Saskatchewan and Manitoba concluded their second-annual joint cabinet meeting today in Brandon with the signing of three significant agreements on electricity, transportation and emergency response. These agreements reflect increasing provincial collaboration since the inaugural joint meeting in Yorkton last year.
“The agreements signed today are an indication of what can happen when provinces work together to tackle issues,” said Premier Greg Selinger. “The MOU on transportation will lead to a smoother flow of goods and services. The MOU on electricity will lead to an increased flow of electrical power between the two provinces. The MOU on emergency response will serve both provinces well in times of crisis.”
The new electricity arrangement will see SaskPower and Manitoba Hydro building their co-operative relationship to increase electricity supply, security and reliability, while enhancing economic development and green energy in both provinces. The cabinets are also pleased with the progress toward reducing interprovincial barriers by committing to harmonize a variety of transportation policies and regulations.
After terrible flooding throughout 2010, both provinces are already at an increased risk of early spring flooding with agricultural lands in particular danger. In response, high on today’s agenda was a discussion on flood support and prevention strategies including areas where Saskatchewan and Manitoba can work together. The two cabinets acknowledged the positive collaboration of Fishing Lake and noted that both provinces would benefit from longer-term joint work. Both governments noted the federal government is a critical partner in this work and plan to invite the federal government to collaborate with the provinces in developing flood mitigation and prevention tools.
“Mother nature does not recognize provincial boundaries,” noted Deputy Premier Ken Krawetz. “It is incumbent on both jurisdictions to work together, to protect lives and property.”
The cabinets also shared innovative new health-care programs that put patients first. Manitoba talked about nurse-practitioner-led quick-care clinics that will help to ensure access to primary-care services and allow front line providers to see more patients faster. Saskatchewan shared its innovative program, “Releasing Time to Care,” which will soon be in all medical and surgical wards. The program empowers health staff to improve processes so that they spend more time caring for patients and less time on paperwork.
Finally, the two cabinets noted that provinces, the owners of Canada’s natural resources, are best positioned to protect resources while seeking investment that adds value to provincial economies. Both cabinets agreed that it is crucial for the Investment Canada Act to reflect this important reality.
The cabinets highlighted the upcoming Prairie Scene arts festival – a two-week showcase of Manitoba and Saskatchewan talent that will bring 500 performers and artists from all genres to Ottawa from April 26 to May 8 – as another example of collaboration in action.
The cabinets noted the significant progress that has been made since their inaugural meeting and agreed to further meetings in the future.