Québec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met today and announced their commitment to reinvigorate and strengthen the relationship between the two provinces in order to reinforce regional partnership in central Canada.
"Ontario and Québec share a long-lasting history of collaboration, which has led to great achievements in the past. Both provinces are committed to work more closely together and to revitalize the strategic relationship we have had for many years, since we share many common interests and priorities," said Québec Premier, Philippe Couillard.
The two provinces form the largest economic region of Canada, with 20 million Canadians. Together, Québec and Ontario are responsible for approximately 56 per cent of Canada's total GDP and 53 per cent of inter-provincial exports.
"By strengthening our partnership, Ontario and Québec will be better positioned to face the challenges of the new economy. By working more closely together, we will help to grow the economy, attract businesses and investments, and create jobs. I believe our collaboration will benefit not only this region, but Canada as a whole," said Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne.
The meeting focused on Ontario-Québec shared priorities, such as economic and trade activity issues, climate change, infrastructure and energy supply.
Joint Cabinet Meetings
Building on the foundations of the co-operation established in the past between the Ontario and Québec governments, the premiers have agreed to pursue joint meetings of their cabinets. They are pleased to announce the fourth joint meeting, which will be held before the end of the year. This meeting will have a substantive agenda, which will allow both governments to make progress on common priorities. This will also deepen the relationships that have been developed between their respective ministers in many areas.
Trade and Cooperation
Premiers Wynne and Couillard reiterated their commitment to enhancing internal trade between the two provinces. "We intend to reinvigorate the Ontario-Québec Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009. This agreement has already delivered concrete results, including making it easier for our workforce to move freely between our two provinces, creating a Life Sciences Innovation Corridor and supporting enhanced electricity trade," said Ontario's Premier Wynne.
"We have made progress, but want to go further and increase trade between Québec and Ontario. Initially, we will expand access to our respective public procurement for our suppliers in a manner that is as ambitious as we have demonstrated during negotiations with the European Union," emphasized Québec's Premier Couillard.
Premiers Couillard and Wynne have also agreed to explore the viability of expanding electricity trade between Ontario and Québec. In addition, they indicated that they will both participate in the Council of the Federation's mission to China in October 2014 to advance their international trade and investment interests.
Premiers Couillard and Wynne also discussed climate change in light of extreme weather events, as well as the importance of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed it is more important than ever to address this common issue, which is a top priority for both of their governments. All discussions on energy should take an appropriately balanced approach by considering climate change and energy innovation opportunities. Québec and Ontario are Canada's leaders in combatting climate change and have made enormous progress to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Québec and California have officially linked their respective cap-and-trade systems on January 1, 2014, thereby making the Western Climate Initiative's (WCI) regional carbon market the largest of its kind in North America, and the first to have been designed and operated by subnational governments of two different countries. Québec and California will hold a first formal joint auction in November 2014.
"As stated by the UN, any successful strategy aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases should include determining a price for carbon. Québec strongly believes that a cap-and-trade system is an efficient and economically viable response to this global challenge. We are looking forward to recruiting new partners among our neighbours, thus joining forces in the necessary transition to a low carbon economy," said Premier Couillard.
Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to have completely eliminated coal as a source of electricity generation. The closure of Ontario's coal-burning power plants is equivalent to taking up to seven million cars off the road.
"Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental challenges of our time. Ontario will continue to be a leader in combatting climate change. We look forward to working with our partners to safeguard and build upon the progress we have made," said Premier Wynne.
As an initial step in bilateral co-operation, Premiers Couillard and Wynne agreed to create a group to support their ministers responsible for the environment and climate change. This group would be chaired by the appropriate deputy ministers and have a mandate to update and strengthen bilateral environmental co-operation agreements, with a priority on climate change issues.
The Premiers also acknowledged the importance of infrastructure and the economic benefits associated with infrastructure investments, notably regarding job creation and economic growth. Both provinces have significant infrastructure plans and recognize that the Building Canada Plan is an important element of the federal government's approach to funding infrastructure.
Ontario and Québec consider that federal infrastructure funding should be increased in order to respond to the slower rate of economic recovery and job creation in Eastern Canada.Ontario and Québec are looking for enhanced, stable and predictable funding through a transfer of federal funds that lets provinces determine their own infrastructure investment priorities instead of a project-by-project approach.