Executive Council
July 18, 2008

Premier Williams Raises Issues of Concern for
Newfoundland and Labrador at Annual Council of the Federation Meeting

Issues of concern to the people and economy of Newfoundland and Labrador were raised at the annual Council of the Federation (COF) meeting in Quebec City. The Honourable Danny Williams, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, attended the meeting with his provincial and territorial colleagues.

"We had productive and worthwhile discussions on many issues that impact our province and the country as a whole in Quebec City this week," said Premier Williams. "Progress was achieved on key issues such as labour mobility which will ensure that citizens can move more freely throughout the country, which is particularly important in a time when Newfoundland and Labrador has several potential large projects coming on stream. Improving labour mobility is a positive step that will enhance our economy and our competitiveness as a province."

The province will be hosting a symposium on Labour Force participation. This will be an opportunity to profile the province�s approach to poverty reduction and share best practices.

Premiers also discussed climate change and the actions being taken by individual provinces and territories to address climate in their respective jurisdictions.

"Newfoundland and Labrador takes the issue of climate change seriously, as evidenced by our commitment to address the issue through our Energy Plan," said Premier Williams. "Right now we have the second lowest emissions among provinces in the country and we are undertaking other green initiatives to ensure we tackle this global issue. Of course, from our perspective the most important step we can take to progress an agenda of clean energy is to proceed with the Lower Churchill development."

As a part of the COF climate change discussions, Premier Williams committed to hosting a COF forum on Large Scale Hydro, to discuss how such developments can assist meeting climate change goals in the country.

Other issues that were discussed included enhancing the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT), an agreement among provinces, territories and the Federal Government. In the context of the Transportation Chapter of the AIT, the Premier also raised the issue of the prohibitive costs of Marine Atlantic fares.

"This constitutionally guaranteed transportation link is critical to the success of our economy and it is time for the Federal Government to recognize this and to immediately reduce associated costs," said Premier Williams. "The costs of using Marine Atlantic are clearly prohibitive and damaging to our competitiveness as a province and we continue to call upon the Federal Government and our Conservative Members of Parliament to start lowering fares which in our opinion would be in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Transportation Chapter of the AIT."

In discussions regarding trade with the European Union (EU), Premier Williams took the opportunity to express serious concerns as there are outstanding issues for Newfoundland and Labrador.

"In particular, I expressed my concerns about the potential ban on the importation of seal products into the EU," said Premier Williams. "It is useful to discuss and pursue freer trade with jurisdictions; however, our province has very serious issues with the EU including the potential seal product ban, and also on prohibitive tariffs that the EU places on certain seafood products. In light of historic EU member countries over fishing in waters off our shores, I asked for premiers� support in acknowledging these issues in future government-to-government discussions."

Premier Williams also led a discussion of standards in pathology laboratories. Premier Williams took the opportunity to share with his colleagues initiatives being undertaken in Newfoundland and Labrador to improve standards in laboratories such as funding for the following: the establishment of an accreditation system for all medical laboratories; training, education and quality assurance relating to hormone receptor testing to allow pathologists and technologists to participate in relevant training and best practices; Eastern Health to consolidate clinical information systems; to conduct Management Capacity Assessment; and new data management personnel.

"Our government takes seriously the issues surrounding laboratory standards and we have demonstrated our commitment to ensuring that patients can rely upon our health care system and we are investing to ensure this objective is achieved which is why our government initiated province-wide accreditation for all laboratories and diagnostic imaging," said Premier Williams. "We will continue to work with partners in the health care system to deal with identified problems in a timely and appropriate manner."


Media contacts:

Elizabeth Matthews
Director of Communications
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960, 693-7291
Roger Scaplen
Press Secretary
Office of the Premier
709-729-4304, 727-0991

2008 07 18                                                        3:00 p.m.

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