Whitehorse, Yukon (February 9, 2007) – Ministers who are members of the Northern Development Ministers’ Forum met in Whitehorse, Yukon this week for their annual two-day meeting. Under the theme Knowledge North, the meeting brought together representatives from all northern jurisdictions in Canada to discuss key common issues for northern development.
Yukon Minister of Economic Development Jim Kenyon hosted and chaired the Northern Development Ministers’ Forum on behalf of the Government of Yukon. “This forum has been a tremendous opportunity to further strengthen partnerships among northern jurisdictions as we continue to work to build sustainable northern economies,” said Kenyon. “I am pleased to participate in valuable projects which encourage exchanging ideas, exploring opportunities, and advancing common interests for northerners.”
A highlight of the Whitehorse forum was the presentation of a number of Internet-based tools to provide a window into the economic importance and potential of the North.
“This forum is an excellent opportunity for governments to share ideas as well as discuss common issues, challenges and approaches to developing the vast economic potential of Canada's northern regions," said the Honourable Jim Prentice, Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians. "I am looking forward to hosting the next meeting in Ottawa, where the theme will be The Dynamic North.”
Other discussions at the Forum included: maximization of economic and social benefits from major projects; northern innovation; education, training and employment; and investment in transportation infrastructure.
Ministers expressed satisfaction with the work completed at the Whitehorse forum. The discussions helped strengthen their commitment to work together to implement, respectively, actions required to develop the full potential of northern regions.
The Northern Development Ministers’ Forum was established in 2001 to promote the diverse interests of northerners and the accomplishments, contributions and potential within northern jurisdictions of Canada.
Observations by Ministers in Attendance
“The Northern Development Ministers’ Forum is a shining example of the benefits derived when governments share ideas and practices,” said Vincent Auclair, parliamentary assistant to Quebec’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Regions. “I am particularly pleased that an issue like the effects of global warming in the North, which concerns all governments, will be included on the next forum’s agenda.”
Honourable Dennis MacKay, MLA for Bulkley Valley-Stikine, attending the Forum on behalf of Honourable Colin Hansen, Minister of Economic Development for British Columbia, said, "British Columbia is pleased to join with the federal government, our fellow provinces and territories to share and collaborate on ideas, in order to build upon the limitless opportunities and potential of the North. The Northwest, in particular, is opening up as Canada's Pacific Gateway to Asia".
Saskatchewan Northern Affairs Minister Joan Beatty said, “This forum is an excellent occasion to share ideas for building better futures for people in the North. For example, I was able to share, with my colleagues, Saskatchewan’s experiences in creating local job and business opportunities for northerners from natural resource development and from important government investments such as our Northern Roads Strategy. In the future, I hope this forum can focus on the important issues facing northern youth.”
Manitoba Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Oscar Lathlin said, "The Northern Development Ministers Forum deals with many of the same priorities of our own Northern Development Strategy. The commitment of Forum members to work together has been a major factor in the success of this federal/provincial/territorial event. Each year the event has been held in a different Northern jurisdiction to acquaint members with the best practices of that region. Last year we were very pleased to host the forum at Opaskwayak Cree Nation in Northern Manitoba. The calibre of the joint presentations each year continues to be impressive and this year continued this record."
Alberta Minister of Employment, Immigration and Industry Iris Evans said, “This forum was a wonderful opportunity to share experiences, and ideas about how we can better promote northern development to benefit all Albertans and, in fact, all Canadians.”
The Honourable Tom Rideout, Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs for the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador said, “I am extremely pleased with the progress made on the Education, Training and Employment priority project, of which our jurisdiction has played a significant role. Like many other parts of the country, northern regions of Newfoundland and Labrador are facing a skilled labour shortage, particularly as it relates to major resource based developments. All jurisdictions have made this issue a priority, and this particular project has aimed to identify practices that contribute to improved access to education and training and therefore desirable employment outcomes for people in these regions. I look forward to the completion of this project, and to the implementation of its various findings.”