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Notes for an address by
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
President of the Queen's Privy Council for Canada,
Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of Western Economic Diversification
Western Economic Partnership Agreements
Corresponding Document: News release (2008-04-25)
Check Against Delivery
Good morning, everyone … thank you for joining us today.
It isn’t often I get to wear two “hats” at the same time … but today’s announcement has links to both my ministerial roles.
I’m here officially as Minister of Western Economic Diversification (WD) to meet my provincial counterparts … which contributes to the Government of Canada’s goal of a more prosperous future for all Canadians.
But today’s announcement also has links to my role as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, which involves collaboration with provincial governments to support our Government’s goal of a stronger federation that responds to the needs of provinces and their citizens.
Those goals are shared by the western Provinces, and I’d like to welcome:
This is the perfect opportunity for my colleagues and I to announce that the Government of Canada and the four western provinces have agreed to negotiate a new series of Western Economic Partnership Agreements (WEPAs).
These flexible agreements are unique to Western Canada. They encourage joint planning and decision-making and focus the efforts of both federal and provincial governments on shared priorities. They are a clear demonstration of an effective federation working in the common interests of the Canadian public.
These agreements address regional challenges and opportunities by fostering entrepreneurship, building centres of scientific excellence and expanding traditional business sectors in new directions.
Furthermore they promote economic development, strengthen economic activity and improve the quality of life in communities across the West.
Under the new agreements, WD will allocate $25 million in funding for each of the western provinces … an amount that will be matched by the provincial governments, for a total investment of $200 million.
The previous WEPAs, which just expired on March 31, were a very successful means of achieving results in areas that matter to western Canadians.
Across the West, the agreements have strengthened value-added activities in traditional sectors; increased the commercialization of new technologies; trained skilled workers; and increased Aboriginal participation in the workforce.
And, they were an effective use of taxpayers’ dollars. Each dollar from the federal government, matched by the provincial government, attracted $0.65 from the private sector, universities and not-for-profits.
As well, the agreements were viewed positively for their ability to bring partners together to cost-share, to collaborate and to bring a strategic focus to common priorities.
Examples of key projects supported during the latest round of WEPAs include:
And, these are the results of only four projects across the West. One can only begin to imagine the effect of the agreements overall!
Needless to say, we are excited about the potential of these new multi-year agreements, and I look forward to finalizing the details with our provincial partners in the weeks ahead.
Building on the success of past WEPAs, the federal priorities under the renewed WEPA agreements will include:
These WEPAs will build upon our Government’s priority areas in both Advantage Canada and the Science and Technology Strategy.
Advantage Canada strives to ensure that Canada has modern infrastructure, an innovative and entrepreneurial business environment and a tax system that rewards hard work.
Our Government is supporting Canadian researchers and innovators in developing new ideas, and in bringing those ideas to the marketplace through our national Science and Technology Strategy.
Our S&T Strategy supports the creation and growth of knowledge-based research and development and business clusters, and the commercialization of new products, technologies and services.
The Strategy will also strengthen Canada’s ability to transform research into real economic benefits and foster three distinct Canadian S&T advantages:
These are focused investments that will deliver tangible results to Canadians. And the projects delivered through the WEPA will help us to further deliver on our S&T goals.
The renewal of these WEPA agreements also highlights our Government’s commitment to work in cooperation with Canada’s provincial governments.
Canadians expect their governments to work together to build a stronger economy.
This government is committed to working cooperatively with provinces and territories to build a stronger economic union, as we have demonstrated through our cooperation on initiatives such as infrastructure.
These initiatives – like the new Western Economic Partnership Agreements – demonstrate our Government’s commitment to working in cooperation with provinces and other stakeholders.
A strong and efficient economic union ensures that all Canadians get the most from their skills and knowledge, and that businesses and organizations in Canada can invest to obtain the greatest returns.
Through the renewed Western Economic Partnership Agreements, together, we are building a stronger West in a stronger Canada.