“The Ministers were able to update their three-year action plan, review priority projects and start planning for the 2004 conference. It was an exciting, informative and worthwhile event,” said Alberta’s Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Minister Pearl Calahasen.
“Alberta presented an update on the Northern Awareness Enhancement Campaign, which is one of the priority projects. The Ministers underlined the importance of identifying the North and its contributions and innovations to the rest of Canada,” said Gary Friedel, Chair of the Northern Alberta Development Council and MLA for Peace River.
“The key to increasing innovation and creating economic opportunity in Northern British Columbia will be bridging the digital divide,” said British Columbia MLA and Chair of Northern Caucus, Roger Harris. “Premier Gordon Campbell has made a New Era commitment to work to extend high-speed, broadband Internet access to every community in BC through wireless technology, cable, phone lines and fibre-optics. This is key to the future of our communities in the North,” said Harris.
“For many decades, Northern regions have experienced severe challenges recruiting and retaining skilled workers, even during periods of economic growth. The work of this forum has presented clear and practical ways to address these needs within our jurisdictions, providing a model for both the public and private sectors,” said Harvey Bostrom, Deputy Minister of Aboriginal and Northern Affairs for Manitoba.
“Since its inception in 1999, the Northern Development Ministers Forum has heightened the awareness of the contributions of Northern communities to the Canadian economy,” said Ron Bowles, Newfoundland and Labrador Regional Director, Labrador and Aboriginal Affairs. “Much progress has been made on common issues like recruitment, retention and infrastructure development.”
Jim Antoine, Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development for the Government of the Northwest Territories, delivered a presentation on the Northern Infrastructure Strategy and previewed a Web site highlighting Northern investment and infrastructure projects.
“The forum provides an excellent opportunity to discuss common issues and share best practices,” said Cameron Clark, Deputy Minister of Northern Development and Mines, Government of Ontario.
Deputy Minister of Yukon Economic Development Eugene Lysy delivered a presentation on the Yukon Innovation Action Plan at the conference.
“I appreciated the stimulating exchange of ideas and best practices as we strive individually and collectively toward the economic advancement of our respective regions,” said Deputy Minister Lysy. “It is with great pleasure that I represent the people of the Yukon and forge strong partnerships with my Northern colleagues.”