CHARLOTTETOWN (GNB) - Economic growth and regulatory co-operation were the key discussion points at a meeting of the four Atlantic Canadian premiers today.
The 33rd meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers was hosted by Prince Edward Island Premier Wade MacLauchlan who welcomed Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil, New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs, and Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball.
“Today’s meeting helped each of us in our collective efforts to build a more prosperous Atlantic Canada and focused on key areas including collaborative efforts to establish a regional energy/utility corridor, enhanced regulatory alignment, health and trade,” said MacLauchlan.
The premiers said they recognize there are significant economic development and greenhouse-gas (GHG) reduction opportunities provided by the Atlantic region’s clean energy assets and resources. They agreed it is essential to maximize clean energy resources through reliable, efficient and co-ordinated transmission and agreed to work together toward expanding electrification and developing more sustainable and affordable electricity in the region.
The premiers also agreed to engage with the federal government to seek partnership in a regional transmission system, clean energy infrastructure, smart systems and electrification.
They also discussed energy/utility corridors and the important role they may play in ensuring Canadians receive the full value of their natural resources. The premiers said they recognize there are stranded energy resources in western and eastern Canada and said it is essential to move them to national and international markets in the most efficient and environmentally-friendly manner.
The premiers discussed the benefits of regional collaboration in advancing regulatory efficiency. They said they remain committed to strengthening the economy of the region by continuing this work through the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness. They also agreed to focus on strengthening Workers Compensation Board processes, enhanced transportation efficiency and improvement to the mobility of health-care workers, beginning with regional certifications.
They discussed the example of the regional work towards regulatory and policy alignment of the technical safety trades. This work is expected to yield benefits such as freer movement of highly skilled employees, which is expected to streamline interprovincial trade and strengthen the regional economy.
Atlantic Canada faces unique challenges in health care delivery, including an aging population and higher-than-average incidences of chronic diseases. The premiers said they recognize the important role that timely and appropriate access to prescription drugs has in treating disease and improving health. Over the past decade, the Atlantic provinces have worked to align formularies and improve access to prescription drug coverage for their residents.
The federal government is currently studying opportunities to create a National Pharmacare Program. The premiers stressed the importance of recognizing the unique needs of Atlantic Canadians, and called on the prime minister and other federal leaders to make clear their commitment that any initiative includes a defined funding role for the federal government and does not impose new or disproportionate burdens on Atlantic Canadians.
The premiers discussed the challenges and opportunities for the regional economy related to recent trade developments. They discussed opportunities to further diversify exports, including through the opportunities presented by the Comprehensive Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement.
They said their provinces will collaborate in areas of common interests to further support business growth and job creation by leveraging opportunities in the global marketplace.