Conférence de 2014 des premiers ministres de l’Ouest canadien


IQALUIT,  Nunavut (July 10, 2014) –  Western Premiers met in Iqaluit over the past two days and emphasized the importance of  continued economic growth in the West. Premiers discussed a number of priorities  including labour market development, market access and internal trade. They  also acknowledged the vital role that rural and remote communities play in the  prosperity of Canada.

Developing the Labour Market

The  need for skilled labour continues to increase in Western Canada. With a number  of major projects either underway or in the development phase, existing labour  shortages are only expected to deepen.

Premiers  agreed that residents in their rural and remote communities need to be prepared  to take advantage of increased job opportunities from the growing economy. They  emphasized the shared role of employers, industry and government in skills  development and on-the-job training to build capacity at the local level,  particularly in Aboriginal and northern communities.

Having  trusted, reliable, and up-to-date labour market information is essential for  governments, employers, and for workers making employment decisions. Premiers  discussed the importance of prioritizing the use of data to make joint  decisions, and committed to sharing labour market information.  

Western  Premiers agreed to:

  • call on their Labour Market Ministers to  continue developing opportunities for individuals in rural and remote  communities to build the skills needed to benefit from economic development;
  • ask Western Labour Market Ministers to  prepare a report on labour mobility and demand of major projects within the  western provinces and territories;
  • show leadership and cooperation in supporting  worker mobility by enhancing the transferability of post-secondary and trades  education credits, including competency-based assessments; and
  • call on the federal government to provide  better access to existing data from areas of federal jurisdiction, such as  Employment Insurance data by economic development region and tax data.

When  discussing changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) announced by  the federal government on June 20, 2014, Premiers agreed that it is important  to ensure Canadians have the first chance at the available jobs, and that  employers should be held responsible for violating the rules of the program.  However, Premiers are concerned that the recent changes go too far in  restricting access to the program. Western Canada has a strong economy and  unique labour market needs that often make it necessary for employers to rely  on foreign workers when qualified Canadians cannot be found. Limiting the  ability to hire foreign workers to address critical labour shortages will  unduly punish responsible employers in Western Canada, particularly those in  smaller and remote communities where Canadian workers are not readily available.  Premiers also noted that temporary foreign workers  often transition to permanent residency, such as through the Provincial and  Territorial Nominee Programs, and become long-term contributors to the labour  force.  Premiers emphasized the need to ensure that the planned overhaul of Canada’s  economic immigration system in 2015 is responsive to the diverse needs of  western Canadian jurisdictions.

In advance of the FPT Labour Market Ministers’  meeting, Western Premiers discussed their concern about the federal  government’s intention to alter provincial-territorial Labour Market  Development Agreements (LMDA). 

Labour Market Development Agreements enable provinces and territories to  provide direct assistance to Employment Insurance-eligible clients, ensuring  they attain the valuable skills required to return to the workforce as quickly  as possible. Premiers noted that existing programs have proven to successfully  support Canadians getting the training they need to get back to work. Western  Premiers also noted that the responsibility over skills training has been  devolved by the federal government to provinces and territories, as they are  best placed to better deliver training and support programs that meet local  needs. The federal government has provided no evidence that any change in  approach is needed. Western Premiers will also discuss this issue at the  2014 Summer Meeting of Canada’s Premiers in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island  later this summer.

Western  Premiers also discussed the challenges posed by the timing of LMDA and TFWP changes.  Premiers urged the federal government to:

  • consider how these changes may reduce labour  availability; and
  • engage in a collaborative dialogue with  western Canadian provinces and territories to explore ways to accommodate the  unique labour challenges of the region. 

Improving Market Access

Western  Premiers congratulated the federal government on concluding the Canada-Korea  Free Trade Agreement. They welcomed federal  efforts to secure further free trade agreements (FTAs) with key markets to  strengthen Canada’s competitiveness and urged the rapid conclusion of ambitious  FTAs, including the Canada European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade  Agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral agreements with  India and Japan.

Premiers noted that an ambitious TPP would improve Canada’s access  to the Asia-Pacific region and ensure that Canada remains a preferred market  for the United States (US).  US protectionism continues to be a concern  for Premiers.  Premiers supported the federal government’s work in the US  and in international forums, to address US Protectionism, particularly the Grow  America Act.

Premiers  also discussed the need for improved bilateral air transport agreements to  ensure western provinces and territories can fully capitalize on the FTAs.

Canada’s trade success hinges on having an effective  and efficient transportation system to reliably get goods and services to  market. To this end, Western Premiers:

  • welcome a transparent review by the federal  government of the Canada Transportation  Act, focusing on regulatory and policy changes to improve the competitive  environment and balance the relationship between shippers and railways;
  • call on the federal  government to expand monitoring systems and information sharing and ensure full  transparency between stakeholders involved in Canada’s supply chain system; and
  • call on the federal  government to work with provinces, territories and the private sector to ensure  that gateway facilities and transportation networks, in particular the  Asia-Pacific gateway, accommodate current and future exports. 

Modernizing Internal Trade

Premiers agreed it is  essential to accelerate cooperative efforts to strengthen Canada’s economic  union. Western Premiers support an ambitious modernization agenda to  achieve substantial progress. Premiers noted that the original Agreement on  Internal Trade (AIT) was signed as a direct result of Premiers’ leadership in  1994 and took effect in 1995. Since that time, significant progress has been  made by the provinces and territories to broaden the AIT’s coverage on labour  mobility and public procurement, to remove technical barriers in the  agriculture and foods sector, and to put in place an enforceable dispute  resolution mechanism.

Western Premiers remain  committed to the objectives originally set out in the 1994 Agreement.   However, the Canadian economy and the global trading environment within which  Canada operates have evolved since the AIT was signed. As such, bold new steps  must be taken to maximize our country’s ability to be globally competitive and  to ensure consistency between our internal and international trade agreements.

Exploring Solutions for Off-Grid  Communities

Western Premiers are  committed to supporting economic growth throughout the West and noted the  challenges faced by some off-grid and remote communities that rely on  diesel-fueled energy generation technologies, which are often expensive and  emissions intensive. Premiers agreed that resource development and community  and economic growth should be enhanced through the availability of innovative  off-grid energy solutions in these communities.

Western Premiers  directed their Energy Ministers to work on identifying barriers to the  reduction of diesel use in off-grid communities and ways to increase access to  affordable, clean, and reliable supplies of energy. Ministers are asked to  focus on practical solutions that use innovative technologies that can be  applied to small communities. Premiers directed Energy Ministers to report back  on this work at the Western Premiers’ Conference in 2015. Western Premiers will also work with their  colleagues across the country in addressing this issue through the Canadian Energy  Strategy.

Improving Access to Housing

Western Premiers recognized that access to stable  and affordable housing is fundamental to a strong economy and to the health and  well-being of western Canadians. Adequate housing  allows families to participate more readily in the workforce, reduces  dependencies on costly government programs such as healthcare, policing and  justice and increases the level of academic achievement attained by children  and youth. This is particularly evident in Aboriginal and northern communities.  Premiers stressed the need to work with the federal government to develop a  long-term, sustainable partnership to support housing needs.

Addressing Aboriginal Child Welfare

Western Premiers discussed the disproportionate and  large number of Aboriginal children taken into care across the country. They  recognized the need for governments to work in consultation with Aboriginal  communities to address this Canada-wide problem.

Western Premiers urge the federal government to show  leadership and commit to working in partnership with provinces, territories and  Aboriginal communities to address these critical issues facing Aboriginal  children and families.

Western  Premiers directed provincial and territorial Social Services Ministers work  with Aboriginal Affairs Ministers to consider ways to reduce the number of  Aboriginal children taken into care by child welfare authorities and to improve  the quality of care.

Disaster Management and Assistance

Western  Premiers discussed the frequency and severity of recent natural disasters,  including current major floods in Manitoba and Saskatchewan, and stressed the  critical importance of continuing strong, reliable federal support for disaster  management and recovery assistance.

Premiers  call on the federal government to:

  • broaden the definition of a “disaster  event” to include multiple smaller events that have large, cumulative impacts;
  • maintain its longstanding 90-10 cost-sharing  arrangement for disaster recovery; and
  • allow communities to rebuild to a higher,  more resilient standard.

They  praised first responders and Canada's military for their exemplary efforts in  dealing with emergency situations across the country and acknowledged that they  had been key to saving lives and livelihoods. Noting that advance planning and  investment in disaster mitigation infrastructure have been proven to reduce the  scale and costs of natural disasters, Western Premiers called on the federal  government to substantially strengthen its new mitigation programs to enable  provinces, territories and Aboriginal communities to move ahead quickly with  high-priority flood protection and other projects.  

2015  Western Premiers’ Conference

Premier Wall confirmed that Saskatchewan will host next year’s Western  Premiers’ Conference.


Contact  Information:
Yasmina Pepa
Press  Secretary to Premier Taptuna