June 15, 2005
SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick � Premier Bernard Lord
hosted the 11th Council of Atlantic Premiers today in Saint John. Premiers Binns
and Hamm were joined by the Hon. Tom Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney
General and Minister for Intergovernmental Affairs of Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Atlantic premiers agreed to continue their cooperative approach to advancing
Atlantic Canada�s economy and a renewed relationship with the federal government
to address regional priorities.
Building on Progress: Atlantic Action Plan 2005-08
The Atlantic premiers released their new action plan, Building on Progress,
which outlines how the provinces will work together to enhance the provision of
quality and efficient public services as well as to foster a more competitive
Action steps to improve public services over the next three years include:
- working to improve public health research
- creating a Council of Atlantic Ministers of
- exploring more opportunities for joint
- working together on cross-border policing
legislation in all four provinces.
To grow a competitive regional economy, the plan
- addressing the renewal of post-secondary
education infrastructure to meet the needs of our universities and community
- strengthening skills and labour market
programs and investing in R&D
- working to jointly promote the Atlantic
provinces to potential immigrants
- increasing economic growth through
infrastructure improvement and seamless trade corridors across the region
- establishing an Atlantic Forestry Committee
- developing and implementing an energy
efficiency awareness campaign.
The plan is the second the Council has developed
since it was created in 2000. Building on Progress continues and expands some of
the initiatives launched under the Council�s first action plan, Working
Together for Atlantic Canada 2001-2003. These initiatives included the
creation of an Atlantic Ministers� Forum on Energy and the development of a
harmonized trucking strategy.
The plan is available on the Council of Atlantic Premiers� website at
In recognition of the benefits of increased immigration and its role in
addressing demographic and labour market challenges in the Atlantic
provinces, premiers agreed to collaborate on initiatives designed to recruit
and retain increased numbers of immigrants to the region. While the four
Atlantic provinces compete for immigrants, there are opportunities for
cooperation especially in building awareness of the region and sharing best
practices. Economies of scale can be achieved by cooperating.
Considering the views of stakeholders in the Atlantic provinces and the
increasing interest of municipalities in immigration, premiers agreed to
direct ministers responsible for immigration to explore with the federal
government ways to foster increased immigration to the region through
proactive measures such as joint promotion of the region and increased
settlement funding to address the lack of infrastructure in smaller centers.
Agrifood Action Plan
Premiers continue to support a procurement strategy to promote consumption
of locally produced food products in the region.
Premiers directed Atlantic ministers responsible for the food sector along
with industry stakeholders in the food wholesale, retail and food service
industries to look at current issues and identify opportunities.
Inland Fisheries Management
Premiers reviewed the negative implications of reduced federal funding for
inland fisheries management. These include increased poaching and the
decline of inland fish stocks.
They agreed that a part of the solution to the problem of inland fisheries
is increased federal funding of inland fisheries science, enforcement,
conservation, habitat protection and stocking enhancement.
Premiers emphasized that inland fisheries management is constitutionally a
federal responsibility. They committed to develop a common position and a
strategy to present to the federal government to seek increased support for
inland fisheries management.
Canada Social Transfer and Post-Secondary Education
Post-secondary education (PSE) in Atlantic Canada serves as an important
catalyst in building a vibrant and competitive economic base.
In 1995-96, when federal support for health, post-secondary education and
social programs was merged, there was significant reduction in support for
these programs. Atlantic premiers strongly believe that base funding for the
Canada Social Transfer (CST) must be substantially increased and that
funding must be predictable, stable and adequate to ensure affordable
high-quality education and social services.
Premiers agreed to take a common position to the August meeting of the
Council of the Federation with a focus on increased funding for PSE through
increased base funding in CST with an adequate growth escalator.
Regionally, premiers will continue to engage the federal government on
funding arrangements for the renewal of post-secondary education
Premiers noted that various panels have been struck to examine the vertical
and horizontal fiscal imbalance in Canada. These include the House of
Commons Finance Sub-committee on Fiscal Imbalance, the Federal Expert Panel
on Equalization, and the Council of the Federation Advisory Panel on Fiscal
Atlantic premiers continue to be concerned that the federal government will
abandon the principle of equalizing fiscal capacities across provinces and
that the principle of equalizing fiscal capacity is being eroded. They
remain convinced that a ten-province standard and comprehensive revenue
coverage would be significant improvements to the existing Equalization
formula. The premiers agreed to continue advocating this position to the
The Atlantic premiers feel strongly that it is important that due
consideration be given to finding long-term durable solutions that work for
the provinces in this region.
Premiers discussed the upcoming First Ministers� Meeting on Aboriginal
Issues and agreed that important issues involving aboriginal people in our
jurisdictions include the necessity to improve service delivery in areas
such as housing, health, and education and noted the ongoing discussions on
these topics between the federal, provincial and territorial governments and
the national aboriginal organizations.
Premiers agreed that any partnership between both orders of government and
the aboriginal people must respect the constitutional and fiduciary
obligation of Canada to aboriginal people and should be based on adequate
and sustainable funding.
The Canada-US trade relationship is critically important for Atlantic
Canada. Exports from the four Atlantic provinces to the United States
totaled $20.5 billion in 2004. The region wants a border that is open to the
free flow of people, goods and services and closed to terrorists.
On April 5, 2005 the United States federal government announced its
intention to publish an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding the
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative. This will require all travelers
entering and leaving the United States to have a valid passport by December
Premiers appreciate that American officials are seeking to strengthen border
security while at the same time continuing to expedite entry into the United
States. Premiers, however, would prefer to see any measures adopted
implemented in a way that strengthens security without drastically
complicating the daily lives of those individuals who live in border
communities and other legitimate frequent travelers.
The proposed requirement for provision of passenger manifests for Canadian
aircraft flying in US airspace to points in Canada or elsewhere is a matter
of particular concern. Premiers agreed to raise this issue with the federal
government and work with them toward a satisfactory resolution.
Atlantic Canada must work with our New England neighbours to find
alternative solutions to the proposed passport and passenger manifest
measures. The strong working relationship with our New England counterparts
is of key importance when attempting to influence the American Congress or
Premiers will work together to develop a regional response, and will raise
the issue with their New England colleagues at the next meeting of the New
England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers.
Atlantic Prosperity Partnership Framework - (APPF)
At their last meeting, premiers agreed to join forces and develop a regional
economic development strategy for the Atlantic region. This strategy, when
completed, will assist and guide them in their approach with the federal
Federal and provincial officials have been meeting to discuss an Atlantic
Prosperity Partnership Framework which will provide strength and
diversification of Atlantic Canada�s regional economy by focusing on
policies and programs in the priority areas of human capital development,
innovation and productivity, tourism promotion, and stronger infrastructure
for economic growth.
The framework calls for bilateral contribution agreements to be negotiated
by each province with the federal government. These bilateral contributions
will be used to invest in priority initiatives that respond to provincial
needs and opportunities within the broader context of the framework.
The Atlantic premiers agreed to communicate to the federal government that
Atlantic Canada is seeking a true partnership, and that any and all federal
investments must be consistent with provincial plans and objectives. To this
end, the Atlantic premiers are inviting the Prime Minister to meet with them
early this fall to pursue implementation of the Atlantic Prosperity
Partnership Framework and include in the discussions the Atlantic Canada
Tourism Partnership, Atlantic Trade Missions, and the relationship of ACOA
with Atlantic governments.
Marine Atlantic Inc.
Premiers discussed the report of the Advisory Committee on Marine Atlantic
Inc. (MAI) which was publicly released by federal Transport Minister
Lapierre on May 6, 2005. Premiers agreed that MAI provides an essential
transportation link, vital to the regional economy. They noted that, under
the Terms of Union between Canada and Newfoundland and Labrador, the federal
government has a constitutional obligation to provide a continuous ferry
service in accordance with traffic offering, and agreed that this must be a
high-quality service offered at a reasonable cost. Premiers agreed with
Newfoundland and Labrador�s position that the federal government must commit
to this standard.
For further information, please contact:
- Chisholm Pothier, New Brunswick (506)
- Elizabeth Matthews, Newfoundland & Labrador
- Peter Spurway, Nova Scotia (902) 424-6600
- Peter MacQuaid, Prince Edward Island (902)
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