Premiers and Ministers reaffirm their commitment to collaborating on key action areas and supporting robust economic growth in the region
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) – July 25, 2022 – Governments of Canada and the Atlantic Provinces
Sustained economic growth in Atlantic Canada requires strong federal-provincial collaboration. Atlantic premiers and federal ministers are focused on addressing current and emerging issues to support the long-term economic growth in small and large communities across the region.
Premiers and ministers met to discuss ongoing and planned actions to grow the region’s economy and support its future prosperity. Co-chaired by the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor, Minister of Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, and the Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the meeting saw premiers and ministers recommit to pursuing key regional opportunities in energy, immigration, infrastructure, transit, innovation, tourism, and trade and investment.
ADVANCING ATLANTIC PROSPERITY AND REMOVING TRADE BARRIERS
Today, they engaged in a constructive and forward-looking discussion about top-of-mind issues such as labour shortages, affordability, housing availability and energy. Premiers and ministers discussed and acknowledged the need to tackle the effect inflation is having on the cost of living for Atlantic Canadians. They agreed on the importance of working together through the Atlantic Growth Strategy to help make life more affordable for Atlantic Canadians in communities large and small.
Premiers and ministers recognized that removing unnecessary barriers and making it easier for entrepreneurs to do business within the Atlantic region will help address the region’s economic challenges. They see an opportunity for federal and provincial governments to work aggressively to reduce internal trade barriers, in particular in the agri-food and energy sectors, as well as to align regulatory approaches and accelerate labour mobility, particularly in the health care sector. They committed to work collaboratively to remove these barriers within their jurisdictions.
ENSURING SECURE AND AFFORDABLE POWER FOR ATLANTIC CANADIANS
Premiers and ministers highlighted the necessity of bolstering Atlantic Canada’s clean energy supply and achieving national and local emissions reduction targets, all while addressing the region’s growing energy needs. They reviewed progress on several initiatives, including the Clean Power Road Map for Atlantic Canada and the Atlantic Loop.
Federal ministers and premiers agreed on the need to continue to advance the Atlantic Loop and validate the 2030 timeline and also continue to work on the broader regional plan to provide secure and affordable electricity to meet the region’s medium- and long-term needs. They reiterated the importance of advancing an agreement on the project’s path forward over the coming months, to strengthen regional trade in clean power, support electrification and generate new economic opportunities for the region.
ADDRESSING LABOUR NEEDS
Atlantic Canada has unique regional workforce challenges. Attracting and retaining newcomers is one way that Atlantic businesses can recruit the workers they need and grow the economy. Premiers and ministers discussed ongoing efforts in this area, and renewed their vision of positioning Atlantic Canada as a destination of choice for global talent. Building on the Atlantic Immigration Program launched earlier this year, they agreed on the need to increase immigration and retention through existing programs including the Provincial Nominee Program, the opportunities of skilled refugees through the Economic Mobility Pathways Program/Pilot, the Temporary Foreign Worker Program adjustments adopted as part of the Workforce Solutions Road Map, and the 2022–2024 Immigration Levels Plan.
Premiers and ministers also discussed other ways to address labour force gaps, such as enhancing foreign credential recognition, accelerating labour mobility, enhancing youth skills development, and leveraging labour market transfer agreements. Premiers and ministers discussed options to further enable international students to contribute to local economies over the short term. They agreed that innovative solutions are needed to address labour shortages, adapted to Atlantic Canadian businesses’ distinctive challenges. To that end, the new Express Entry System selection flexibilities set out in Budget 2022 will enable better future targeting for key economic sectors and regions.
Building on the positive outcomes of the 2017 Atlantic Trade and Investment Growth Agreement (ATIGA), premiers and ministers announced the agreement’s renewal until 2027. Through this agreement, the governments of Canada and the four Atlantic provinces will invest a total of $20 million over five years to help Atlantic firms pursue international business opportunities, enter new export markets or increase their current offerings abroad, and strengthen the region’s capacity to attract foreign investment.
Premiers and ministers noted that regional tourism numbers are already exceeding expectations this summer. As a major job creator, tourism is key to growing the region’s prosperity, particularly in rural communities. They confirmed their intent to pursue the renewal of the Atlantic Canada Tourism Agreement (ACAT), which is due to expire in 2023.
Accelerating the delivery of broadband services, including mobile broadband, helps ensure strong economic growth in the region and gives businesses the tools they need to compete globally. Recent regional initiatives and investments made under the Universal Broadband Fund are bridging broadband gaps, including in 350 rural and remote communitiesthat will be connected. These ongoing collaborative federal-provincial efforts will see residents in hundreds of communities gain access to this key enabling infrastructure.
Premiers and ministers agreed that world-class public infrastructure is critical in improving the quality of life for Atlantic Canadians, while supporting economic growth, creating livable communities and tackling climate change. Premiers and ministers committed to working together to inform the design of future programming to ensure that it reflects Atlantic Canada’s priorities while also advancing national goals.
DELIVERING FOR ATLANTIC CANADIANS
Premiers and ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work together and build on the initiatives that are benefitting Atlantic Canadians through the Strategy. The federal and provincial governments will continue their coordinated and focused actions to support long-term economic prosperity in Atlantic Canada, and tasked officials to explore additional joint initiatives and redefine objectives over the coming months.