. Initiatives such as innovation hour, process review, and continuous improvement were rolled out across the organization.
  • In 2019–2020, a new Ask Me Anything staff engagement initiative was launched, providing AGCO employees with an opportunity to submit questions directly to executives and receive an immediate response.
  • The Manager 2020 project team introduced several progressive initiatives, including LeaderShift, which allows managers to apply for temporary assignments outside of their field and lead a team of specialists. The team also developed four leadership competencies for use in management and staff development plans.
  • Human Resources continued to incorporate a Digital First approach by implementing new technology modules to improve efficiency, adopt best practices, and eliminate manual/paper-based processes.

Government Initiatives and Priorities

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

As an agency of the provincial government, the AGCO helps support and deliver on the Ontario government’s public policy priorities and fiscal objectives. The AGCO continued to review its priorities and its operations to remain consistent with government direction and to ensure cost-effective and customer-focused service delivery. Examples of AGCO strategic initiatives to support government policy include:

1. Licensing and Regulation of Recreational Cannabis

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO is responsible for regulating Ontario’s privately run cannabis retail stores under the Cannabis Licence Act, 2018 and Regulation 468/18.

Under Ontario’s regulatory model, the AGCO:

  • licenses eligible retail store operators and managers;
  • authorizes cannabis retail stores;
  • regulates and enforces the appropriate sale of recreational cannabis in privately-run stores in Ontario.

In 2019–2020, the AGCO continued its work to support the Government of Ontario in the regulation of legal, recreational cannabis.

On April 1, 2019, 10 AGCO-licensed cannabis retail stores opened for business in support of the government’s objective to provide for the safe, responsible, and lawful sale of recreational cannabis.

In August 2019, the AGCO held a second lottery draw in support of the government’s plans for the allocation of 42 additional retail store authorizations (RSA), for which it received more than 5,000 expressions of interest. In addition, it established a separate first come, first served process for 26 stores to be allocated on First Nations reserves. The AGCO’s eligibility assessment process for these applicants, including a full due diligence review of to ensure they meet legislative and regulatory requirements, continued through the fiscal year.

In December 2019, the Government of Ontario announced its move towards an open market for private cannabis retail in Ontario. In response, the AGCO modified the application process for cannabis retail licensing and on January 6, 2020, began accepting online Retail Operator Licence (ROL) applications from all interested applicants. It received 884 submissions. On March 2, 2020, the AGCO began accepting online RSA applications from eligible applicants. It received 563 submissions. By March 31, 2020, the AGCO had issued 398 ROLs and 54 RSAs.

2. Modernizing Regulations Concerning the Sale and Consumption of Beverage Alcohol

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

In May 2019, consistent with the Government of Ontario’s April 2019 Budget objectives, the AGCO introduced several initiatives to reduce burden, modernize the regulatory framework for liquor, and improve choice and convenience for consumers of beverage alcohol, including:

  • extending the hours for sale and service of beverage alcohol at licensed establishments (such as bars, restaurants, and golf courses), for manufacturers (wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries) with a By the Glass Licence, as well as Special Occasion Permit (SOP) events;
  • removing prescribed quantities of liquor to be served to consumers under the By the Glass licence to enhance the tourist experience at manufacturing sites;
  • amending the Liquor Advertising Guidelines to permit Happy Hour advertising in licensed establishments to allow licensees to advertise their promotions;
  • eliminating prescribed SOP partition and food requirements, to provide permit holders with more flexibility while still meeting social responsibility objectives;
  • creating a new Tailgate SOP, allowing businesses and persons 19 years of age or older to sell or serve alcohol to attendees and allowing them to bring their own alcohol to an event in connection with, and in proximity to, professional, semi-professional and postsecondary sporting events in Ontario.

In October 2019, the AGCO reduced burden on wineries by increasing the permitted amount of time they had to return unsold product from Farmers’ Markets to their on-site retail store, from 24 to 72 hours.

In December 2019, the AGCO extended the hours of sale and service of beverage alcohol at select Ontario airports to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In support of the government’s Fall Economic Statement, the AGCO worked to expand the alcohol sales in grocery stores program, in collaboration with the LCBO. By March 31, 2020, it had issued 448 grocery store authorizations, of which 157 were authorized to sell beer and wine and 291 were authorized to sell beer and cider.

The AGCO also conducted an ongoing review of program reports and analysis of program data and continued to collaborate with the OPP and regional and municipal police on the Last Drink Program, which allows the AGCO and police services to share information and educate owners of licensed establishments on the dangers of impaired driving.

3. Open for Business

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The government has emphasized the need for Ontario to be Open for Business and instituted a government-wide red-tape and burden–reduction initiative to support economic growth and foster enhanced interaction between government and business.

The AGCO has a long history of working to support Open for Business principles by continually searching for ways to reduce administrative burdens for businesses and by deploying regulatory approaches to support responsible economic development. The shift towards a more risk- and outcome-based regulatory framework in the gaming sector, for example, is intended to allow Operators and businesses more flexibility to adapt to marketplace changes and ultimately to increase their competitiveness without compromising the AGCO’s regulatory work.

In 2018–2019, the AGCO designed and implemented a similar approach for the retail sale of cannabis in Ontario, assuring effectiveness but avoiding unnecessarily burdensome regulatory oversight from the outset. The AGCO also continues to build strategic partnerships and share information with other government ministries and agencies to strengthen collaborative and streamlined approaches. This includes effective relationships with the Ministry of the Attorney General (MAG), Ministry of Finance, OCS, OLG, and LCBO.

The concept of reducing red tape and burden has been a driver for many of the regulatory and internal reforms implemented at the AGCO over the last 15 years. In 2019–2020, the AGCO worked collaboratively with the Government of Ontario on multiple phases of liquor regulatory reforms that have simplified the rules and reduced unnecessary burden on liquor licensees and permit holders, including bars, restaurants, stadiums, special occasion hosts, and manufacturers. In 2019–2020, the AGCO also introduced changes to the rules that govern horse racing to support the industry’s sustainability and reduce the administrative burden for participants.

4. OLG Gaming, Casino and Player Platform, and Lottery Modernization

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

In March 2012, the OLG initiated a plan to modernize lottery and gaming in Ontario, which included three key priorities:

  • becoming more customer-focused;
  • securing qualified service providers for the day-to-day operation of lottery and gaming; and
  • renewing OLG’s role in the conduct, management and oversight of lottery and gaming.

The AGCO also embarked on a path to modernize its approach to regulation, which complemented the OLG’s plan. The AGCO has been taking a modern and progressive approach to regulation, based on risk, the achievement of outcomes, and providing a degree of business flexibility and efficiencies for the lottery and gaming industries. These efforts support and align with key government objectives for enhanced efficiency in the delivery of public services and reducing regulatory burden and increasing consumer choice. In addition, the AGCO’s outcomes-based approach to regulation has resulted in significant cost avoidance annually for the AGCO, as well as cost savings, cost avoidance, or additional revenue for Casino Operators.

5. Open Government

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO continued to support the Open Government initiative, which aims to create a more open and transparent government by sharing data and information, and consulting with the people of Ontario.

In accordance with the Open Data Directive, the AGCO posted on its website an inventory of datasets under its custody and control. The inventory identifies whether a dataset is currently open, in the process of being opened, or exempt from being released as open data due to legal, security, privacy, confidentiality, or commercially sensitive reasons. New datasets were added to the inventory in 2019. The AGCO will continue to make priority datasets available to the public on its website under an open-by-default approach.

6. Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA) was created with the goal of developing standards that would improve accessibility for people with disabilities across the province. The AGCO has developed accessibility standards in the areas of customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation, and the physical environment.

The AODA requires all provincial agencies to provide updates to their Accessibility Plan and Policies on an annual basis. The AGCO is committed to meeting the needs of persons with disabilities in a timely manner by preventing and removing barriers to accessibility and meeting accessibility requirements under the AODA. The AGCO has implemented the requirements outlined in the plan and participated in various activities to inform its plan and policies, including the review and update of its practices in the areas of training, information and communication, and employment.

The AGCO is committed to ensuring that its public website meets or exceeds the accessibility standards required under the AODA. This includes producing all content in an accessible HTML format, which can be more easily read by assistive technologies such as screen readers. A site-wide accessibility audit was recently performed to identify any remaining deficiencies. Remediation efforts are on track for completion by the statutory deadline of January 1, 2021.

All AGCO employees are trained on the requirements of Ontario’s accessibility laws, including the Integrated Accessibility Standards Regulation (IASR) and the Ontario Human Rights Code as it pertains to persons with disabilities. This accessibility training has been built into the employee orientation process to ensure that all new AGCO employees, as well as Board of Directors and members and HRAP members, have a good and appropriate understanding of accessibility to perform their duties and provide services to the AGCO’s diverse stakeholders.

The AGCO maintains a commitment to meeting all requirements under the AODA and the IASR and continues to refine its accessibility plan with a focus on ensuring its policies and practices remain accessible and meet the needs of all stakeholders, including persons with disabilities.

7. Education, Training and Awareness Fund

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

In 2018–2019, development began on an external funding program that would allow stakeholders to access a portion of funds from the AGCO’s Orders of Monetary Penalties (OMP) account for Education, Training and Awareness (ETA) initiatives they have designed and developed. In 2019–2020, the ETA Fund was launched allowing industry associations, social responsibility groups and others similarly active and that have the capacity to deliver programming in the sectors the AGCO regulates to develop programs strategically aligned with the AGCO’s mandate.

For the 2019–2020 fiscal year, the total amount of funds the AGCO made available through the ETA Fund was just over $225,000. The following three projects were ultimately selected to receive funding:

A.Serving Responsibly Campaign by MADD Canada

Funded Amount: $100,000

Status: Complete
MADD developed a public service announcement aimed at thanking servers and licensees for keeping our communities safe by refusing to sell alcohol to intoxicated customers in compliance with the law and demonstrating what can happen when servers do not uphold the law.

B.Preventing Intoxicated Gambling Among Young Adults by Responsible Gambling Council (RGC)

Funded Amount: $81,400
Status: In progress
RGC is developing a series of evidence-informed social media messages about refraining from gambling while intoxicated by alcohol and/or cannabis, targeting young adults in Ontario, with a focus on Kenora, North Bay, Ottawa, and Peterborough.

C.South Eastern Ontario Peer Crowd Alcohol Campaign by Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFLA) Public Health Unit

Funded Amount: $45,000
Status: In progress
KFLA is developing a young adult social marketing campaign aimed at reducing the harms of binge drinking. The campaign will target the young adult peer crowd, at greatest risk of alcohol harm.

Given the success of this first year of the ETA Fund, the AGCO is working to launch an additional round of funding for the 2020–2021 fiscal year.

Performance Measures

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Measuring performance enables the AGCO to improve program effectiveness through ongoing evaluation of the achievement of our strategic goals. This is achieved by setting targets, monitoring data and outcomes, and evaluating the results.

The following performance measures are intended to provide a broad overview of the AGCO’s activities and demonstrate progress in meeting the AGCO’s strategic goals.

The 2019–2020 fiscal year marks the first year of the AGCO’s current strategic performance measures, which have been redesigned to fit the AGCO’s refreshed Strategic Plan and to provide a broad view of the AGCO’s key outputs and outcomes.

The results from these measures, shown below, demonstrate that in 2019–2020, the AGCO met or surpassed minimum agency targets in several areas. The achievement of these measures results from a number of overarching projects and initiatives at the AGCO, including:

  • the continued roll-out of iAGCO in additional AGCO lines of business;
  • a continued focus on stakeholder engagement and an enhanced approach to stakeholder education;
  • a modern regulatory approach which is risk-based, outcomes-based and compliance focused; and
  • the introduction of numerous programs to support a rewarding workplace for employees.

The AGCO has identified areas of improvement, for metrics in which targets have not yet been met, which will continue to move the agency forward.

The AGCO is committed to ensuring that agency-wide performance measures support the goals outlined in its Strategic Plan. To meet this commitment, the AGCO will continue to refine its approach to linking resource planning and performance measurement to support a results-oriented organization.

Operational Performance

operational_performance_2019-2020.jpg

Modern Regulator

AGCO Performance Measure

Digital First

Description

AGCO provides user-based services and information through multiple windows and service channels anytime and anywhere.

Outcome / Output Metric

Outcome Metric
% of users using digital options1 to transact with the AGCO meets or exceeds target of 85%. 

2019–20 Results

95%

Service Excellence

AGCO Performance Measure

Service Experience

Description

A service-centered design that optimizes the service experience, engages customers proactively and identifies opportunities for improvements.

Outcome / Output Metric

Output Metric:
Online application turnaround time (in days)2 meets or is lower than target of 20 days.

2019–20 Results

26

Outcome Metric:
% of clients satisfied with services3 meets or exceeds target of 75%.

2019–20 Results

78.5%

AGCO Performance Measure

Value for Money

Description

Ensuring value per transaction (internal and external) with a focus on streamlining process and reducing regulatory burden.

Outcome / Output Metric

Output Metric:
% of applications for SOPs auto-issued meets or exceeds target of 90%.

2019–20 Results

93%

People First

AGCO Performance Measure

Employee Experience

Description

The level of engagement and enablement is directly correlated with higher productivity, increased motivation and job satisfaction.

Outcome / Output Metric

Outcome Metric
The % of AGCO staff who would recommend AGCO as a place to work4 meets or exceeds target of 75%.

2019–20 Results

86%

Outcome Metric:
The % of AGCO staff who believe they have opportunities to have their ideas adopted and put into use5 meets or exceeds target of 70%.

2019–20 Results

65%

1 Includes applications, inquiries and complaints.
2 Includes application turnaround times and auto-renewals completed on the iAGCO portal.
3 Average based on AGCO website, iAGCO portal and telephone calls.  
4 Based on the 2018 AGCO Employee Engagement Survey.
5 Based on the 2018 AGCO Employee Engagement Survey.

 

 

Operational Performance – Investigation and Enforcement Bureau

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The Investigation and Enforcement Bureau (IEB) is composed of OPP Officers and is fully integrated as a bureau within the AGCO. The OPP bureau works with AGCO operations to streamline, standardize, and improve investigative responses. The IEB comprises the Investigations Branch and the Intelligence and Investigative Support Branch. These branches provide investigative expertise and share information with external law enforcement and regulatory and industry stakeholder agencies to ensure integrity and public safety within AGCO regulated industries.

IEB Investigation Branch

Occurrences

TABLE 2 – Number of IEB Investigations

 

2018-­19

2019–20

iGaming

33

45

Charitable Gaming

21

14

Liquor Licence Holders and Applicants

110

139

Lottery Insider Wins

55

51

Lottery Suspicious Wins

87

79

Other Lottery Investigations

167

93

Gaming Enforcement Branch

Gaming Investigation Units

TABLE 3 – Occurrences at Casinos and Slot Machine Facilities

 

2018–19

2019–20

Total Investigations

9,424

9,137

Total Criminal Code Offences

2,291

1,581

Alleged Cheat-at-Play Instances

179

271

Cheat-at-Play Charges Laid

19

17

Total Non–Criminal Code Related Offences

These occurrences involved provincial statute investigations or violations, such as under the Liquor Licence Act, Trespass to Property Act, and Mental Health Act.

Not included are requests to assist local police with non–gaming related investigations. Only those events that result in a report being filed are considered reportable occurrences by the AGCO’s IEB.

7,133

6,713

Eligibility Investigations Unit (EIU)

TABLE 4 – Eligibility Investigations

 

2018–19

2019–20

Investigations – Gaming

Includes files on gaming-related and non-gaming related suppliers, racing teletheatre investigations, investigations on gaming site employees, and lottery retailer investigations

518

606

Outside Agency Assist Checks

These checks provide investigative assistance to external law enforcement agencies.

562

536

Operational Performance – Other

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Service Strategy and Experience

The AGCO’s Service Strategy and Experience Branch was established in March 2019, bringing together the AGCO’s Contact Centre department, and Complaints and Inquiries Oversight function. Its enterprise-wide mandate is to deliver on the AGCO’s Service Excellence strategic objective by working with partners across the organization to ensure that:

  • a strong service culture is developed and embedded;
  • customer needs are the organizing principle around which policy development, service design and delivery are planned and executed;
  • AGCO service channels function optimally and meet customer expectations; and
  • the customer experience is monitored, measured, and managed.

iAGCO and Service Improvements

To create a more streamlined and digital experience for AGCO applicants and registrants, the AGCO continued its phased approach to its iAGCO online services:

  • Phase 1: May 29, 2017, for SOP applications and liquor manufacturers’ licensing;
  • Phase 2: January 29, 2018, for all liquor licences, and online submission of complaints and inquiries;
  • Phase 3: November 19, 2018, for lottery and gaming licences and January 14, 2019, for cannabis licenses; and
  • Phase 4(A): March 02, 2020, for horse racing licences.

The AGCO’s Digital by Default mindset continued to drive the agency’s modern regulatory approach with the rollout of iAGCO online services for horse racing licensees. These sector participants join liquor, lottery and gaming, and cannabis licensees in the adoption of online services.

As of March 2020, the online submission rate for liquor applicants was 94%, and 90% of gaming applications were processed online. Low-risk applicants now have quicker application turnaround times resulting from auto-issuance and auto-renewals of licences, where appropriate.

In 2019-20, the online submission rate for liquor applicants was 94%. In addition, 87% of gaming application were submitted online. Low risk applicants now have quicker application turnaround timelines resulting from auto-issuance and auto-renewals of licences, where appropriate.

In 2019-20, 93% of SOPs and 38% of liquor licence renewals were deemed low risk and issued automatically and the auto renewal rate for Gaming registrations was at 62%.

iAGCO improves the customer experience by allowing those who do business with the AGCO to apply for and manage their licences, registrations, and permits online, anytime from anywhere, through the iAGCO online portal.

iAGCO has resulted in a variety of efficiencies, including:

  • a simplified renewal process with the option to select longer renewal periods, resulting in reduced administrative burden for licensees and registrants;
  • elimination of the requirement for licensees and registrants to obtain and carry AGCO-printed photo identification cards;
  • a streamlined application process for low-risk applicants; and
  • a reduction in the number of documents and level of detail required.

TABLE 5 – iAGCO and Service Improvements

The submission of regulatory notifications (reporting of incidents or events of regulatory interest), liquor licence objections, cannabis public submissions, general inquiries, and complaints through iAGCO continues to increase.

 

2018–19 Volumes

2019–20 Volumes

Online Regulatory Notifications

8,666

25,074

Liquor Objections

793

241

Complaints

2,217

2,581

Inquiries

33,536

49,319

Cannabis Submissions

(from the public and municipalities)

181

1,086

Total

45,393

78,301

Here is what customers have to say about iAGCO:

  • “Great online experience. Very convenient to be able to do this during non-business hours from my own home. well done!”
  • “Application was easy to follow, simple to execute, seamless approval process.”
  • “Online service is far superior to the old paper form renewals. Thank you for making the process quick and easy.”

TABLE 6 – Contact Centre and Customer Service Support

The AGCO is committed to supporting its customers, the public and stakeholders through effective customer service support across a variety of channels.

 

2018–19

2019–20

Telephone Contacts (Contact Centre)

100,384

104,072

In-person customers (Head Office)

8,927

2,162

Self-Help (using automated voice messaging system)

33,386

36,386

Web Chat*

n/a

6,756

AGCO website visits

1,754,979

1,425,794

*Web Chat volumes are from September 2019 to March 2020.

Customer Satisfaction, Performance and Continuous Improvement

In 2019–2020, AGCO’s Customer Satisfaction Surveys were enhanced to improve consistency in how customer service insights are gathered across the AGCO’s common service channels (iAGCO, website, and voice) to measure and improve the AGCO Service Experience.

Enhancements included:

  • the introduction of questions aligned to the drivers of customer satisfaction;
  • the development of a common method of asking service questions; and
  • the adoption of a common five-point Likert scale to improve the compare-and-contrast service levels across service channels.

During the fiscal year, the Contact Centre answered 87% of customer calls within five minutes or less, exceeding its 80% service level target. AGCO customer surveys indicated a customer satisfaction rating of 84% for those who called the Contact Centre.

The AGCO continued its commitment to improving the customer experience with the launch of call-monitoring technology to monitor and improve the quality of customer calls and Web Chat interactions. Quality monitoring ensures that performance standards are adhered to and procedural compliance is met.

Eighty-one percent of AGCO customers were satisfied with their experience using the iAGCO portal, with cannabis and SOP applicants reporting the highest satisfaction levels. The AGCO website continues to be a primary source of information for AGCO customers.

Complaints and Inquiries

The AGCO’s Complaints & Inquiries Handling Policy continues to focus on complaints analysis, continuous improvement, and evidence-based decision making. Through regular performance monitoring, the AGCO’s average turnaround for addressing complaints about regulated entity compliance and licensing and registration, is holding steady at approximately 40 days.

New Service Channel: Web Chat for SOPs and Cannabis

In September 2019, the AGCO launched a new channel of communication to support and further enhance the customer service experience. Web Chat offers customers a direct, web-based digital line to the Contact Centre Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. This popular service, currently available to Special Occasion Permit and cannabis customers, is scheduled to expand to other lines of business.

Strategic Engagement

Stakeholder engagement is a key element in the delivery of AGCO priority initiatives and decision-making. The AGCO shares information with, consults, and educates stakeholders to ensure overall understanding of regulatory requirements and improve regulatory outcomes and compliance. Engagement supports the AGCO’s risk-based and compliance focused regulatory approach, and the commitment to being customer-centred and responsive.

In 2019–2020, stakeholder engagement, education, and training activities included the hosting of webinars and national/international delegations, consultations, and industry stakeholder information sessions, as well as participation in industry-focused forums, conferences, and working groups.

A key engagement event was the second AGCO Stakeholder Summit in November 2019, which helped to build and solidify external stakeholder community relationships. With the theme, Design Thinking: How the AGCO is Updating its Modern Regulatory Toolkit, the Summit featured a keynote speaker on digital disruption, and profiled AGCO activities to inform regulatory decisions through data use, improve compliance collaboratively through education, training and awareness, and create its Better, Faster, Smarter service strategy and burden reduction. The event was attended by over 100 key external stakeholders from across all the industries the AGCO regulates, as well as government partners and public health and social responsibility groups.

To support Ontario’s burgeoning cannabis industry the AGCO continued to engage with stakeholders that had already received a retail store authorization as well as individuals and companies interested in obtaining a cannabis retail store authorization. The 2019/2020 fiscal year saw the AGCO engaging in a more concerted manner, and on a more regular basis, with First Nations that were interested in hosting a provincially-regulated cannabis retail store. Specifically, in July 2019 the AGCO held an information session for First Nations and responded to over fifty unique questions and concerns regarding AGCO’s regulatory framework for cannabis retail. Throughout the duration of the year, the AGCO continued to meet with First Nation leaders on an individualized basis and was invited to participate in a First Nation cannabis retailing workshop.

The AGCO, in partnership with the Ministry of the Attorney General, met with a variety of international delegations with representation from New Zealand, the Netherlands, New Jersey, and New York to discuss cannabis legalization and Ontario’s regulatory approach to cannabis retailing.

The AGCO also continued its engagement with horse racing industry stakeholders as part of the AGCO’s ongoing review of the Rules of Racing. This included the following initiatives:

  • An extensive consultation was conducted, including 10 interviews with jurisdictions around the world and approximately 300 responses to its Ontario industry-wide survey, on the adjudication of in-race interference. Input will be supplemented through ongoing engagement prior to the implementation of any future changes to how interference is adjudicated in Ontario.
  • In consultation with industry representatives, the AGCO designed and implemented incremental changes to urging rules in the province, which will continue to be assessed and adjusted over future racing seasons.
  • Following extensive consultation in 2018-2019, the AGCO implemented a Concussion Protocol Pilot at thoroughbred racetracks for the duration of the 2019 racing season that included interactive education sessions with more than 125 attendees. Following an evaluation of the pilot involving input from many participants, the protocol will be expanded to include more participants in the province.

In addition to targeted industry outreach, the AGCO continued to engage in a focused and coordinated manner with municipalities on its regulatory frameworks for liquor, cannabis, and charitable gaming.

In May 2019, the AGCO hosted the final webinar in a four-part municipal webinar series focused on liquor regulation in Ontario. More than 200 municipal registrants attended, with a participant satisfaction rate of 100%.

In June 2019, the AGCO hosted an event in partnership with the City of Ottawa for liquor licensees and industry/neighbourhood associations. The meeting strengthened awareness of the AGCO’s role in liquor regulation and municipal responsibilities in bylaw enforcement, while building better channels of communication and relationship development between local residents and liquor licensees.

The AGCO remains committed to meaningful engagement to understand the various stakeholder perspectives and inform policies and programs across all its regulated sectors, as well as to building and maintaining strong and valued partnerships and alliances to improve regulatory outcomes.

Compliance Services

Compliance Services (CS) is responsible for conducting regulatory inspections, audits, and financial investigations across all lines of business regulated by the AGCO. Throughout 2019–2020, CS continued with the implementation of an integrated compliance function. CS has achieved the objective of having all Compliance Officials (COs) trained to deliver compliance services across multiple sectors by having all COs providing oversight in at least two sectors.

Audit and Financial Investigations Branch

1. Casinos and Slot Machine Facilities

In 2019–2020, the casino sector continued to transition to a private sector–operated model under OLG’s modernization strategy. It also fully transitioned to a standards-based regulatory approach, under which the AGCO establishes clear industry objectives and standards. Regulated entities then determine the most efficient and effective way to meet them. The AGCO assesses compliance by obtaining assurance that objectives and standards are being met.

This approach benefits the AGCO and Operators by providing more operational flexibility while strengthening regulatory outcomes in a way that does not unnecessarily burden those the AGCO regulates. It also allows the AGCO to proactively manage the evolving nature of its regulated industries and provide flexibility to be able to assume new regulatory responsibilities.

When conducting an audit at a casino facility, the AGCO assesses site compliance with the requirements under the Gaming Control Act (GCA), the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming, the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, 2001, and related regulations. The AGCO proactively helps regulated entities to comply with regulatory requirements using an approach based on education, collaboration, and deterrence.

During 2019–2020, the AGCO carried out nine risk-based audits/review.

2. Internet Gaming (iGaming)

As part of its regulatory assurance activities, the AGCO conducts audits, compliance monitoring and reviews, technical monitoring of the iGaming platform, and investigations of suspicious behaviour within the province’s PlayOLG.ca gaming platform. The AGCO applies a risk-based approach to its activities, including its eligibility assessment and registration process, technical assessment and approval of updates to the OLG iGaming solution and new games, and the application of regulatory assurance activities to assess compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming.

During 2019–2020, the AGCO carried out one risk-based audit.

3. Charitable Gaming (cGaming)

As part of the ongoing multi-year initiative to revitalize and modernize charitable bingo in the province, the OLG and the charitable gaming Operators signed an amended agreement in 2019. The amended agreement provides Operators with increased flexibility in their overall conduct of the business and management of their operations while undertaking a number of new accountabilities. Operators are now accountable for their compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming.

In 2019–2020, the AGCO worked collaboratively with Operators in support of compliance with the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming. The AGCO carried out education sessions with all Operators of the 33 cGaming centres in the province during the Fall of 2019.

4. Other Charitable Gaming

In addition to cGaming centres managed and operated by licensed Service Providers/Operators in partnership with charities, traditional paper-based bingo events conducted and managed by licensed charitable organizations continue to operate in Ontario. Charitable gaming revenues, including those that come from traditional bingos, are an important source of funding for a large number of not-for-profit organizations.

The AGCO continued to support the charitable gaming industry by supporting fundraising opportunities for charities and providing suppliers with opportunities for business growth through modernization initiatives. These included the bingo revenue model, introduction of eRaffles using a Random Number Generator, online 50/50 draws, changes to the break open ticket regulatory framework, the launch of Catch the Ace lotteries, as well as the AGCO’s work with the Charitable Gaming Strategic Working Group and Mega Raffle Working Group. While the role of provincial and municipal licensing authorities remains in place, this model provides for flexibility in how charitable games are licensed, managed, and conducted.

5. OLG Lotteries

The AGCO conducts audits and reviews of the OLG’s lottery management functions, processes, and systems. Applying a risk-based approach, the AGCO completed one technology-related audit of a lottery system and continued to monitor the implementation of the OLG’s lottery modernization. The OLG continued to modernize key components of its lottery and iGaming business, including a new OLG Player Platform, replacement of lottery terminals, an enhanced sports betting solution, a new web and app presence, as well as new games.

During 2019–2020, the AGCO monitored ongoing changes to the OLG’s lottery platform, assessed related risks, educated new Gaming-Related Suppliers on AGCO’s regulatory requirements and expectations, and assessed technology-related readiness.

6. Horse Racing

The AGCO conducts audits and reviews of Ontario racetracks to assess the effectiveness of governance structures and processes, the integrity of funds management, compliance with racetrack licences and with the Rules of Racing. AGCO Audit also collaborates closely with the OLG in areas of shared interest, such as governance and integrity of purse account management.

In 2019–2020, the AGCO carried out one follow-up audit of an Ontario racetrack.

7. Alcohol – Wineries and Liquor

The AGCO is responsible for administering the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) and specific sections of the Liquor Control Act (LCA). AGCO’s regulatory responsibilities include the licensing and regulation of the sale and service of beverage alcohol in liquor-licensed establishments (e.g. bars and restaurants) and manufacturers.

In 2019–2020, the AGCO applied a variety of tools and regulatory assurance activities to this sector, including five financial reviews in support of inspections conducted by AGCO Compliance Officials of licensed liquor establishments that were not compliant with terms and conditions of their licence and provisions of the LLA/LCA.

As part of an existing MOU with the AGCO, the LCBO conducts regular compliance audits of licensed wine manufacturers on behalf of the AGCO. During 2019–2020, a total of 213 audits of wine manufacturers was completed. In addition, the AGCO completed financial/compliance reviews of three licensed wine boutiques.

8. Cannabis

Following the federal legalization of cannabis for recreational use, the Ontario government announced in August 2018 a private retail model in which businesses can apply for licences in order to sell cannabis. In addition, the Ontario government mandated the AGCO as the regulator of this line of business.

Private retail stores were permitted to sell cannabis beginning on April 1, 2019, with the goal to further eliminate the illegal market and provide economic development opportunities for businesses in Ontario. The AGCO fulfills its responsibility for licensing retailers and authorizing stores by conducting eligibility assessments and enforcing legislation and the Registrar’s Standards using a number of tools, including inspections, assessment of point-of-sale and inventory tracking systems, education, and other regulatory assurance activities. The AGCO focuses on the safe, responsible, and lawful sale of cannabis, consistent with government legislation.

In 2019–2020, the AGCO worked with the OCS and industry partners to amend the Registrar’s Standards for Cannabis Retail Stores for “Click & Collect” eCommerce sales of cannabis products.

9. Financial Due Diligence and Investigations

The Branch’s Financial Investigations Unit (FIU) conducts financial due diligence reviews to assess the ability of an entity applying for a licence or registration to conduct its business in accordance with the principles of honesty, integrity, and financial responsibility. FIU reports are used to support the eligibility assessment process and licensing and registration decisions made by the Licensing and Registration Branch.

In 2019–2020, the FIU provided forensic expertise to support investigations by the AGCO/OPP’s Investigations and Enforcement Bureau of suspected thefts or misuse of charitable lottery funds. The FIU completed 14 financial investigations.

Compliance Services Inspections

In 2019–2020, CS continued the vision of focusing on achieving the outcomes that support compliance in the most effective and efficient manner. This has meant focusing compliance resources where they have the greatest impact. Through these efforts, Compliance Officials have placed a greater emphasis on the areas that present the most significant risks. With efforts being focused on compliance outcomes, COs invest significant efforts into providing increased consultation and education with licensees and Operators.

Strategic Partnerships

CS recognizes the benefits of collaborative working relationships with police services and other regulatory bodies. Throughout 2019–2020, CS continued to seek out new strategic partnerships and collaborative approaches to promote compliance among all sectors regulated by the AGCO

In this fiscal year, CS increased its collaboration with municipal partners, including expanding a project to enable efficient referral of compliance information to the City of Toronto and continuing its collaboration with the City of Ottawa. CS continued to strengthen its network of municipal partnerships through increased joint projects and information-sharing initiatives.

CS has renewed its efforts to leverage technology to deliver education and awareness seminars to police officers servicing the remote areas of Ontario. During 2019, CS staff delivered a series of virtual education seminars to OPP Officers in Sioux Lookout. The success of this pilot will pave the way for development of education programs that police officers can participate in regardless of where they are located.

TABLE 7 – Compliance Services Inspections – Cannabis

 

2018–19

2019–20

Pre-inspection

19

73

Cannabis pre-opening

11

45

Education

24

148

Unannounced Inspection

3

222

All other inspection types

0

154

TABLE 8 – Compliance Services Inspections – Raffles

 

2018-19

2019–20

Inspections

186

57

Infractions cited

5

1

In addition to commercial gaming inspections (see note following Charitable Gaming – cGaming, page 35), the AGCO continued to conduct inspections at sites that fall under O.Reg 207(1)(b) of the Criminal Code. These sites are conducted and managed by the OLG.

AGCO COs also provide education and outreach to the charitable gaming sector to ensure continued compliance. In 2019–2020, COs conducted 93 charitable gaming inspections and found 12 violations.

Operational Performance – By Line of Business

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Alcohol

Licensing

The Liquor Licence Act and its Regulations provide the Registrar with the authority for regulating and licensing liquor sales licences, ferment-on-premise facility licences, liquor delivery service licences, manufacturer’s licences, and manufacturer’s representative licences.

The AGCO is also responsible for overseeing the administration of SOPs, which are required for occasional private events (such as weddings and receptions) or public events (such as community festivals), where beverage alcohol will be served and/or sold to the public.

TABLE 9 – Total Number of Liquor Licences and Special Occasion Permits

 

2018–19

2019–20

Liquor Sales Licensed Establishments

17,126

17,753

Ferment-on-Premise Facilities

491

468

Liquor Delivery Services

305

325

Manufacturers

722

817

Manufacturers’ Representatives

864

913

Total Liquor Licences

19,508

20,276

SOPs Issued

64,251

58,555

VQA Wine Sales at Farmers’ Markets

As of March 31, 2020, there were 161 wineries selling their fruit wine, honey wine, maple wine, or VQA wine at 218 Ontario Farmers’ Markets.

TABLE 10 – Compliance Services Inspections – Alcohol

 

2018–19

2019–20

Inspections of licensed premises (excluding SOPs)

15,635

18,590

Contraventions of Ontario’s liquor laws

3,064

2,654

Serious occurrences escalated for further review

145

136

TABLE 11 – Notices of Proposal and Orders of Monetary Penalty (Alcohol)

If the Registrar proposes to refuse, revoke, or suspend a licence, the Registrar must serve a Notice of Proposal (NOP) on the applicant/licensee outlining the reasons for the proposed action. Applicants/licensees who dispute a NOP may appeal the proposal to the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT).

 

2018–2019

2019–2020

NOPs

  • Applications (new, change, transfer)
  • Disciplinary (suspend and/or add conditions, revoke)
  • Premises closed (revoke licence)
  • Other

 

271

 

 82

Orders of Monetary Penalty

59

38

Gaming

OLG Lotteries

TABLE 12 – Compliance Services Inspections – Gaming

 

2018­-19

2019–20

Inspections of registered retailers

 2,958

1,965

Infractions cited

455

297

Warnings

  117

63

Gaming Registrations

Gaming registrations must be obtained by individuals or businesses wishing to:

  • provide goods or services to charitable or religious organizations to assist with the conduct and management of their licensed lottery event, or any business that manufactures bingo paper or break open tickets;
  • sell lottery products on behalf of OLG, or provide goods or services to OLG related to lottery products;
  • provide goods or services to, or work for a casino, slot machine facility, or charitable Gaming (cGaming) site.

In reviewing applications, an eligibility assessment is carried out by the Registrar concerning the character, integrity, financial responsibility, and competence of those persons or businesses and their suitability for registration.

TABLE 13 – Total Number of Gaming and Lottery Registrations

LICENCE TYPE

2018–19

2019–20

Gaming Assistant

19,256

18,631

Gaming-Related Supplier – Manufacturers

36

44

Gaming-Related Supplier – Lottery

14

16

Gaming-Related Supplier – Other

62

67

Non-Gaming-Related Supplier

283

284

Operator – Charitable – 4 or more events per week

56

59

Operator – Charitable – 3 or less events per week

7

7

Operator – Commercial

25

28

Seller

10,075

10,164

Trade Union

15

18

Total

29,829

29, 318

Charitable Gaming Licences

The AGCO administers the charitable lottery licensing program in Ontario. This includes lottery events conducted and managed by charitable or religious organizations (such as bingo, raffles, and the sale of break open tickets). The AGCO also issues registrations to individuals or businesses that wish to provide goods or services to the charitable gaming sector, and carries out inspection and compliance assurance activities to ensure that charitable gaming licensees and registrants are operating in accordance with the law and in the public interest.

The issuance of charitable lottery licences continues to be a responsibility shared between the AGCO and local municipalities. The AGCO licenses raffle prizes over $50,000 and bingo prize boards over $5,500. Municipalities have the authority to issue licences with prize boards less than these amounts.

TABLE 14 – Lottery Licences Issued

 

2018–19

2019–20

Bingo

124

129

Charitable Gaming (Bingo Hall)

2,459

2,099

Break Open Ticket (BOT)

61

58

Raffle

419

580

Special Occasion Gaming Events

21

18

Other

4

8

Total

3,088

2,892

Electronic Gaming Equipment and System Approvals

Technical and Laboratory Services Branch

Ontario’s public confidence in gaming is largely based upon the integrity and fairness of the games and gaming systems in play. The Technical and Laboratory Services Branch ensures the technical integrity of gaming technology by testing and providing approvals of games and related gaming systems.

This technology is used throughout the province in all gaming sectors regulated by the AGCO, including casino gaming, charitable/raffle gaming, lotteries, and iGaming.

Gaming Laboratory

The AGCO Gaming Laboratory (Gaming Lab) is composed of a team of highly qualified and experienced experts in an in-house lab that is equipped with the same gaming systems used at gaming sites in Ontario.

The Gaming Lab is accredited to the international standard ISO 17025:2017 for testing laboratories, considered the international benchmark for excellence in testing laboratories. This achievement sets the AGCO apart as the only known gaming regulator with an in-house accredited gaming lab. This accreditation provides annual third-party assurance of the ongoing quality of the testing performed by the Gaming Lab.

The Gaming Lab released revised risk-based and outcomes-based minimum technical standards in July 2019 that dramatically reduced the regulatory burden for casino gaming-related suppliers while ensuring the integrity of electronic gaming machines is maintained. The new standards provide Gaming-Related Suppliers with increased flexibility in designing and implementing new gaming technology. Additionally, as part of this change, the AGCO implemented a new process whereby low-risk gaming equipment can be pre-approved without having to undergo testing by the Gaming Lab.

In 2019–2020, the Gaming Lab received feedback through its anonymous survey of Gaming-Related Suppliers who provide gaming technology for the Ontario marketplace, with 94% of respondents indicating good to excellent ratings for overall customer service provided by the AGCO Gaming Lab, including approval turnaround times and supporting the introduction of new technology.

TABLE 15 – Gaming Laboratory

 

2018–19

2019–20

Electronic gaming-related products requested for approval

2,731

2,328

Low-risk electronic gaming products that were pre-approved

n/a

125

Products with regulatory issues discovered by the AGCO that were consequently not approved

448

152

Note: The average turnaround time for approval in 2019–2020 was 19 days, which is industry leading according to Gaming-Related Suppliers and matches the turnaround time from 2018–2019.
The goal is to maintain or further improve the turnaround time in the upcoming fiscal year.

Horse Racing

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Horse Racing Licensing

In 2019–2020, the AGCO continued its efforts to implement a regulatory framework that supports a modern, efficient, and consumer-focused racing industry. AGCO Licensing Agents work at racetracks and at the AGCO’s Head Office in Toronto. The AGCO licenses participants in the horse racing industry, such as jockeys, trainers, drivers, veterinarians, stables and partnerships, racetracks associations, and teletheatres.

TABLE 16 – Horse Racing Licensing

Licensing (Number of licences issued)

2018–19

2019–20

Thoroughbred

5,628

4,537

Quarter Horse

476

428

Standardbred

9,717

8,998

Teletheatres

66

59

Racetracks

15

15

Total

15,902

14,037

Ontario Racetracks

Thoroughbred

  • Fort Erie Race Track, Fort Erie
  • Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto

Standardbred

  • Clinton Raceway, Clinton
  • Dresden Raceway, Dresden
  • Flamboro Downs, Dundas
  • Georgian Downs, Innisfil
  • Grand River Raceway, Elora
  • Hanover Raceway, Hanover
  • Hiawatha Horse Park, Sarnia
  • Kawartha Downs, Fraserville
  • Lakeshore Racing, Leamington
  • Woodbine Mohawk Park, Campbellville
  • Rideau Carleton Raceway, Ottawa
  • The Raceway at Western Fair, London
  • Woodbine Racetrack, Toronto

Quarter Horse

  • Ajax Downs, Ajax

Racing Inspections

In 2019–2020, the AGCO continued to conduct its horse racing–related inspection and investigation activities.

TABLE 17 – Compliance Services Inspections – Racing

Inspections Unit Statistics

2018–19

2019–20

Compliance activities

125

93

Due diligence activities

1,563

 1,455

Medication control activities

391

395

Regulatory activities

84

70

Rulings

Rulings are written decisions by AGCO Judges and Stewards that relate to violations of the Rules of Racing, 2018. The decisions can be appealed to the Horse Racing Appeal Panel, an independent and impartial adjudicative body – see page 48 of this Annual Report.

TABLE 18 – Rulings by Racing Officials

Breed

2018–19

2019–20

Thoroughbred

Stewards’ Rulings

175

187

Live Race Dates

173

171

Standardbred

Judges’ Rulings

541

417

Live Race Dates

717

710

Quarter Horse

Stewards’ Rulings

19

13

Live Race Dates

25

25

Notices

TABLE 19 – Number of Notices of Proposed Order or Immediate Suspension

 

2018–19

2019–20

Notice of Proposed Order

To suspend, revoke or immediately suspend a licence

30

12

Hearings, Appeals, Dispute Resolution, and Settlements

The Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) is independent of the AGCO and is an adjudicative tribunal that is part of Safety, Licensing Appeals and Standards Tribunals Ontario. LAT is responsible for adjudicating appeals regarding decisions on licensing and registration matters made by different regulators. If a person who receives a Notice of Proposal (NOP) or Notice of Proposed Order (NOPO) about a liquor, gaming, horse racing, or cannabis licensing matter and wishes to request a hearing, it will be held before LAT. Those liquor, gaming, or cannabis licensees who are assessed an Order of Monetary Penalty by the Registrar can appeal the Order to LAT. Horse racing licensees can appeal the Order to the HRAP.

LAT hearings are related to:

  • the Registrar’s refusal to licence or register under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA), Gaming Control Act 1992 (GCA), Horse Racing Licence Act 2015 (HRLA) and Cannabis Licence Act 2018 (CLA);
  • other proposed actions by the Registrar under the LLA, GCA, HRLA and CLA;
  • public interest hearings to determine if issuance of a liquor licence or changes to liquor licensed premises is in the public interest; and
  • conducting appeals of orders of monetary penalty assessed by the Registrar.

The following settlements were reached without a LAT hearing:

TABLE 20 – Alcohol-Related Settlements without a Hearing

 

2018–19

2019–20

Number of Settlements agreed to without a hearing

(NOPs and OMPs)

36

98

 

*These settlements are negotiated by the AGCO’s Legal Services Division, based on instructions from the Registrar.

TABLE 21 – Alcohol-Related Public Meeting Conference Calls

If the AGCO receives a written objection to the issuance of a liquor sales licence, a decision is made to either set up a public meeting at the AGCO or issue an NOP to review the licence application, which can be appealed to the LAT. A public meeting is an alternative dispute resolution process and is an informal meeting between the liquor licence applicant, the objectors, and a Deputy Registrar of the AGCO. This meeting may be arranged as a telephone conference call.

 

2018–19

2019–20

Number of Public Meeting Conference Calls

17

15

 

TABLE 22 – Gaming-Related Settlements without a Hearing

 

2018–19

2019–20

Number of Settlements agreed to without a hearing

(Notices of Proposed Order and Orders of Monetary Penalty)

9

5

 

*These settlements are negotiated by the AGCO’s Legal Services Division, based on instructions from the Registrar.

Operating Budget — 2019–2020 Fiscal Year Revenue and Expenditures

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

The AGCO receives its annual budget from the Ministry of the Attorney General’s Printed Estimates, as approved by the Legislature. The AGCO’s budget is made up of 30% base funding from government and recovers most of its regulatory costs, 70%, directly from the industries it regulates.

The AGCO’s mandate expanded in 2018–2019 to include the regulation of private cannabis retail. On December 12, 2019, the Government of Ontario announced its move towards an open market for cannabis.

TABLE 23 – 2019–20 Fiscal Year Revenues and Expenditures

Revenues

2018–19

2019–20

Increase

Fees and Levies

$31,430,776

$29,181,864

($2,248,912)

Total

$31,430,776

$29,181,864

($2,248,912)

Expenditures

Salaries and Benefits

Other Direct Operating Expenses

 

$70,289,183

$12,841,017

 

$73,373,461

$12,460,389

 

$3,084,278

($380,628)

Total Program Expenditures

$83,130,200

$85,833,850

$2,703,650

Less Recoveries

($49,927,865)

(48,490,961)

($1,436,904)

Total

$33,202,335

$37,342,889

$4,140,554

The decrease in Fees and Levies relates to the elimination of the Break Open Ticket (BOT) Provincial Fee effective June 1, 2019, and less money collected from the second Expression of Interest Lottery for a Cannabis Retail Store Authorization. The decrease was slightly offset by additional Grocery Store Authorizations issued to sell beer, wine and/or cider in their stores.

The overall increase in Expenditures is mainly due to additional cannabis spending (Cannabis Eligibility Assessment costs increased in 2019–2020 due to open market for cannabis) and an increase in the cost of employee benefits. These costs were offset by lower spending on other services contracts and a reduction in spending on telecommunications, postage, and travel.

One million dollars of the reduction in recoveries are due to credits to the Services Providers/OLG as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Horse Racing Appeal Panel

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Established through the Horse Racing Licence Act, 2015, the Horse Racing Appeal Panel (HRAP or Panel) is an adjudicative body that is mandated to consider appeals of decisions made under the Rules of Racing.

The HRAP was established as an institutionally independent and impartial adjudicative body that operates at arm’s length from the AGCO. Members are appointed to the HRAP by the AGCO Board of Directors. The HRAP is also provided operational and administrative support by the HRAP Secretariat, which is a unit within the Communications and Corporate Affairs Division of the AGCO. The HRAP Secretariat is operated as a standalone unit and is segregated from other parts of the AGCO organization to support the institutional independence of the HRAP. Although the HRAP Chair and Panel members are appointed by the AGCO Board of Directors, the AGCO has no oversight role or involvement in adjudicative matters overseen by the Panel and has no authority or jurisdiction to intervene in individual cases.

Panel Members

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

HRAP members are appointed by the AGCO Board of Directors based on experience and qualifications and through a competitive, merit-based process. There is broad representation from the various sectors of the industry on the Panel, with various members possessing a background or experience in law, veterinary medicine and pharmacology, governance, and administrative justice.

Stanley Sadinsky

CHAIR

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 21, 2022

Brian Newton

MEMBER

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2023

Sandra Meyrick

VICE-CHAIR

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2023

Bruce Murray

MEMBER

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2023

 

John Charalambous

MEMBER

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2023

Julie Jamieson

Bilingual MEMBER

First Appointed: March 6, 2017

Term Expires: March 5, 2021

Dr. John Hayes

MEMBER

First Appointed: April 1, 2016

Term Expires: March 31, 2023

 

In January 2020, five members (including the Vice-Chair) were renewed for a further term. These re-appointments by the AGCO Board of Directors signal the importance of ensuring the continuity of the Panel and retaining members who have the requisite skills and experience to effectively adjudicate racing appeals and to help manage the tribunal going forward.

Year in Review

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

This report marks the end of four years in operation for the HRAP. The focus of the Panel continues to be to ensure a fair and accessible adjudicative process for all participants and ensuring that it has procedural rules in place to support an efficient and responsive appeal process.

In 2019–2020, the Panel undertook a comprehensive review of its Rules of Procedure as part of its ongoing commitment to continually enhance and improve its appeal process. This review included a targeted consultation with key stakeholders and parties who have extensive experience appearing before the Panel. This is the first time the Panel formally consulted on its Rules of Procedure, and the stakeholder response was strong and constructive. Several procedural changes were ultimately approved by the Panel, with implementation of the changes targeted to be introduced at the start of the 2020–2021 race season.

The number of appeals filed with the Panel increased from the previous year, in large part due to a greater number of urging appeals, which came about following the implementation of new urging rules by the AGCO in May 2019. Concurrently, medication and drug–related appeals continued to fall following rule and procedural changes introduced by the AGCO beginning in 2018.

Novel and interesting matters continued to be raised before the Panel over the past year, including a case where the Panel’s jurisdiction was at issue. In April, the HRAP received an appeal from the Ontario Harness Horse Association (OHHA) with respect to directions issued by the Registrar concerning the distribution of certain marketing funds. The Panel ultimately concluded that the directions of the Registrar fell outside the ambit of the Rules of Racing and therefore were not appealable to the HRAP; however, OHHA has since sought judicial review of the Panel’s decision. A decision by the Divisional Court has not yet been made.

Statistical Report for 2019–2020

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30

Appeals

Number of Notices of Appeal filed with HRAP in 2018–2019

Number of Notices of Appeal filed with HRAP in 2019–2020

41

63

Appeals, by type of infraction

Interference

16

Human Alcohol or Drug

0

Equine Drug or Medication

10

Urging

26

Other Racing Violation

11

Motions

Number of motions

90

Stay Motions

Other Types of Motions

43

47

Hearings

In-Person hearings

Total Hearing Days

47

41

Appeal Hearings

Motion Hearings

25

11

List of Tables

Last Updated: 
2020-09-30