Articles Edmonton Sun Freelance

News: Provincial pact makes for “economic powerhouse”

Published in the May 1st issue of The Edmonton Sun. News


Provincial pact makes for “economic powerhouse”.

LINDA HOANG
Edmonton Sun

Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan have come together to form an alliance they say will make Western Canada an “economic powerhouse.”

The three provinces signed the New West Partnership in Regina on Friday, a partnership that would put the trio’s combined market value at $555 billion.

“We signed an agreement today that creates an amazing economic force,” said Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

The partnership aims to look at ways to attract more investors and deal internationally, specifically in Asia.

“(Western Canada) is an economic region that is home to a number of industries that the world is very interested in right now. It is home to not only the resources that people want, but the innovations and the science that the world is interested in,” Wall said.

“When you can say to international investors there’s a nine million-person market that’s available, when you can say that to our own businesses, it is a very positive economic launching pad,” said B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell.

But Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour doesn’t agree.

“The vast majority of companies that decide to invest in Alberta make those decisions based on our resources, rather than our rules and regulations,” McGowan said.

Under the agreement, there are also plans to remove trade, investment, and labour mobility barriers between the three provinces, similar to concepts of TILMA, the trade, investment and labour mobility agreement signed between Alberta and B.C. in 2007, which had been openly protested by the Council of Canadians and the Alberta Federation of Labour. But the premiers have stressed that New West is not the same as TILMA.

McGowan says the labour and trade component of the New West agreement is trying to “fix a problem that doesn’t exist.”

“The reality is there isn’t a problem of labour mobility in this country and there hasn’t been for years.”

But a spokesman for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation says any initiative that lessens or removes trade and investment barriers is positive for the economy.

New West will also look at joint procurement, whether items like medical equipment, textbooks for schools and pharmaceutical products can be bulk purchased as a way to save on provincial spending.

“All three provinces are going to be able to reduce some of their public expenditures and when we do that we can then keep our taxes low,” Premier Ed Stelmach said.

“When we move to a common procurement strategy, we will save millions of dollars for our taxpayers,” Campbell said.

“Our taxpayers will get much better value for every dollar that we take out of their pockets.”

The three premiers head to Asia on May 14 to make their first appearance as part of the New West to Asian investors.

The New West Partnership trade agreement will officially come into effect July 1.

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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