38th Annual Premiers’ Conference


ST. ANDREWS - August 8, 1997 — Premiers reaffirmed their readiness to negotiate a new long term national infrastructure program with the federal government. Premiers emphasized the importance of a new program having a value comparable to the original program and agreed it should focus on strategic infrastructure, including transportation infrastructure, which would enhance competitiveness and long term employment growth and stability.

It was also agreed that flexibility should be the hallmark of any new program. Such flexibility could include arrangements to allow the federal, provincial and territorial governments to partner with each other, with municipalities, or with the private sector.

Premiers also reaffirmed their support for the proposed guidelines for a new national infrastructure program which all provinces and territories endorsed at the 1996 Annual Premiers' Conference in Jasper, Alberta. Those guidelines emphasized that the new program should be consistent with current fiscal frameworks.

Premiers agreed that Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Finance and Transportation should review and report to Premiers on these guidelines particularly with reference to funding mechanisms, fiscal capacity and regional disparity concerns.

Premiers acknowledged that the Northwest Territories and Yukon are particularly dependent on the highway system for access to the rest of Canada and for access to communities, resources, economic development, tourism and trade. They agreed that special consideration should be given to the needs of remote northern regions in developing funding arrangements for a highway system to provide access for tourism and economic development.

Premiers agreed that the federal government must not transfer further transportation related infrastructure to provinces and territories without prior consultation and the compensation necessary to ensure their viability.

Premiers also discussed the concerns of western provinces arising from last year's grain transportation backlog. Premiers support the western provinces in calling for an independent and impartial review of grain transportion that can receive input from all stakeholders including shippers and producers, and which will develop modern logistics solutions on a system wide basis.