Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Office Snapshot

  • Location: Guelph
  • Lawyers: 10
  • Articling Students: 0
  • Summer Law Students: 1
  • Types of Law: Aboriginal, Access & Privacy, Administrative, Agriculture, Civil, Commercial, Constitutional, Environmental, Real Estate, Real Property

Who we are

The Legal Services Branch of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) provides legal advice based on priorities and strategies as outlined by OMAFRA and/or MAG. These ministry priorities and strategies are dedicated to strengthening Ontario's agri-food sector, enforcing and improving food safety, protecting the environment and strengthening Ontario's rural communities.

What we do

We provide legal advice and opinions with respect to:

  • Legal risk identification analysis and mitigation
  • Drafting and processing legal instruments (contracts, agreements, Memoranda of Understanding, Orders in Council)
  • Procurement
  • Real estate
  • Governance
  • Policy.

We also provide advice to Agencies, Boards and Commissions (adjudicative, regulatory and operational advice).

Branch counsel also:

  • Draft legislation and regulations with the office of legislative counsel
  • Develop and deliver training for clients within the Ministry
  • Represent clients at hearings
  • Participate in litigation management, issues management and commercial transactions
  • Brief the Minister and senior Ministry officials with respect to ministry initiatives and changes in legislation.

We also provide litigation support to MAG’s Constitutional Law Branch (CLB) and Crown Law Office – Civil (CLOC) when CLB and CLOC are defending the Crown’s interests.  While CLB and CLOC are responsible for litigating the matter before all levels of courts, we assist by:

  • Providing factual information about the legislation and policy
  • Liaising between MAG and OMAFRA
  • Helping to formulate litigation strategies
  • Helping to prepare and review court documents
  • Attending court to observe proceedings.

Our major cases

  • Growing Forward Agreements: Growing Forward is a five-year commitment by Canada and Ontario to support the development of a profitable, innovative agri-food sector, in which $300 million has been committed to funding agricultural programs.
  • Ethanol: We provide OMAFRA’s Rural Community Development Branch with advisory and corporate-commercial services on an ongoing basis regarding the Ontario Ethanol Growth Fund (OEGF).  The OEGF is a $520 million program that supports the production of ethanol fuel in Ontario and the development of new investment, jobs and opportunities to rural communities. More specifically, the OEGF provides capital assistance to help operators meet the financial challenges of constructing new ethanol facilities or expanding existing facilities, as well as operating grants to address changing market prices.
  • Food Safety, including meat inspection: We provide OMAFRA’s Food Safety and Food Inspection Branches with operational advice related to the Food Safety and Quality Act, 2001 on an ongoing basis.  This legislation ensures that meat processed in provincially licensed plants for consumption in Ontario meets food safety requirements.
  • Fraser v. Ontario: A case challenging the constitutionality of the exclusion of agricultural workers from collective bargaining rights under the Agricultural Employees Protection Act, 2002 (AEPA) on the basis that it is an unjustifiable infringement of section 2(d) (freedom of association) and section 15(1) (equality rights) of the Charter.  We have been working closely with CLB in defending the constitutionality of the AEPA and were successful at first instance.  The Court of Appeal, however, allowed the appeal on the basis that the AEPA was an unjustifiable infringement of section 2(d) of the Charter. The Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal to Ontario.  As such, we will continue to be involved until the case is finally resolved.

What students do

We provide law students with an opportunity to be an integral part of an expert legal team.  Our goal is to give students the chance to use and develop practical legal skills to carry them forward in their career.  Students are able to put their learned skills to use and in turn make a significant contribution to the projects they work on.  In addition, summer law students at the Legal Services Branch at OMAFRA will gain a better understanding of the specific legal practice areas used in government.

Why choose us

The OMAFRA Legal Services Branch is mid-sized and located in Guelph, Ontario giving students an opportunity to experience working for the Ministry of the Attorney General outside of the Greater Toronto Area.  Our size allows students to work in a smaller office on a wide range of legal issues that help OMAFRA to be a catalyst for transforming agriculture and food sectors and rural communities for a healthy Ontario.  We are a busy office with only one student, who will be exposed to a broad range of opportunities.

Contact us

Lisa Leclerc