Cooperation Between Ontario And Québec Is Yielding Tangible Results
Premiers Charest and McGuinty today held the third joint meeting of the Ontario and Québec cabinets in Quebec City.
Quebec City - Ontario and Québec held the third joint meeting of their cabinets, chaired by Québec Premier Jean Charest and Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Nine Québec Ministers and nine Ontario Ministers attended. The meeting focused on key issues, including protecting the environment, strengthening the economy and building stronger partnerships.
"We are building on the foundations we've established to build a stronger Québec, a stronger Ontario and, ultimately, a stronger Canada," said Premier Charest.
"We are here to continue our work to help our families, workers and businesses today and to build a solid foundation for our future," said Premier McGuinty.
Protecting the environment, which is a priority for both cabinets, was a major point of discussion. Ontario and Québec remain committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed to develop regulations required to implement a cap and trade system and to work with key Canadian and U.S. partners on a coordinated approach to the infrastructure and administrative support which may include establishing a Regional Administrative Organization. The cabinets also agreed to concentrate on one of the world's greatest resources -- water. Respecting and maintaining the quality and the conservation of invaluable water resources is a priority for both governments.
About $200-billion worth of Canada-U.S. trade passed through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Region in 2009. The provinces agreed to take greater advantage of the region, in collaboration with Great Lakes states.
The cabinets also expressed their desire to develop and broaden their relations by calling for an annual Ontario-Québec forum dealing with an identified theme in order to advise the governments on new cooperation opportunities. The premiers then announced they will work towards a first forum on the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River that will take place in the spring 2011. This forum, which will be divided in two parts, will focus on questions related to their economic importance and on water quality and protection.
The Continental Gateway and Ontario-Québec Trade Corridor Strategy, jointly developed with federal officials and already approved by both provinces, would strengthen the Ontario-Québec trade corridor. This would optimize the region's economic potential and the premiers urged the federal government to endorse the Strategy so the actions of the three governments are most effective in increasing trade, investment and economic growth.
The development of a high-speed train in the Windsor-Québec City corridor was also the subject of discussions. A report from Écotrain consultants is expected in the fall. Considering the importance of this initiative, both at the economic and environmental levels, the two governments have agreed to proceed, following the report, to the next step, namely, environmental assessments, choice of technology and alignment. Given the impact of this corridor for the Canadian economy as a whole, the premiers invited the Government of Canada to continue its full participation as a project partner.
The two cabinets received an update on current negotiations by their lead negotiators on the Canada-European Union trade talks and on opportunities for future cooperation. The premiers highlighted their leadership role in these ongoing trade talks, and efforts to advance the interests of Ontario and Quebec firms in diversifying our markets.
The two cabinets also discussed health care at length and will bring it forward as a major focus at the next Council of the Federation this upcoming August. The focus will be to share information on best practices between jurisdictions in providing quality health care while ensuring its sustainability and finding solutions on containing the ever rising costs.
Like the first two joint meetings, this one reaffirmed the importance and the added value for the two economies of this new era of cooperation begun in 2006. "Canada as a whole benefits from our efforts to strengthen Ontario and Québec," concluded Premier Charest, host of this third joint meeting, the next of which will be held in Toronto in the spring of 2011.