Oct. 3, 2008
CARAQUET (CNB) - Two trade agreements and several initiatives intended to increase provincial co-operation were signed in Caraquet today between Premier Shawn Graham and Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
The premiers said that they were very pleased with the progress achieved on various important matters, in particular agreement on a framework aimed at increasing labour mobility in the construction industry.
"Labour mobility between New Brunswick and Quebec has been an important issue for several decades," said Graham. "I made an election commitment to address the issue, and am very pleased that today, Premier Charest and I have concluded an agreement that will facilitate access to both provinces for workers and contractors in the construction industry, and at the same time will improve both economies through a better circulation of construction workers."
The premiers also signed an agreement on public procurement, which will streamline and modernize the original agreement signed in 1994 that served as a critical precedent for the signing of the Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT) in 1995.
The current agreement has made significant progress in opening up procurement opportunities in the public sector to suppliers from both parties, especially through the implementation of a single electronic window, where all calls for tenders will be available.
"We agreed today on a modern, lighter text that will ensure that the agreement on public procurement is linked with the provisions of the AIT," Charest said. "This agreement will be an asset that will be more accessible and easier to use for suppliers from both provinces."
The premiers also discussed the francophone immigration challenges faced by both provinces. They authorized officials to draw up an action plan that will build on the exchange of skills, knowledge, expertise, and best practices in various fields, including regionalization of immigration, recognition of the prior learning and skills of immigrants, employer awareness of cultural diversity, and online francization.
The premiers also announced a partnership between the Quebec National Library and Archives (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) and the New Brunswick Public Library Service (NBPLS) that will allow the NBPLS access to online services and collections that are useful and relevant. In addition, the two organizations have initiated four co-operation projects: the joint acquisition, with all of Quebec's public libraries, of the Encyclopédie Universalis; New Brunswick's access to the Contes en ligne et au bout du fil à l'intention des enfants; registration of the NBPLS in Quebec's library extranet; and agreeing to share their bibliographic data for cataloguing.
The premiers also signed the 2008-10 work plan for implementation of the framework co-operation agreement signed in 2006, which sets out initiatives and matters on which the governments will co-operate in the 23 sectors covered by the agreement. These include the Francophonie, transportation, culture, natural resources, fisheries, the environment, health, and social services.
In addition, the premiers also noted mutual interests in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency, and agreed to share their governments' best practices in those fields.
Graham and Charest also discussed the 12th Francophonie Summit, to be held in Quebec City, Que. from Oct. 17 to 19. They expressed enthusiasm at the idea of receiving representatives of the Francophonie from all over the world, and are confident that this summit will be very productive with respect to the Francophonie's activities and its involvement in major issues such as the environment. With the federal government, the two provinces are partners in the organization of this international event.
Co-operation and exchanges between New Brunswick and Quebec have a positive impact on the economies of both provinces. Every year, New Brunswick exports about $2.7 billion in goods and services to Quebec, with Quebec exporting about $2.8 billion in goods and services to New Brunswick.
MEDIA CONTACT: Gisèle Regimbal, director of communications, Intergovernmental Affairs, 506-444-4594; Jonathan Trudeau, communications, Office of the Premier of Quebec, 418-643-5321.