2008 B.C.-Alberta Joint Cabinet Meeting
SAFE, SECURE COMMUNITIES FOCUS OF B.C.-ALBERTA MEETING
PRINCE GEORGE – An agreement that will see B.C. and Alberta co-operate to enhance community safety and team up to tackle gang crime and repeat offenders was one of the highlights of the sixth British Columbia-Alberta joint cabinet meeting, held today in Prince George.
The agreement also includes developing a joint missing persons’ database and sharing best practices to aid victims of crime. B.C. and Albertawill also develop a pilot project to act on warrants of serious offenders who are returned to the issuing jurisdiction. The provinces have agreed to step up measures to ensure parents fulfil their maintenance responsibilities to their children following separation or divorce.
“Our two provinces are partnering to crack down on crime and focus on making communities in B.C. and Alberta safe. By working in co-operation, we can be more effective at tracking offenders and supporting victims of crime,” said British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell.
Premier Campbell and Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach expressed concern over the effectiveness of the operation of the criminal justice system. The premiers want to work with the federal government and other provinces to achieve positive changes in five areas: the range of sentencing for all criminal offences including youth sentencing; the principles of sentencing; review of bail provisions; review of procedures for preliminary hearings; and quick action to fill legislative gaps created by the courts that hinder police investigations and prosecutions.
Premier Stelmach said it is crucial that Alberta and B.C. join forces to ensure the justice system allows citizens in both provinces to feel safe in their homes and communities.
“Crime knows no borders. Our joint efforts today will focus on making it as difficult and uncomfortable as possible for criminals to operate in our provinces while at the same time boosting our efforts to aid victims of crime,” said Premier Stelmach.
Open skies and international labour mobility
British Columbia and Alberta also agreed to pursue new joint measures to advance direct and competitive air access to international markets and raise the region’s profile as a destination for skilled foreign workers.
The provinces will call on the federal government to allow international air carriers to serve B.C. and Alberta airports without market restrictions. The provinces are proposing that B.C. and Alberta be designated an Open Skies region for all existing air service agreements that currently only allow limited landing rights elsewhere within Canada.
B.C. and Alberta will also call for the aggressive pursuit of Open Skies agreements with countries that do not currently have air service agreements with Canada and, at the very least, designate British Columbia and Alberta as an Open Skies region within all new agreements. This approach would allow Canada to increase the number and quality of air service agreements and accommodate the interests of regions that strongly support Open Skies.
“Expanding direct international links to airports in western Canada helps ensure our economies are open to the world, bringing the benefits of new relationships, people and opportunities. Major trading partners like Europe and the Asia-Pacific should be at the top of our list for Open Skies agreements,” Premier Campbell said. “Alberta and British Columbia will collaborate to ensure our provinces can benefit from strong relations around the globe, and we will look at ways we can improve our ability to attract skilled workers and new business opportunities.”
Alberta and B.C. will look at ways to collaborate to address labour attraction and retention. This includes sharing information, best practices and working together on common initiatives to align foreign qualification recognition and help foreign trained workers put their skills to work.
An agreement on rural development was also signed that will see collaborative approaches taken to improve community-based programs and resources and enhance other rural development initiatives.
“Strong rural communities are the heart and soul of both provinces and are fundamental to the economic future of our provinces,” said Premier Stelmach. “From joint strategies to address the mountain pine beetle, to improving rural Internet access and engaging participation of First Nation and Métis peoples, this agreement is as diverse as our rural communities.”
Commitment to partnership
The provinces also renewed their five-year commitment to partnership and confirmed that the groundbreaking Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) is well on target for full implementation by April 1, 2009.
“Over the past five years, our high level of co-operation has helped build the strongest economic partnership in Canada. This has helped create a more competitive and prosperous region,” said Premier Campbell.
“Five years of joint cabinet meetings have led to groundbreaking agreements and helped set the standard for provincial co-operation across the country,” agreed Premier Stelmach.
Other highlights of the meeting include:
Co-operation on a proposal to see ongoing international use of Winter Olympic venues and facilities in Calgary, Vancouver, Whistler along with those in Lake Placid and Salt Lake City; and
The development of a B.C.-Alberta segment of the Trans-Canada Trail that will go through southeastern B.C.