Delivering on our mandate by continuing to support the sectors and industries we regulate
COVID-19 cast a dark shadow over the whole 2020–2021 fiscal year and on behalf of the Board, let me start by saying that our thoughts go out to all those who have suffered from the effects of this terrible pandemic. Equally, we remain deeply thankful to all those front-line workers – including in our own organization – who have worked tirelessly to help keep others safe and our economies moving forward.
This year was one of tremendous change for everyone – the province, the agency, and our stakeholders. Despite these unprecedented challenges, we delivered on our mandate by continuing to support the alcohol, gaming, horse racing and cannabis retail sectors, supporting economic relief measures, introducing new initiatives, and reducing red tape and regulatory burdens that were all positively received by licensees, registrants, and stakeholders. We also began work on our new igaming line of business, further enhancing our commitment to being a modern regulator, in today’s ever-changing climate. AGCO staff continued to meet the needs of the public, while working remotely. The Board remains grateful for their dedication to serve Ontarians.
I am pleased to announce the addition of two new Board Members to the AGCO Board this year. Neil Desai joined the Board in September 2020, and Heidi Reinhart joined us in October 2020. Neil brings extensive knowledge of cybersecurity as well as previous experience serving the federal government. Heidi brings a wealth of expertise in securities and corporate law, with a strong penchant for corporate governance. I look forward to their impact on the agency. In 2020–2021, we bid farewell to Elmer Buchanan, Tony Williams, and Philip Leong; former Board members who completed their terms. Elmer and Tony both joined the AGCO in 2016, and Philip joined us in 2019. Tony has also moved over to the Horse Racing Appeals Panel as a Panel member. We thank them for their service to the Board, this agency as a whole and the people of Ontario.
I would like to take a moment to recognize the outgoing AGCO CEO, Jean Major, who retired in September 2020. Jean’s leadership and commitment has had a profound impact on the agency. To honour his legacy, the AGCO has created the Jean Major Public Service Award of Excellence, to be awarded annually to the staff member who embodies a commitment to selflessness.
I would also like to extend a warm welcome to Tom Mungham, who took over at the helm in September 2020 as CEO and Registrar. Tom previously served as the agency’s Chief Operating Officer and has been an invaluable member of the C-Suite team for the better part of the last 15 years. I am so grateful to have Tom’s strong leadership skills and dedication to Ontarians and staff alike – especially in these tumultuous times. Tom continues to move forward with his commitment to enhancing service to customers, and improving all aspects of the agency, including the expansion of the new regulatory igaming line of business, and taking steps towards modernizing the liquor sector. Under Tom’s leadership, the agency continues to be a forward-looking employer and one that is building towards the workplace of the future. I would also like to recognize that there were a number of leadership changes within the C-Suite team over this past year due to retirements. The Board has very much enjoyed working with this new team and is looking forward to the continued collaboration with the team in the year to come.
This year also brought additional changes to the agency when the government, in its 2020 Budget, announced that in addition to regulating Ontario’s existing gaming market, the AGCO will establish a subsidiary to conduct and manage registered third-party operators in the igaming market, independent of its role as regulator. We are excited to undertake this work to implement the government’s objective of establishing a competitive Ontario market that will bring the unregulated market’s online gaming operators into Ontario’s legal market, including a robust consumer protection framework.
As part of the Auditor General of Ontario’s Annual Report released in December 2020, the Auditor General reported on her Value for Money audit of the AGCO. The AGCO welcomed the Auditor General’s recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of the AGCO’s regulatory activities and has committed to implementing an action plan to address the findings of the report. I would also like to express my thanks to the AGCO staff that helped support the audit and the processes it entailed.
Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility is one of the key initiatives of the AGCO’s Corporate Plan. The leadership team and staff have worked diligently this year to support the development of a strategy that will be used to guide and inform all aspects of our work. The Board will continue to support this evolving strategy which ensures our workforce is reflective of Ontario’s demographic diversity and one that is free of discrimination and harassment while delivering services in an accessible, culturally aware, relevant, and responsive way. Thank you to all AGCO staff for another outstanding year. I am privileged to be associated with public servants that care so deeply for the work they do, and the sectors the AGCO regulates. I look forward to another year of progress and continued advancements to how we service Ontarians.