Premier Dunderdale strong voice at COF meet
July 27, 2012
Premier Dunderdale Strong Voice at Council of the Federation Meeting
Newfoundland and Labrador’s positions on energy, healthcare and employment insurance were highlighted by the Premier Kathy Dunderdale during the Council of the Federation (COF) meeting of Canadian Premiers in Halifax this week.
“The issues and concerns of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need to be heard loudly and clearly by my colleagues throughout the country,” said Premier Dunderdale. “Our province has great insights and expertise, particularly demonstrated in our leadership in building the COF national energy strategy in 2007.”
A working group led by Premier Dunderdale, Alberta Premier Alison Redford, and Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, will work with provincial and territorial energy ministers to build on the 2007 strategy.
British Columbia will not participate in the process at this time.
“Every province and territory has different energy sources and unique energy needs, so it’s important to collaborate and work through any challenges to create jobs and economic opportunities and to develop innovative energy solutions to secure a sustainable energy future,” said Premier Dunderdale. “Energy security is paramount for this country and Newfoundland and Labrador can play a vital role.”
Health care was also on the agenda this week, with Prince Edward Island Premier Robert Ghiz and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall presenting a report from the Health Care Innovation Working Group, which recognized that while individual jurisdictions pursue innovation in their health care systems, more could be accomplished by working together. The report, From Innovation to Action, was presented and endorsed. Premiers Ghiz and Wall agreed to continue to lead the working group for the next phase of work which will examine access to up-to-date, evidence-based treatments and pricing for both brand and generic drugs.
“Newfoundland and Labrador spends more per capita on health care than any other jurisdiction,” said Premier Dunderdale. “And with an aging demographic and high rates of chronic disease, we must be innovative to manage our fiscal demands and ensure the provision of quality health care services to our residents. Other jurisdictions are also grappling with rising health care costs. Collaboration makes sense.”
Premiers also discussed the Federal Government’s planned changes to the Employment Insurance (EI) system. Premier Dunderdale stressed the importance of an EI system that meets the needs of all Canadians, particularly in rural areas of the country.
“Newfoundland and Labrador has a relatively small population that spans a vast geography and a significant portion of our people, many of whom are employed in the seasonal fishing industry, live in coastal communities,” said Premier Dunderdale. “We have unique challenges that must be taken into account when policy changes of such magnitude are being contemplated. In this case, one size does not fit all.”
Premiers agreed that EI must support the unique economic circumstances of all regions of Canada and the Federal Government needs to consult the provinces on changes to the EI program and to provide specific information on how the proposed changes will be implemented. Premier Dunderdale added that if the EI changes result in a removal of support for the seasonal fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Federal Government must replace it with another program.
“Food production is subsidized throughout the world, as is agriculture here in Canada. Canada has a suite of programs for the agricultural sector that protects income and supports agricultural production,” said Premier Dunderdale. “There are no comparable programs for the fishery.”
Premier Dunderdale also weighed in on federal-provincial relations. “The Federal Government needs to ensure that provinces and territories are treated as equal partners in confederation and we need to be consulted on all matters that may affect the well-being of our people,” said the Premier. “I, and my colleagues, would like to see regular First Ministers’ Meetings to ensure the Federal Government fully understands the needs of provinces and territories, which will then inform decision-making and help ensure federal programs and services meet the needs of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all Canadians.”