Home Government Council of the Federation Western premiers united around economics, security & trade

Western premiers united around economics, security & trade

Shared concern about Arctic sovereignty, labour shortages, critical mineral opportunities

david eby, western premiers, june 2023, whistler
Western Premiers meeting in Whistler, BC June 26 & 27, 2023. [BC Government]

Tuesday June 27, 2023 | WHISTLER, BC

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends

Today seven premiers of Canada’s western provinces and northern territories told Canadians — through the work of professional media — about the range and depth of their discussions on matters of shared interest.

premier david eby, western premiers, june 2023
Premier David Eby chaired the Western Premiers conference in Whistler, BC on June 27, 2023. [Livestream]

As chair of the group that met in Whistler yesterday and today, BC Premier David Eby reported out today that the group had “collective discussions on shared priorities”.

Looking to the federal government for cooperation and funding is part of the Western premiers meeting objective.

Premier Eby was joined by Alberta Premier Danielle Smith, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson (Chair of the Council of the Federation), Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai, Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane, and Nunavut Premier PJ Akeeagok.

Key partners with shared concerns:

“The provinces and territories are key partners,” said Eby. They are concerned about labour shortages across the country as well as the ways that are needed to support newcomers. He said that immigration needs more provincial input so that tailored solutions can be evolved for each region.

danielle smith, alberta, premier
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith at the western premiers conference in Whistler, BC on June 27, 2023. [Livestream]

Eby itemized big challenges as including forest fires, filling jobs, economic issues including the cost of living and affordability, energy issues, northern sovereignty, critical minerals and energy security, infrastructure and trade corridors (for getting goods to market), climate crises and adaptability.

Alberta not cutting back on oil & gas production:

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith specifically said that Alberta is not cutting back on oil and gas production but does want to see reduced emissions.

The North’s triple threat:

Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai was articulate about the needs for support “from across Western Canada” as to making an investment in the North’s “triple threat”:

ranj pillai, yukon, premier
Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai at the Western Premiers meeting June 27, 2023. [livestream]
  • sovereignty;
  • economic opportunity (critical minerals), telecommunications, electrical grid, roadways, and ports;
  • Arctic security.

Filling jobs:

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson spoke about health human resources, including recruitment and training, as part of resolving the health-care challenges faced across the country.

Eby articulated that ‘filling jobs’ is a widespread problem for the economy

council of the federation, western premiers
Western Premiers met June 27, 2023 in Whistler, BC.

Get to know the North:

Northwest Territories Premier Caroline Cochrane emphatically outlined how the federal government needs to take more direction from leadership in the territory regarding on-the-ground conditions (e.g. cold temperatures, icy road conditions, and not getting lost) when it comes to the federal government realizing their stated goals.

Population growth response should involve provinces:

Eby mentioned the challenges of population growth as impacting many of the concerns for Western Premiers including housing and other supports. He said that the provinces need to be more involved in the federal government’s approach to immigration.

premiers, western, north, june 2023
Western Premiers meeting in Whistler, BC on June 27, 2023. [livestream]

The population of BC increased by 250,000 in 2021 and 2022. Another significant population increase is expected this year.

Food security ties in:

Food security was not mentioned specifically but is obviously entwined with the challenges of a growing population as well as trade routes and labour supply.

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