St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador – June 7, 2007. Federal/Provincial/Territorial Ministers responsible for Internal Trade met today in St. John’s. The meeting was chaired by the Honourable Trevor Taylor, Newfoundland and Labrador Minister for Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. Established under the Agreement on Internal Trade (1994), the Committee on Internal Trade (CIT) meets annually to review progress on reducing or eliminating barriers to trade, investment and labour mobility across Canada.
“I am pleased to welcome the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to St. John’s, and to this historic first meeting with the Committee on Internal Trade,” said the Honourable Trevor Taylor, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. “As the economies of our provinces grow, and as we increasingly depend on each other as markets for our products and services and for labour, it is important that we reduce barriers to internal trade.”
The meeting marked the first formal consultation between the Committee and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to exchange views on the state of interprovincial trade in Canada. Ministers welcomed this opportunity for closer dialogue with a leading voice of the business community.
Ministers reviewed progress on the ambitious “action plan” to strengthen the AIT launched at the CIT Annual Meeting in Halifax in 2006.
A key initiative is a strategy to improve labour mobility by April 1, 2009 when Canadians will be able to work anywhere in Canada without restrictions on labour mobility. The Committee received a detailed workplan from the Forum of Labour Market Ministers (FLMM) to ensure that all existing regulated occupations are in full compliance with AIT provisions by this deadline. Ministers agreed to forward to the FLMM for consideration Minister Bernier’s proposal to implement mutual recognition of occupational qualifications by default by April 1, 2009.
Ministers welcomed the recent implementation of the Seventh Protocol of Amendment to the AIT which strengthens the dispute resolution mechanism. Ministers also approved revisions to the complaint procedures applicable to provinces under Chapter Five on procurement. The Committee has presented the Council of the Federation (COF) with options for strengthening enforcement of AIT panel rulings and awaits Premiers’ direction in August.
The Committee has requested Energy Ministers to move quickly to finalize their work on an AIT energy chapter.
Ministers received a status report from the Co-Chairs of the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Working Group on Regulatory Reform (WGRR) on efforts to improve regulatory reform across Canada. The report included a list of regulatory principles common to every jurisdiction in Canada, some of the projects under way on Regulatory Impact Assessment and tools to measure regulatory performance. The Committee instructed trade officials to continue to cooperate with regulatory officials and to identify priority sectors where regulatory reform would be more beneficial and bring them to the attention of the Council of the Federation.
Ministers heard a presentation from Ontario on innovation and competitiveness, and agreed to ask Federal-Provincial-Territorial finance ministers to move quickly on the items tabled. Provincial ministers have agreed to come together to advance a competitiveness agenda in the near future.
The ministers look forward to further progress reports by agriculture ministers to expand the scope and coverage of the AIT Chapter on agriculture and food groups.
The Committee also directed trade officials to continue to work to address the issue of business subsidies and, as part of this work, to review and analyze the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) signed by Alberta and B.C. to determine elements which might be imported into the AIT.
Ministers welcomed a presentation from Government of Nunavut officials who tabled a proposal to formally join the AIT. Nunavut is not a Party to the AIT as the AIT preceded the formation of Nunavut in 1999. Discussions on accession will commence in the near future.
The Committee is due to meet next in June 2008 under the chairmanship of British Columbia.
Director of Communications
Innovation, Trade and Rural Development
Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
Anna Maria Magnifico