First-ever joint meeting of Ontario and Québec Cabinets
Ontario and Quebec held the first-ever joint meeting of their Cabinets on Monday, June 2, 2008 in Quebec City at the Chateau Frontenac. The meeting was co-chaired by Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Quebec Premier Jean Charest. Eighteen Quebec Ministers and 14 Ontario Ministers attended.
The meeting focused on Ontario-Quebec shared priorities such as the economy, climate change, energy and transportation.
- Premiers McGuinty and Charest released a framework for negotiating a comprehensive agreement on trade and economic cooperation between the two provinces.
- Premiers signed a memorandum of understanding on a climate change cap-and-trade initiative that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Ontario and Quebec signed a memorandum of understanding in which their provinces agree to work together on clean energy and on increasing energy efficiency and conservation.
- In addition, Ontario and Quebec signed cooperation protocols on social services and youth.
Ontario and Quebec are committed to working together to create a prosperous regional partnership in central Canada that will encompass economic and trade activity, environmental protection, energy supply and transportation links. The Premiers also intend to hold another meeting of their Cabinets in Toronto in spring 2009.
Ontario and Quebec - from the days of Upper Canada and Lower Canada to the present - have always had close ties and enjoyed a strong relationship. The two provinces are home to Canada's two largest economies and nearly 20 million Canadians or two-thirds of the country's population. Together, both provinces are responsible for approximately 58 per cent of Canada's total GDP and more than 55 per cent of inter-provincial exports.
The first-ever joint meeting of the Ontario and Quebec Cabinets builds on several recent initiatives between the two provinces.
- In April 2004 Premiers McGuinty and Charest met in Toronto to discuss opportunities for collaboration on shared priorities. They agreed to work together and directed their Ministers to negotiate and prepare agreements for key sectors.
- In June 2006 Premiers McGuinty and Charest met in Ottawa to sign a protocol for cooperation between their two provinces. At the same event, Ontario and Quebec ministers signed nine different agreements affecting specific sectors.
- In November 2007 Premiers McGuinty and Charest met in Toronto to announce they would cooperate to eliminate trade barriers and improve labour mobility between their two provinces. They signed a joint declaration to begin negotiating a comprehensive agreement to strengthen the economies of Ontario and Quebec.
- In January 2008, while meeting in Ottawa and in Vancouver, Premiers McGuinty and Charest together called on the federal government to work with them as a true partner and take immediate action to provide help to their provinces' manufacturing and forestry sectors.
Agreements and Discussions at the Joint Cabinet Meeting
Ontario-Quebec Economic Partnership Agreement
Premiers released the framework for negotiating the Ontario-Quebec Agreement on Trade Enhancement and Economic Cooperation. The framework will guide discussions as Ontario and Quebec negotiate an agreement to help create a common economic space in Central Canada and allow companies in Quebec and Ontario to compete and prosper in the global economy. The wide-ranging framework covers several sectors including: labour mobility, energy, transportation, public procurement, agriculture and food products, regulatory cooperation and economic cooperation. The Agreement will enhance provincial policies on labour, environmental and consumer protection standards, health, education, culture and regional economic development.
The two provinces are focusing on enhanced labour mobility and will take steps to allow accredited trades and professions to work in either Ontario or Quebec. To put this into effect, for example, Ontario and Quebec are going to build on existing effective mutual recognition agreements and go even further by pursuing automatic recognition for professionals between the two provinces.
Ontario and Quebec will take steps to make it easier for goods to move seamlessly and safely between the provinces. Specifically, both economic and environmental benefits will be achieved by moving ahead together on a harmonized approach for implementing speed limiters for trucks, subject to passage of legislation. In addition, Ontario will pursue regulations to permit single wide tires on trucks to improve fuel efficiency, and will develop a program to permit long combination vehicles under carefully controlled requirements to ensure our roads and highways remain among the safest in North America.
Ontario-Quebec Climate Change Cap-and-Trade Initiative
Ontario and Quebec signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on a climate change cap-and-trade initiative that will help to the reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, fight climate change, and be compatible with trading systems elsewhere in the world.
The MOU builds on both provinces' participation in North American sub-national cap-and-trade systems such as the Western Climate Initiative (WCI).
Key elements of the MOU include:
- facilitating links with North American or international trading systems;
- recognizing credible early action by industry to reduce GHG emissions; and,
- harmonizing reporting requirements with other jurisdictions and trading systems to ensure that regulated sectors do not face duplicative reporting requirements.
Ontario-Quebec Memorandum of Understanding on Energy
Ontario and Quebec signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on Energy in which the two provinces agree to work together to improve knowledge sharing on energy efficiency, conservation and demand management. The MOU sets out the priority areas for further work. For example, the provinces will identify and act on opportunities for harmonization of related standards, codes and programs, as well as undertake planning coordination on the two provinces' electricity systems.
Transportation: Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor and High-Speed Rail
Ontario and Quebec discussed ways to improve the flow of goods and people within the Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor - Canada's busiest economic region - stretching between Quebec City and Windsor.
The gateway links Canada's economic heartland with the United States and provides valuable connections to growing markets in Europe and Asia. The region is vitally important in maintaining Canada's position as the dominant trading partner of the United States.
The provinces also continued discussions on how a high-speed train could strengthen the economy and improve the environment. In January 2008, Ontario and Quebec announced they would carry out a feasibility study to examine the costs and benefits of a high-speed rail link between their two provinces. In the coming weeks, consultants will be selected to conduct the study and prepare a report.
Cooperation Agreement between Ontario and Quebec on Social Services
The two provinces signed the Ontario-Quebec Cooperation Agreement on Social Services. The agreement outlines ways that the two provinces can share information and research in four key areas:
- improving how social assistance is delivered;
- finding ways to help people to become more financially independent;
- working with people with disabilities to help them find and keep a job; and,
- improving access to services for people with disabilities.
Cooperation Agreement between Ontario and Quebec on Youth
The two provinces signed the Cooperation Agreement between Ontario and Quebec on Youth. The agreement focuses on sharing best practices about initiatives that support youth, particularly those from high-needs neighbourhoods. The initiatives include:
- summer jobs programs for youth;
- encouraging youth to consider careers in policing (based on an Ontario'sYouth in Policing initiative);
- helping young people access services and encourage them to get involved in positive community projects;
- helping 16 and 17-year-olds by providing them with skills to reach their social, professional and personal goals (based on Quebec's Ideo 16/17 program); and
- encouraging youth to get involved in local and regional organizations.
Ontario and Quebec will also explore the possibilities of youth exchanges between the two provinces.