41st Annual Premiers’ Conference


WINNIPEG, AUGUST 11, 2000 --Premiers discussed a range of infrastructure related issues and noted that infrastructure and transportation development are key contributors to the overall competitiveness of the Canadian economy. They reviewed the status of their negotiations with the federal government on the National Infrastructure Program and considered Canada-wide transportation infrastructure requirements. Premiers agreed that investments in these areas must be increased substantially in order to enhance competitiveness and facilitate long-term economic growth.

Premiers reiterated their existing consensus that funding for transportation, particularly highway systems, and other basic infrastructure should be major components of new federal infrastructure investments. Provinces and territories are already devoting substantial funds to transportation and infrastructure development. Premiers are committed to investing more in these important areas. They urged the federal government to complement their commitment to infrastructure and transportation funding.

Premiers noted the importance of adequate transportation infrastructure in maintaining Canada's trade relationship with the United States. Over $1 billion in trade takes place daily between the two countries; the majority of this trade is in goods that are carried by trucks. While the Government of Canada's funding contribution to major transportation projects is minimal, the United States Government has recently announced $218 billion (US$) for transportation projects over six years.

Premiers agreed that action is required to ensure that Canada has comparable transportation capacity to that being attained by our major trading partners. They called for the funding and implementation of a Canada-wide transportation strategy, as developed by federal/provincial/territorial Ministers of Transportation. Premiers indicated that this strategy must be equitable and flexible enough to accommodate the variety of transportation investment needs among jurisdictions which could include: completing and upgrading major road trade corridors, including the Trans Canada Highway; relieving urban congestion; enhancing border crossings; and connecting remote areas.

Premiers acknowledged the particular challenges faced by remote and sparsely populated regions. They agreed that special consideration should be given to the Territories and to remote communities in meeting their infrastructure and transportation requirements.


Premiers expressed their deep concern over the impacts of the merger of Air Canada and Canadian Airlines on regional service to smaller communities as well as in major centres throughout Canada. Decreased passenger and cargo capacity, high ticket pricing, and scheduling problems are significant concerns in many parts of the country. Sectors such as tourism are particularly vulnerable, and affordable and accessible service must continue to be available to support local and remote communities, the public and operators.

Canada needs effective and viable air transport services to strengthen investment and jobs. Canadian businesses must have access to a modern, competitive, effective and efficient air transport network to meet the needs of the 21st century.

Premiers agreed that they must work together to ensure that the federal government puts in place the proper safeguards that will ensure that Air Canada provides high quality, affordable passenger and cargo services in all regions of Canada in both English and French. It is absolutely essential that the federal government puts in place a regulatory structure that ensures vigorous competition in the airline industry, including international competition.

Premiers also called on Ottawa to live up to its responsibilities, including the provision of adequate funding to address capital and operating requirements, to ensure that airports devolved to local authorities remain viable and that air travel remains safe.


Premiers discussed the importance of agriculture to the economy of all regions of Canada and noted that the agriculture industry is going through a historic period of change. They expressed confidence that the agriculture sector will adjust and adapt to global markets and continue to be a major contributor to the Canadian economy.

Premiers discussed the growth potential of biotechnology industries in the context of benefits to consumers and society and noted the role that Canada's agriculture and food industries have to play. They agreed on the continued importance of addressing consumer and environmental concerns and noted the importance of maintaining Canada's world reputation for food safety. Science-based procedures, such as those developed by Health Canada and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, ensure food safety and environmental protection and are applied to all new agriculture and food products, including those developed through biotechnology. Premiers emphasized, as a priority, the need to address consumer safety and environmental concerns on the basis of sound science.

Premiers agreed that a successful outcome in the new round of agriculture negotiations in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) is essential for the long-term viability and growth of the Canadian agri-food sector. They agreed that current international trade practices in agriculture continue to be a major contributing factor to depressed farm incomes in the grains, oilseeds, forage crops and livestock sectors in Canada.

Accordingly, Premiers called on the federal government to aggressively pursue: the international elimination of export subsidies, the elimination of, or at least a substantial reduction in, production and trade distorting domestic subsidies; greater disciplines on all other forms of subsidy; a liberalized trade regime; and substantial increases in market access for Canadian agricultural and food products. They encouraged Canada to work more closely with the 'Cairns Group' of agriculture exporting countries to achieve these objectives in the WTO.

Premiers also called on the federal government to ensure that the WTO's rules on technical barriers to trade and plant and animal health and safety remain based on sound science so that they do not become disguised impediments to international market access for Canada's agricultural and food products, while maintaining the right of governments to take necessary measures to protect health and safety in their jurisdiction.

Premiers further noted that Canada is active in the agriculture negotiations pertaining to the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) and called on the federal government to pursue strong subsidy and market access objectives in the FTAA as well as in the WTO.

Finally, Premiers discussed the state of bilateral agricultural trade with the United States. They lent their support to the bilateral Canada-U.S. Record of Understanding (ROU) on Agricultural Trade as the preferred mechanism for resolving agricultural trade irritants with the U.S., and they noted and strongly endorsed the work of their Ministers of Agriculture in the Provinces-States Advisory Group in relation to the ROU. Further, Premiers recognized the important role that provinces and territories can play in informal dispute settlement by establishing and maintaining effective working relations with U.S. state governments and their associations.


Premiers reaffirmed the importance of continuing to provide a high level of environmental protection, supporting sustainable development, meeting environmental responsibilities, and ensuring efficient forms of economic growth.

Premiers discussed several critical environmental issues including protection of endangered species, review of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and climate change, including the potential impact on the various regions of Canada. On these matters, Premiers stressed that the federal government must recognize the role of provinces and territories and respect their responsibilities.

Premiers agreed it is important to protect endangered species and reaffirmed their support for the "National Accord for the Protection of Species at Risk." They expressed concern with the duplicative measures contained in the new federal Bill C-33, the Species at Risk Act. Premiers noted that the proposed legislation would enable federal intrusion on management responsibilities for provincial land and natural resources. They called on the federal government to work with provinces and territories to ensure that the proposed federal approach respects jurisdictional responsibilities and complements provincial programs and actions to protect species at risk.

Premiers agreed that changes are required to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act to recognize the need for a "one project-one assessment" approach to ensure more effective and timely environmental assessments and to recognize the processes that provinces and territories already have in place. They urged the federal government to incorporate the common set of proposals developed by provinces and territories that improve the assessment process by clarifying federal and provincial/territorial responsibilities in environmental assessments.

Premiers discussed the need to undertake reasonable actions to pursue the most efficient and cost-effective options to reduce greenhouse gases. They called on the federal government to ensure meaningful provincial/territorial participation in ongoing international climate change negotiations and in key Canada-wide and international discussions.


Premiers acknowledged the efforts by northern governments to establish an economic partnership with the Government of Canada, which will assist in capitalizing on the wealth of the North. Premiers called on the federal government to work with Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories to provide economic development assistance and to promote strategic private sector investments now in order to maximize benefits from economic growth. Premiers agreed that strong northern economies will reduce dependencies and are beneficial to all Canadians.

Premiers supported the three Territories in their efforts for devolution of complete jurisdiction over crown lands, minerals and natural resources. Devolution is a key to long-term economic self-reliance and responsible government in the North and must be done in a manner that respects the priorities and values of each territory.

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