Follow Us! Like Our Page!

Western Premiers focus on affordability, economic prosperity, and a secure future

Press Release

WHITEHORSE, YUKON – Premiers of Canada’s Western provinces and territories met to discuss shared priorities and collaborative action to strengthen the foundations for long-term and sustainable economic growth across the region and improve quality of life for Western Canadians.

Affordability

Western Premiers expressed significant concern with the impacts of inflation and high interest rates, increasing food prices, and the cost and availability of housing. They discussed actions being taken in their jurisdictions to address affordability challenges, including providing supports to the most vulnerable residents. Premiers discussed the federal government’s commitment to fund provincial and territorial school food programs. Premiers agreed that meaningful engagement and consultation from the federal government is necessary to ensure that this funding aligns with provincial and territorial programs and priorities to help students reach their learning potential.

Premiers also discussed opportunities to improve supply chains and stressed the need for the federal government to meaningfully engage with provinces and territories on solutions to decrease the cost of food, provide relief to residents, and grow the economy. As Western Canada faces another year of drought and wildfire, federal collaboration is also needed to provide timely support to farmers and alleviate cost pressures on food production.

All Western jurisdictions are working to address their unique housing challenges, increase housing supply, and lower housing costs. While Premiers acknowledge the efforts being made at the federal level, greater collaboration is required. Premiers discussed recent federal policy announcements and noted that substantial engagement from the federal government is needed to ensure new funding complements ongoing investments being made by provinces and territories. Provinces and territories are best-positioned to address the needs of their communities.

Premiers discussed concerns about programs that were established and/or enhanced through federal funding but which lack long-term funding commitments to support provincial and territorial priorities and address affordability challenges. Federal funding for childcare that is scheduled to end in 2025/26 risks significant disruption to parents, providers, and employers across Western Canada, and Premiers call on the federal government to work with them on the timely renewal of this partnership and ensure long-term, adequate, and flexible support.

Economic Prosperity and Indigenous Economic Reconciliation

Premiers discussed the nation-building potential of infrastructure that connects Western jurisdictions to each other, to the rest of Canada, and to the world.

Western Canada is an important driver of Canada’s economy. Premiers call on the federal government to ensure western Canada receives its fair share of federal dollars for infrastructure and economic development projects.

Maintaining access to international markets through supporting infrastructure and services is important to maximizing the value of goods produced by provinces and territories. Improving transportation infrastructure will help address the ongoing affordability crisis facing Canadians, support a more secure Arctic, and improve Western Canada’s international competitiveness. Premiers discussed ongoing work by Western jurisdictions to strengthen economic corridors and agreed to continue to work together to enhance cooperation.

Premiers expressed disappointment that the 2024 federal budget did not include a successor to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Premiers reiterated the need for flexible, predictable, and long-term federal infrastructure funding that is delivered on a base-plus-per capita basis. Premiers also call on the federal government to support investments in strategic infrastructure, including through the renewal and expansion of the federal National Trade Corridors Fund.

Indigenous engagement and participation is fundamental to advance strategic infrastructure projects in Western Canada as well as to unlock economic opportunities across a wide range of sectors. Provincial and territorial governments can support reconciliation by maximizing the benefits of these investments for Indigenous communities.

Premiers also recognize the importance of strong economic development partnerships between Indigenous groups and the private sector, and discussed supports that enable equity and other investment opportunities and meaningful participation in projects where there is shared interest and readiness. Premiers call on the federal government to expedite the launch of the national Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program, and work with provinces and territories to harmonize the program with existing initiatives to ensure investments are aligned.

Canada’s future prosperity relies on a skilled workforce that can adapt to labour market changes.  Premiers are disappointed that the federal government chose to cut $625 million from Labour Market Transfer Agreements. This funding cut will negatively impact outcomes for Canadians.

Electrification and Energy Security

Western Premiers are focused on energy security and the importance of investment in the generation and transmission of cleaner energy as we mitigate climate change. Western Canada already develops and supplies the world with energy and resources that are produced to high sustainability and ethical standards.

More must be done to harness Western Canada’s energy resources, including oil and gas, liquified natural gas, uranium, and hydroelectricity, as well as in emerging opportunities such as hydrogen, bio-fuels, small modular nuclear reactors, and critical minerals. As provinces and territories look to build electrification and energy infrastructure to connect communities, power industry, and bring energy products to market, substantial new federal investments and improved cooperation are needed. It also requires constructive work between federal, provincial, and territorial governments to strengthen the investment conditions for these vital projects.

Countries are increasingly looking to lower-carbon energy sources to reduce emissions and respond to growing power demand. Canada is a world leader in emission reduction technologies and has the existing energy resources to position itself as a key supplier of energy as the world moves toward net-zero emissions. Premiers continue to call on the federal government to explore internationally-transferred mitigation outcomes under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement so that provincial and territorial governments and companies can receive credit for reductions resulting from products originating in their jurisdictions.

Premiers urge the federal government to work collaboratively to meet climate and energy targets and for federal climate policies to respect early and ongoing action led by provinces and territories in these areas. The federal government must act swiftly to advance legislation for previously-announced clean energy and technology Investment Tax Credits (ITC), while increasing the flexibility of these incentives to maximize investment potential. This includes extending eligibility of the Clean Technology ITC to intra-provincial transmission lines and extending the eligibility of the Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage ITC to Enhanced Oil Recovery projects and other innovative projects that will help commercialize and scale Canadian technology.   The federal government must also recognize that tax measures alone are not sufficient to support energy infrastructure required in northern regions.

With increasing energy prices globally, Premiers remain concerned that Canadians are being treated inconsistently by federal actions related to the federal carbon tax. They also discussed the impacts of the federal Clean Electricity Regulations, Clean Fuel Regulations, and proposed oil and gas emissions cap. Premiers are unanimous in their expectation that federal policies and programs should be delivered in a fair, flexible, and equitable way to recognize regional differences.

Premiers are committed to environmental protection and Indigenous engagement and participation in the energy sector. While adhering to the strong environmental, social, and governance principles that distinguish Canadian energy products, the timely completion of major projects is essential and the federal government must expedite review processes. Premiers call on the federal government to work with provinces and territories to ensure that Canada’s assessment and regulatory regimes respect jurisdiction and are efficient, responsible, and globally competitive.

Arctic Security

The path to a stronger Canadian Arctic requires investment in critical transportation, energy, and telecommunications infrastructure that supports healthy, vibrant communities and economic growth. Such investments will also unlock the potential of critical minerals needed by Canada and its allies while safeguarding the region’s long-term security.

Western Premiers welcomed the federal government’s announcement of the defence policy update. New defence investments and working towards meeting the NATO target of defence spending equal to two per cent of GDP are an opportunity to strengthen the military presence in the North, support multi-use infrastructure, support western industries, and protect Canadian sovereignty across the Arctic and northern regions. Premiers look forward to working with the federal government to implement these measures and reiterated the importance of including Northerners’ knowledge and perspectives in decision-making on Arctic security and sovereignty.

Canada-U.S. Relations

Canada and the United States have a longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship which enables the ongoing prosperity and security of both countries. Canada and the United States have deeply integrated economies and share one of the largest trading relationships in the world, underpinned by the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). CUSMA provides a stable, predictable, and transparent business environment, and makes both countries more resilient and globally competitive. Western Premiers are optimistic that the upcoming review of CUSMA in 2026 can further strengthen the North America trading relationship.

Premiers shared perspectives on current efforts to enhance relationships with U.S. counterparts. They emphasized the importance of provincial and territorial advocacy with U.S. federal and state decision-makers, as well as U.S. industry and business stakeholders. Premiers encourage the Canadian federal government to reflect provincial and territorial priorities in its engagement with U.S. partners.

Public Safety

Western Premiers are committed to improving community safety and are taking action in their jurisdictions to make sure offenders, particularly repeat violent offenders and drug traffickers, are kept off the street. Amendments to the Criminal Code passed by the federal government last December to strengthen the bail system was a first step, but more needs to be done.

Many inmates in correctional centres suffer from substance abuse and mental health disorders. Western Premiers are calling on the federal government to do more: in the correctional system, on bail reform, increased support for rehabilitation, and addressing underlying causes contributing to recidivism.  Premiers pointed to innovative approaches such as British Columbia’s ReVOII (Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative) which has shown early success in monitoring and managing the small number of people who are repeat offending, or Alberta’s approach implementing therapeutic treatment units staffed with therapists alongside correctional officers in provincial institutions.

Disaster Preparedness and Response

Western Premiers expressed gratitude for the significant and ongoing contributions made by emergency responders. Climate-related and catastrophic weather events are intensifying in frequency and severity. Premiers agreed that disaster preparedness and response is critical to ensuring our communities are more resilient and better positioned to respond now and in the future.

Premiers are committed to supporting each other’s communities when faced with wildfires, droughts, and floods by contributing resources to combat disasters and providing emergency management and evacuation support. Premiers also expressed appreciation for the support of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in responding to disasters and emergencies. They urged the federal government to appropriately resource the CAF and ensure members receive cross-training in fire and flood response, allowing additional resources to be deployed when they are most needed.

Premiers call on the federal government to uphold their public financial commitments for disaster response and mitigation.

As the federal government works to modernize the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements, continuing close collaboration with provinces and territories on this work will be essential. The renewed arrangements must provide provinces and territories with timely, accessible, flexible, adequate, and culturally-appropriate support. The renewed program must not shift additional risks and costs to provinces and territories and must allow sufficient time for existing provincial and territorial programs to align with the new federal parameters.

Chair of 2025 Western Premiers’ Conference

The Northwest Territories was confirmed as host for the next meeting of Western Premiers in 2025.

Media contact

Laura Seeley
Cabinet Communications
Government of Yukon
867-332-7627
laura.seeley@yukon.ca

IBF4

Loading

NationTalk Partners & Sponsors Learn More