Immigration plays a critical role in helping to grow provincial and territorial economies. Premiers called on the federal government to scale up the caps on immigration levels within the Provincial and Territorial Nominee Programs. Premiers also discussed the need for timely and reliable access to Temporary Foreign Workers to fill labour and skills shortages. For example, as a result of the June 2013 flooding in Southern Alberta, it is anticipated that increased access to temporary foreign workers will be needed to assist in the flood recovery. Premiers also noted that Provincial and Territorial Nominee Programs, the Canadian Experience Class, and the Federal Skilled Worker Program can provide an effective path for these workers to become Canadian citizens. Premiers called on the federal government to expedite the processing of visas as these delays are impacting jobs and access for foreign students, Premiers also called on the federal government to reconsider the closing of visa offices. Provinces and territories are best positioned to manage immigrant settlement and language services.
Québec is already responsible for selecting immigrants and settlement services in Québec under the Canada- Québec Accord and will share information and best practices with interested governments.
Infrastructure, Jobs and Growth
All Premiers agreed on the importance of strategic investments in infrastructure to create jobs and generate economic growth in all regions of the country. Provinces and territories are in the strongest position to understand their infrastructure priorities and how their capital spending drives economic prosperity, improves the movement of goods and people and builds the foundations for connecting to the global economy.
Given the importance of jobs and the economy, Premiers committed to continuing their conversation on these critical issues at a COF meeting this Fall.
Premiers released a Progress Report from the Council of the Federation Working Group on the Canadian Energy Strategy.* The Progress Report identifies the Vision and Principles for the Canadian Energy Strategy, highlights important work done by provinces and territories since the 2007 Council of the Federation Strategy “A Shared Vision for Energy in Canada”, and identifies challenges as well as potential opportunities facing Canada’s energy sector.
As owners of natural resources, provinces and territories have an essential role to play in developing Canada as a global leader in energy development, knowledge and technology. This essential role includes ensuring that energy development takes place in an environmentally and socially sustainable manner that includes conservation and efficiency and supports the transition to a lower carbon economy. Premiers also agreed that the Canadian Energy Strategy should address ways to improve access to affordable, clean, renewable and reliable supplies of energy in Aboriginal and remote communities. The Working Group will continue its work across jurisdictions and with stakeholders and in the ten action areas identified in the progress report.
* In July 2012, British Columbia indicated that it will not participate in the process at this time. In April 2013, Quebec indicated that it was open to work with jurisdictions in specific initiatives but did not intend to participate in the development of the Canadian Energy Strategy.
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