RURAL AND REMOTE COMMUNITIES
Western Premiers discussed the importance of rural and remote communities in the economic, social and cultural fabric of western and northern Canada. They also discussed the critical role of rural and remote northern communities in exercising Canadian sovereignty. Premiers discussed the need to develop infrastructure in the North that supports growth, given the early stages of development there.
Western Premiers recognize that the economic development of the territories is critical to Canada’s future.
Premiers encouraged the federal government to work with the territories on their infrastructure priorities. These include the Mackenzie Valley Highway in the Northwest Territories, re-construction and improvements to the highway network in the Yukon and Arctic marine infrastructure in Nunavut. These critical projects are necessary to unlock the economic potential of the North and to address the high cost of living in rural and remote communities.
Premiers also discussed how improved and expanded transportation infrastructure in rural and remote communities promotes economic development and diversification, reduces the cost of living, improves quality of life and is a key element in ensuring the vitality and sustainability of these communities. Investments in infrastructure effectively link these communities to markets, services and businesses and enable these communities to further contribute to western prosperity.
Improving outcomes for Aboriginal students is vital. Therefore, Premiers call on the federal government to work with provinces, territories, and Aboriginal governments and organizations to eliminate the education gap.
Premiers recognize the improvements in graduation rates in Nunavut. Premiers believe all Canadian children should have access to quality education and Nunavut will share its best practices with other jurisdictions.
Ensuring that federal per student funding in schools in their area of responsibility is comparable to that of provincial and territorially-funded institutions is critically important to all our jurisdictions.
Premiers recognize the merits of increasing technology-assisted learning in rural and remote communities and the importance of investments in infrastructure such as broad-band access.
Premiers focussed on the need to develop alternative energy sources as complementary sources that would reduce dependency on diesel as the single fuel source for rural and remote communities.
Premiers recognize that private and public investment in infrastructure and technologies is required to support the energy aspect of sustainable rural and remote communities. In particular, the development of hydro, wind, solar, and wave/tidal power will require significant investments in applied research.
Strong local leadership is an essential element in ensuring safe drinking water. Premiers encourage local governments and First Nations to cooperate on a local or regional basis to increase efficiencies and share resources.
Western Premiers also recognize that knowledgeable, certified water and wastewater operators play an essential role providing safe drinking water to communities. Premiers commit to provide rural and remote communities better tools to attract and support high quality operators by:
o directing Ministers responsible to ensure credentials for water and wastewater operators are standardized across all western provinces and territories so there are no barriers to employment of qualified water operators; and,
o directing Ministers responsible to work with training institutions to support, and strengthen where needed, distance education and regional training opportunities for water and wastewater operators to maintain standards and stay current on best practices.
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Contact: Ian Hanna
Advisor to the Premier
Government of Saskatchewan