Wednesday, December 14, 2011
New West Partnership Premiers commit to Ottawa Mission
Canada’s three western-most Premiers agreed on developing a joint mission to Ottawa in 2012 to engage the federal government on several key issues including a Canadian Energy Strategy, immigration, labour market development and greenhouse gas regulations.
Premiers recognize that the New West Partnership plays a critical role in the growth of the Canadian economy. They agreed to intensify the role of the partnership in promoting the political interests of the New West within Confederation.
As western partners, the Premiers are focused on the importance of a Canadian Energy Strategy for the west and all of Canada. “The three western provinces need to play a global leadership role in meeting the world’s energy demands,” said Alison Redford, Premier of Alberta. “Western Canada is in a position where we can increase production to meet growing demand in an environmentally responsible manner.”
During their meeting on December 13 in Edmonton, Premiers also focused on labour market development in the west. They agreed to further explore a number of avenues to address labour market needs, including immigration, training and aboriginal employment.
“As western provinces are facing an increasing labour shortage in the coming years, it’s vital we work together with the federal government to ensure our labour market strategies match the needs of our growing provinces,” said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.
In this work, Premiers intend to continue to build on the strong foundation of the New West Partnership Trade Agreement, which provides for ease of movement for domestic and international workers and which has established full labour mobility for approximately 120 regulated occupations, such as teachers, engineers, social workers and welders.
Premiers discussed the upcoming Council of the Federation meeting in Victoria, including ways and measures to address the sustainability of the health care system. They stressed that new measures must focus on patient care. The Premiers also agreed that the federal government should continue to provide the current 6% escalator in the Canada Health Transfer to support health innovation.
Premiers also emphasized the importance of promoting western Canada to new international markets and the need for innovation in health care, agriculture, energy and environmental technologies in support of long-term economic growth.
“The emerging markets in Asia represent a tremendous opportunity for the New West Partnership and we need to make sure we are doing everything possible to develop those markets,” said British Columbia Premier Christy Clark. “All three of our provinces have resources that other countries need. We must open those markets and make sure we have the infrastructure to get those goods there.”
The Premiers took the opportunity to discuss western Canada’s relationship with the U.S., the region’s important role as a leader in the development of the Canadian energy strategy, and their unwavering support for open trade.
The Premiers also focused on government procurement practices and procedures. They noted that there have been important successes in health care, such as medical supplies and equipment. These successes could be brought to other areas to advance cost savings opportunities, increase efficiencies and reduce administrative burdens for suppliers.
Examples of NWP success include, removing labour barriers, streamlining business registration and reporting requirements and common regulations and practices in the transportation sector. Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan launched the New West Partnership in 2010 creating an economic powerhouse of nine-million people with a combined GDP of more than $550 billion. The New West Partnership creates Canada’s largest interprovincial barrier-free trade and investment market that sees the three westernmost provinces working together in unprecedented ways to the benefit of workers, businesses and investors in all three provinces. The New West Partnership Agreement can be viewed at www.newwestpartnership.ca.