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Québec and Ontario Partner to Strengthen Central Canada's Economy

Québec City, August 21, 2014 – Québec Premier Philippe Couillard and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne met today and made a commitment to reinvigorate and strengthen the relationship between the two provinces in order to reinforce the central Canadian regional partnership.

"Ontario and Québec share a long and rich history of collaboration, which has led to great achievements in the past. Both provinces have undertaken to work more closely together and to revitalize the strategic relationship we have maintained for years now, since we share many common interests and priorities," said Premier Couillard.

The two provinces form the largest economic region of Canada, with 22 million Canadians. Together, Québec and Ontario are responsible for approximately 57 per cent of Canada's total GDP and 53 per cent of inter-provincial exports.

"By strengthening our partnership, Ontario and Québec will be better positioned to face the challenges of the new economy. By working more closely together, we will help to grow the economy, attract businesses and investments and create jobs. I believe our collaboration will benefit not only this region, but Canada as a whole," said Premier Wynne.

The meeting focused chiefly on Ontario and Québec’s shared priorities, such as economic and trade activity issues, climate change, infrastructure and energy supply.

Joint Cabinet Meetings

Building on the foundations of the cooperation established in the past between the Ontario and Québec governments, the premiers have agreed to pursue joint meetings of their cabinets. They are thus pleased to announce that their fourth joint meeting will be held in Toronto in late 2014. This meeting will have a substantive agenda, which will allow both governments to make progress on common priorities. This will also deepen the relationships already developed between their respective ministers in many areas.

Trade and Cooperation

Premiers Wynne and Couillard reiterated their commitment to enhancing trade between the two provinces. "We intend to reinvigorate the Ontario-Québec Trade and Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009. This agreement has already delivered concrete results, including making it easier for our workforce to move freely between our two provinces, creating a life sciences innovation corridor and supporting enhanced electricity trade," said Premier Wynne.

"We have made progress, but want to go further and increase trade between Québec and Ontario. Initially, we will expand access to our respective public procurement for our businesses in a manner as ambitious as that which we demonstrated during negotiations with the European Union," emphasized Premier Couillard.

Premiers Couillard and Wynne have also agreed to explore the viability of expanding electricity trade between Ontario and Québec. In addition, they indicated that they will both participate in the Council of the Federation's mission to China in October 2014 to advance their international trade and investment interests

Climate Change

Premiers Couillard and Wynne also discussed climate change in light of extreme weather events, as well as the importance of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. They agreed it is more important than ever to address this common issue, which is a top priority for both of their governments. All discussions on energy should take a balanced approach by considering climate change and energy innovation opportunities. Québec and Ontario are Canada's leaders in combatting climate change and have made tremendous progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

On January 1, 2014, Québec and California officially linked their respective cap-and-trade systems with the Western Climate Initiative (WCI), thereby creating the largest regional carbon market in North America designed and operated by subnational governments of two different countries. Québec and California will hold a first formal joint auction in November 2014.

"As stated by the UN, any successful strategy aimed at reducing emissions of greenhouse gases should include determining a price for carbon. Québec strongly believes that a cap-and-trade system is an efficient and economically viable response to this global challenge. We are looking forward to recruiting new partners among our neighbours to join forces in the necessary transition to a low carbon economy," said Premier Couillard.

"Climate change is one of the most urgent environmental challenges of our time. Ontario will continue to be a leader in combatting climate change. We look forward to working with our partners to safeguard and build upon the progress we have made," said Premier Wynne.

Ontario became the first jurisdiction in North America to have completely eliminated coal as a source of electricity generation. The closure of Ontario's coal-burning power plants is equivalent to taking 7 million cars off the road.

As an initial step in bilateral cooperation, premiers Couillard and Wynne opted to create a working group to support their ministers responsible for the environment and climate change. This group would be chaired by the appropriate deputy ministers and have a mandate to update and strengthen bilateral environmental cooperation agreements, focusing primarily on climate change issues.

Infrastructure

The premiers also acknowledged the importance of infrastructure and the economic benefits associated with infrastructure investments, notably regarding job creation and economic growth. Both provinces have significant infrastructure plans and recognize that the Building Canada Plan is an important element of the federal government's approach to funding infrastructure.

Ontario and Québec consider that federal infrastructure funding should be increased in order to respond to the slower rate of economic recovery and job creation in Eastern Canada. Ontario and Québec are looking for enhanced, stable and predictable funding through a transfer of federal funds, which lets provinces determine their own infrastructure investment priorities, rather than a project-by-project approach.
 

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Online as of: July 16, 2015


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