Western Economic Diversification Canada
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Provincial Government Developments

British Columbia

  • Government of BC supports LNG for marine transportation - The provincial government has announced amendments to its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Regulation (GGRR) that will support natural gas utilities’ ability to increase liquid natural gas (LNG) and renewable natural gas (RNG) use in transportation, marine, and other sectors. The changes to the GGRR will allow programs funded by utilities to increase incentives for LNG use in the marine sector, including the conversion of vessels to LNG, increased marine fuelling infrastructure, and increased supply of RNG. This action is part of the province’s Climate Leadership plan and is intended to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
     
  • Government of BC reaches pipeline agreements with Indigenous communities - Benefit agreements have been entered into with 29 First Nations communities located along four proposed natural gas pipelines in northern BC. This represents agreements with 90 percent of the eligible First Nations, for a total of 64 agreements. Most agreements include an initial payment of over $1 million as well as additional payments for milestones during the projects. The agreements are aimed at establishing long-term relationships between the provincial government and the Indigenous communities, which will support environmentally and socially responsible LNG development. The proposed pipelines include the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission pipeline, the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project, the Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission Project, and the Pacific Trail Pipeline Project.
     
  • Government of BC prepares for and responds to softwood lumber - The provincial government announced an investment of $7.7 million to diversify markets for the softwood lumber industry and reduce reliance on the US market. The investment will go towards promoting the use of BC wood, advancing wood products, and increasing global markets. Additionally, the province announced the formation of a Wood Secretariat, intended to promote the value-added and specialty wood sector, including innovation, skills training, and access to markets. The Secretariat will be co-chaired by a representative from government and from industry.
     
  • Government of BC provides funding to reduce Indigenous communities diesel reliance - The BC government, through the First Nations Clean Energy Business Fund, is investing over $750,000 in nine First Nations clean energy projects. These projects will reduce the reliance on diesel power generation, a concern for many remote Indigenous communities, by exploring alternative and sustainable energy sources. Projects include: the Wuikinuxv Nation’s 350-kilowatt run-of-river hydroelectricity facility, Lhtako Dene increasing its stake in the Castle Mountain Independent power project, Westbank First Nation exploring the possibility of installing rooftop solar panels to heat a portion of its community school and building centre, Semiahmoo First Nation developing a community clean-energy plan, and the Ts’elxwéyeqw Tribe exploring a partnership with the proponent of the Frosst Creek Hydro project.

Alberta

  • Government of Alberta signs protocol agreement with the Blackfoot Confederacy -The Government of Alberta has signed a new protocol agreement with the Blackfoot Confederacy, which includes three First Nations in southern Alberta: the Blood Tribe (or Kainai First Nation), Piikani Nation, and Siksika Nation. Membership in the three nations totals 25,000. The agreement establishes a formal process for collaboration on economic development, culture and language, environment, reconciliation, and other issues. This is the first protocol agreement signed between the Government of Alberta and a First Nations group outside the Treaty areas of the province. The Government of Alberta will provide a $375,000 grant to the Blackfoot Confederacy to support implementation of the agreement.
     
  • National Gathering of Elders receives funding from the Government of Alberta -The Government of Alberta is providing $100,000 to support the National Gathering of Elders, which brings together representatives from 623 First Nations, Métis, and Inuit groups to discuss issues such as reconciliation, treaties, climate change, and education. The event will be held in Edmonton from September 11-14, 2017. The gathering is also expected to address relationship-building with corporations, institutions, and Canadians to achieve greater mutual understanding. Approximately 3,000-4,000 delegates from across Canada will be in attendance.
     
  • Alberta will not establish a Crown Corporation for Infrastructure -The Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), released April 2017, included a list of key exclusions by jurisdiction that were negotiated by the provinces, territories, and federal government over the past two years. Although the final agreement stated that Alberta intends to create a Crown corporation responsible for all infrastructure procurement conducted by the provincial government, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, Deron Bilous, has indicated that this will not be the case. Minister Bilous noted that the language was included to allow future Alberta governments the option of establishing a Crown corporation but that the current government has no intention of doing so.
     
  • CARES funding announced for Unmanned Aerial Systems Range -The Government of Alberta is providing $300,000 to the Village of Foremost for phase two of its Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Range project. The funding is part of the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program, announced in September 2016, which will provide up to $30 million for economic development projects in the province. In June 2016, Western Economic Diversification Canada invested $300,000 into the UAS project to support range fit-up costs. The Government of Alberta provided $100,000 at the same time for business development and range management. The Foremost facility is the first permanent restricted airspace for unmanned air systems (drones) in Canada and is used for research and development and testing for civil and commercial drones.
     
  • Government of Alberta engages in international missions - The Government of Alberta has engaged in several missions to the US and Asia over the month of April. These included a trip by Premier Rachel Notley and Economic Development and Trade Minister Deron Bilous to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Tokyo to grow Alberta’s energy export markets. The trip resulted in several Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) with Chinese partners and the signing of a sister-province relationship agreement with the province of Guangdong. In addition, Edmonton-Decore MLA Chris Nielsen traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico for bilateral talks on trade at the National Council of State Legislatures, and Energy Minister Margaret McCuaig-Boyd traveled to New York City to attend the Future of Energy Summit.
     
  • Alberta FireSmart Program receives increased funding -The Government of Alberta is providing $45 million over the next three years for its FireSmart Program, which includes $10.5 million for fire prevention in the Fort McMurray area. The FireSmart program is a national program that supports municipalities to reduce the risk of wildfires. Funds will go towards education, vegetation management, planning, interagency co-operation, and emergency planning.

Saskatchewan

  • Premier Brad Wall supports federal stance on softwood lumber - On April 25, 2017, the Premier of Saskatchewan, Brad Wall, joined other provincial premiers in a conference call with Prime Minister Trudeau to discuss Canada’s approach to the latest softwood lumber dispute. Premier Wall took the opportunity to compliment the federal government’s approach to Canada-US trade relations and announced his support to take the same firm and united stance. In 2016, Saskatchewan’s softwood lumber exports to the US totalled roughly $84 million. Softwood lumber exports to the US represented roughly 15 percent of the province’s total forestry exports in 2016. Incoming tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber exports could have a negative impact on Saskatchewan’s forestry sector, which accounts for approximately 3,000 direct and indirect jobs in the province.
     
  • Saskatchewan leading in wholesale trade growth rate - On April 24, 2017, the Government of Saskatchewan issued a news release announcing that in February 2017 wholesale trade in the province increased by 18.3 percent (seasonally adjusted) over 2016, the highest percentage increase among the provinces and almost three times the 6.6 percent recorded nationally for the same period. On a month-over-month basis, the rate increased by 3.1 percent between January and February, recording the highest rise among the provinces. The wholesale trade growth is an indicator of the strength and resilience of the Saskatchewan economy.
     
  • Canadian Free Trade Agreement a benefit for Saskatchewan - According to Saskatchewan’s Minister responsible for trade, the new Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) will help Saskatchewan businesses and workers pursue opportunities across the country. The agreement, which takes effect July 1, 2017, will greatly reduce barriers to trade, investment, and worker mobility resulting in more opportunities for the province’s economy to grow and diversify. Saskatchewan businesses exported nearly $20 billion worth of goods and services to the rest of Canada in 2015.

Manitoba

  • Government of Manitoba releases 2017 budget -The Government of Manitoba released its latest budget on April 11, 2017. The province’s Budget 2017 includes a 2.1 percent increase to core government spending and a deficit of $840 million, down from a projected $872 million in 2016.
     
  • Manitoba launches Northern Economic Summit series -On April 3, 2017, Manitoba Growth, Enterprise, and Trade Minister Cliff Cullen launched a series of Northern Economic Summits to engage northern businesses and residents as part of the government’s Look North Strategy for long-term, sustainable northern economic development.
     
  • Canada and Manitoba invest in water and wastewater infrastructure -The governments of Manitoba and Canada are investing more than $37 million in 24 new water and wastewater infrastructure projects across rural Manitoba. The investments will support a variety of projects intended to contribute to the health and well-being of residents, protect provincial waterways, and preserve local ecosystems.