Premiers focus on affordability, housing, strategic infrastructure, and health

Premiers focus on affordability, housing, strategic infrastructure, and health

HALIFAX, November 6, 2023 – Canada’s Premiers are united in their commitment to take action on the affordability challenges facing Canadians, along with the need to improve health services, tackle housing issues, and strengthen strategic infrastructure.

Premiers1 gathered in Halifax to discuss how provinces and territories are working to address these challenges, noting that improving the lives of Canadians requires all governments to work together in a spirit of genuine collaboration.

Climate change is a key concern for Canadians. Provinces and territories are taking action to address climate change and have made significant investments over time to meet the needs of their jurisdictions. Premiers expressed concern that federal actions around the federal carbon tax have treated Canadians differently and expect the federal government to support all Canadians fairly. Premiers are unanimous in calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that federal policies and programs are delivered in a fair and equitable way to all Canadians, particularly in light of the affordability challenges being faced across the country.

The Prime Minister has not convened a full in-person First Ministers’ Meeting since December 2018 despite repeated requests from Premiers. Premiers reiterated their call for a First Ministers’ Meeting to discuss competitiveness and strategic infrastructure. They emphasized the need for predictable and flexible federal funding to support provincial and territorial governments in addressing the full spectrum of infrastructure challenges and priorities unique to their jurisdictions.

Premiers expect the federal government to provide sustaining operating funding of projects in which they invest, while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction.

Ahead of the federal fall economic statement, Premiers also called for constructive federal engagement and immediate action on a number of priority issues.

Strategic Infrastructure

Provinces and territories need to be partners in federal infrastructure and housing programming. Premiers agreed to explore legislative frameworks similar to Québec that require provincial authorization before municipalities or public agencies enter into any agreements with the federal government.

Predictable and flexible federal funding that flows exclusively through provinces and territories is necessary to address unique needs and support long-term capital planning. Premiers called on the federal government to include the new infrastructure program in the fall economic statement. Premiers are opposed to application-based funding in the new infrastructure program and call for provincial and territorial allocations and greater flexibility and coordination across all levels of government.

1 The Northwest Territories was unable to participate due to the Territorial election. Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok was unable to participate due to obligations in the Legislative Assembly.

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