News release

14th Meeting Focuses on Strengthening Regional Co-operation

Strengthening regional co-operation and recognizing the economic and social benefits associated with a competitive business environment were the focus of the 14th meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers held today, Dec. 12, in Halifax.

Premier Rodney MacDonald chaired the meeting, held at the World Trade and Convention Centre, that was attended by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz and Newfoundland and Labrador deputy premier Tom Rideout.

Atlantic Gateway The premiers agreed on the need for early marketing and investment in the Atlantic Gateway to raise awareness of its competitive advantage and to strengthen the efficiency of the multimodal transportation system linking the gateway to key markets.

The premiers urge quickly implementing a shared memorandum of understanding with the federal government to identify key infrastructure, policy and regulatory enhancements in support of the development of the Atlantic Gateway.

The premiers noted that timely access to federal funding will be critical to ensure the region is internationally competitive, and called upon the prime minister and the federal government to expedite the process of funding the Atlantic Gateway initiative.

Atlantic Canada is a natural gateway for the flow of goods, people and services to and from traditional and emerging markets such as India and China. The premiers recognized the strategic opportunity in leveraging the region's advantages in geography, transportation, and commerce that can enable Canada to attract a larger share of global trade to the benefit of each of the Atlantic provinces and Canada as a whole.

Atlantic Canada Transportation Strategy The premiers recognized that a safe, efficient and sustainable transportation system remains a key element of Atlantic Canada's prosperity and therefore directed their ministers responsible for transportation to present a transportation strategy with a vision for a state-of-the-art transportation system in Atlantic Canada that supports economic and social development in the region.

Atlantic Energy Framework The Atlantic premiers recognized the significant impact that energy has on the economy and the everyday lives of Atlantic Canadians, and expressed their commitment to position the region as a leader in energy conservation and generation.

The premiers were pleased to note that significant progress has been made developing an Atlantic energy framework, which will provide the basis for increased co-operation among the provinces and allow Atlantic Canadians to enjoy the environmental, social and economic benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy development.

The premiers directed Atlantic ministers of energy to complete a framework agreement focusing on collaborative initiatives in energy efficiency, biofuels and renewable energy development.

Promoting Atlantic Canada With the success of the last January's mission to Edmonton and Fort McMurray, the premiers agreed to continue to promote the region's economic capacity, explore trade and investment opportunities and build new partnerships which contribute to Atlantic Canada's prosperity.

Atlantic Wellness The premiers recognized the serious and growing impact of chronic disease on citizens and on the health care system. The premiers are committed to collaboratively promote wellness and healthy living in the region and directed Atlantic ministers responsible for health promotion and wellness to discuss a framework for collaborative action on such things as healthy food choices, physical activity and a reduction in smoking.

2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games The 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games offer an excellent opportunity for the Atlantic provinces to work together to showcase and build world awareness of this part of the country. The premiers agreed to explore collaboration on an Atlantic pavilion and other opportunities.

Improving Rules and Regulations for Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises The Atlantic premiers acknowledged the consultation by ministers with stakeholders to promote awareness of Atlantic agreements, and to target key areas and opportunities for additional harmonization or streamlining of regulations.

Impact of Changes to Criminal Legislation The premiers expressed concern about the cumulative cost impacts of the criminal law amendments that have been introduced, and in some cases passed, by the federal government. While the premiers recognize amending the Criminal Code and other federal criminal legislation is the jurisdiction of the federal government, the provinces are responsible for administering the legislation.

The premiers directed ministers responsible for justice to prepare a joint report to the federal government on the cost impacts for the Atlantic provinces, requesting federal cost-sharing to assist with the proposed legislation. The report should place particular emphasis on the impacts related to capital and operational costs of the justice system.

Impact of a Strong Canadian Dollar The premiers recognized the impact of the strong Canadian dollar on Atlantic Canada, in particular on manufacturing and traditional industries such as agriculture, forestry and the fishery.

The premiers agreed they would welcome proposals from the federal government to improve the competitiveness of manufacturing and traditional industries, as committed to in the October federal Speech from the Throne.

The premiers recommended that the federal government adopt measures to improve innovation and productivity, consider transitional programs for affected sectors and aggressively market Canadian products to international markets.

FOR BROADCAST USE:

Strengthening regional co-operation and recognizing the economic and social benefits associated with a competitive business environment were the focus of the 14th meeting of the Council of Atlantic Premiers held today (December 12th) in Halifax.

Premier Rodney MacDonald chaired the meeting that was attended by New Brunswick Premier Shawn Graham, P.E.I. Premier Robert Ghiz and Newfoundland and Labrador deputy premier Tom Rideout.

Key areas discussed were: the Atlantic Gateway; a regional transportation strategy; an energy framework; continuing to collaborate to promote Atlantic Canada; an team approach to promote wellness and healthy living; promotional opportunities provided by the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games; improving rules and regulations for small and medium-sized businesses; the impact of changes to federal criminal legislation; and the impact of a strong Canadian dollar.

-30-

Media Contact:

Joe Gillis
Premier's Office 902-497-7263 E-mail: