Territorial Premiers Renew a Shared Vision for Canada’s North

Sep 4 2014

3Premiers

YELLOWKNIFE (September 4, 2014) – Canada’s territorial Premiers renewed their collaborative vision for the North at the Northern Premiers’ Forum in Yellowknife today.

A Northern Vision: Building a Better North outlines a vision for the North shared by the governments of the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut. It will help the territories to continue working together to ensure the North is a region of vibrant, healthy communities with sound economies and diverse opportunities, and where the environment is protected for future generations.

“Much has changed in the North since A Northern Vision was originally released seven years ago,” said Northwest Territories Premier Robert McLeod. “Political changes through NWT devolution and the settlement of modern treaties and self‑government agreements mean that northerners are taking greater control of their own destinies. The federal government’s Northern Strategy has brought greater focus to the North and its potential, while Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council has increased international attention.”

Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski said: “I am committed to working with my territorial counterparts to create a stronger North. We have reinforced this commitment by renewing A Northern Vision, a document outlining our shared priorities of energy, infrastructure, governance and productive and engaged citizens. Our priority is to ensure continued economic growth in Canada’s North for the benefit of northerners and all Canadians.”

Nunavut Premier Peter Taptuna said: “I welcome an updated version of A Northern Vision as Nunavut is committed to building a stronger North with healthy and self-reliant residents. Nunavut has grown and evolved since the original document was released seven years ago. I believe a renewed focus on energy, infrastructure, governance and responsible resource development can benefit all three territories, their citizens and the rest of Canada.”

The renewed vision is based on four strategic pillars. Productive and Engaged Citizens highlights the territorial governments’ support for healthy and self-reliant residents, including a strong education system and practical skills training.

Energy speaks to the need for reliable and affordable energy systems in order to reduce the cost of living for residents and businesses, and to unlock the North’s substantial resource wealth.

Infrastructure describes the need for robust, reliable infrastructure as the basis for strong communities and resilient economies. Improved transportation systems, including roads, airports, northern ports and coastal access, are essential for improving the quality of life of northern residents.

Governance supports the steps territories are taking to control their environmental, economic, social and political destinies. Partnerships with Aboriginal and Inuit governments and groups are key to this work, as land, resources and self‑government agreements continue to be achieved. A significant accomplishment in this area was the devolution of province-like powers to the Government of the NWT on April 1, 2014.

Responsible environmental stewardship supports each of these pillars, recognizing that the land is central to the North’s cultural identity.

Northern Premiers originally released A Northern Vision: A Stronger North and a Better Canada in 2007. Given changes in the North since then, the Premiers committed at the 2013 Northern Premiers’ Forum to review and update the document.

The previous Northern Vision resulted in pan-territorial cooperation in the areas of climate change and energy. In 2011, Northern Premiers published Paths to a Renewable North: A Pan-Territorial Renewable Energy Inventory and the Pan-Territorial Adaptation Strategy: Moving Forward on Climate Change Adaptation in Canada’s North, which led to the three territories co-hosting the 2013 Pan-Territorial Permafrost Workshop.

For more information visit www.anorthernvision.ca or contact:

Shaun Dean
Director
Cabinet Communications
Government of the NWT
Tel: 867-669-2304
shaun_dean@gov.nt.ca

Elaine Schiman
Cabinet Communications
Government of Yukon
Tel: 867-633-7961
elaine.schiman@gov.yk.ca

Yasmina Pepa
Press Secretary to Premier Peter Taptuna
Government of Nunavut
Tel: 867-222-0961
ypepa@gov.nu.ca

 

NWTYUKONNUNAVUT

 

2014 Northern Premiers’ Forum     Working together to build a better North

YELLOWKNIFE (September 4, 2014) – Territorial Premiers met today for the 12th annual Northern Premiers’ Forum.

The forum provides Premiers with the opportunity to discuss issues of mutual concern, develop made-in-the-North solutions, and promote northern interests. This year, the Premiers renewed the Northern Co‑operation Accord, the formal agreement that outlines how the three governments work together. The Premiers also launched A Northern Vision: Building a Better North, an update to the territories’ broad collaborative vision originally published in 2007.

Mental wellness

Premiers agreed that mental health is a vital part of the overall well-being of communities, families and individuals.  They discussed the challenges of delivering mental health services in remote communities and noted that technology is commonly used in the delivery of other types of healthcare.  Premiers directed their Health Ministers to consider ways to advance E-Mental Health, and other methods of delivering mental health services in remote communities and report back on the outcome of their work at the 2015 Northern Premiers’ Forum.

Housing

Premiers highlighted the importance of access to stable and affordable housing to northern families, communities and the economies of the territories.

As noted in A Northern Vision, Premiers agreed that the economic potential of the territories will be fully realized through the construction of strategic infrastructure, such as housing, which will encourage investment, enable job creation and improve the standard of living. Key to this is a robust private sector able to participate in meeting the housing needs of the North.

Premiers also recognize the important role that the federal government must play in partnership with the territories as they work to strengthen the North’s housing stock, communities and economy.

Energy

Premiers agreed that clean, reliable, affordable energy is the backbone of a sustainable economy, is essential for the well-being of northerners, and fosters investment and economic growth in the North.

Premiers discussed he need for affordable electricity, especially in off-grid communities, an issue that significantly impacts northern communities. This issue was an area of focus at the 2014 Western Premiers Conference in Iqaluit and again at the meeting of Canada’s Premiers last week in Charlottetown. The Premiers stressed the importance of working together in a number of different areas, including renewable and alternative forms of energy. They noted the significant profile given to energy issues in A Northern Vision.

Northern infrastructure

Premiers discussed the vital role of modern infrastructure in developing Canada’s North. Many northern communities are highly dependent on air and marine transportation services, owing to the lack of reliable road access. The construction of all-season roads, improving marine facilities and navigational charts for northern Canada is necessary to support the sustainable development of the North’s rich resource base. It will also improve the safety and effectiveness of critical industry and community marine resupply and resource export operations. In addition, Premiers noted the significant impact  that a strong telecommunications network has on the lives Northerners  and to the business community.

Premiers noted the importance of the investments the federal government continues to make in northern infrastructure. They emphasized that a strong infrastructure network encourages development in the North, which benefits northern communities and Canada.

Arctic Council

As the second half of Canada’s Chairmanship of the Arctic Council unfolds and the Ministerial meeting approaches, Premiers reaffirmed their commitment to working with Canada to ensure territorial priorities continue to be reflected in Canada’s Arctic Council engagement.  As A Northern Vision emphasizes, reaching out to our circumpolar neighbours through the Arctic Council is essential.

Premiers are pleased that the Canadian Chairmanship has consistently hosted meetings in the North.  Premiers encouraged Canada to continue to involve territorial governments in Arctic Council work. Premiers also committed to working with Canada to ensure there is youth engagement with the Arctic Council

Pan-Territorial Adaptation Strategy

Premiers also received an update on the Pan-Territorial Adaptation Strategy, originally released at the 2011 Northern Premiers’ Forum. The initiative, which grew from the previous Northern Vision, has resulted in partnerships across the three territories to address climate change issues and identify common actions and measures in response to this emerging problem. This partnership continues to carry out important work to address the challenging issue of climate change, and Premiers look forward to receiving future updates.

Next meeting

Premier Taptuna confirmed that the 2015 Northern Premiers’ Forum will be held in Nunavut.