Conférence des Premiers ministres de l’Ouest, 2001


MOOSE JAW, May 31, 2001 -- Western Premiers reaffirmed the need to review National Farm Safety Net and Disaster Programs during 2001. They also called upon the federal government to take more leadership and responsibility for helping farmers compete against unfair international trade subsidies. As an immediate measure, Premiers challenged the federal government to follow the lead of western provinces and remove the fuel tax on farm operations.

Premiers indicated their support for policies and programs to help the agriculture and food industry capture new opportunities. Provinces and territories need to continue to work together and with the federal government in the areas of food safety, animal health, environmental sustainability, transition programming and rural development.

Preventing animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease from entering Canada is a matter of concern to all western provinces and territories. Western Premiers instructed their Agriculture ministers to work together and with their colleagues from the rest of Canada to share information and to coordinate their contingency plans for dealing with such diseases. Western Premiers agreed to discuss regional prevention and containment strategies with Western Governors at their meeting in Idaho in August.

Premiers discussed the economic benefits and future potential of the biotechnology sector. Premiers directed their Ministers of Agriculture to address consumer safety and environmental concerns on a priority basis and on the basis of sound science.

Western Premiers discussed the issues and challenges faced by rural communities and noted that the health and vitality of rural communities benefits all of Canada economically, socially, culturally, and environmentally. Rural areas are not homogeneous and require appropriate, co-ordinated and effective responses from both orders of government. Premiers agreed that the policies and programs developed must reflect the unique circumstances in rural areas. Premiers also discussed the challenges that provinces and territories face in developing their northern economies and called on the federal government to determine how current and future federal programming can best meet the economic development and diversification needs of northern communities.

Western Premiers discussed the issues and challenges faced by rural and remote communities in ensuring that they have access to the transportation network and facilities for economic and social development purposes. Provinces and territories need to work together and with the federal government to ensure that the transportation networks support their economic and social activities. Western Premiers called upon the federal government to partner with them by committing meaningful funding towards transportation infrastructure, particularly roads.

Western Premiers shared their plans and initiatives to support access to affordable high speed broadband Internet services. Western Premiers discussed the importance of ensuring that high speed broadband internet services be available to Aboriginal communities to allow them to take advantage of growing economic opportunities. Western Premiers emphasized the responsibility of the federal government to ensure that these services are developed in these communities.

Note: Mr. Gordon Campbell, Premier-elect of British Columbia, attended the 2001 Western Premiers' Conference. However, in his current role as Premier-elect, Mr. Campbell was unable to give the official endorsement of the Province of British Columbia to the positions and commitments outlined in this Communiqué.

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