Victoria is moving ahead with its trade and labour harmonization agreement with Alberta, which has not yet found favour in provinces to the east. Economic Development Minister Colin Hansen has tabled legislation that sets up a dispute resolution system, with appeals and judicial review. That formalizes the agreement signed by the two provinces in 2006 to promote freer movement of people and services.
, and create Canada’s second-largest economic unit.
As well as harmonizing qualifications for professions and trades, the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) lets businesses such as oilfield servicing to work on both sides of the border with minimum paperwork. The deal has also enabled equal access for chartered bus services, joint participation in energy technology development and cooperative planning and management of provincial parks along the border.
NDP critic Charlie Wyse notes that Saskatchewan’s new government has studied the agreement and apparently chosen not to sign on. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has expressed concerns that TILMA may interfere with provincial tax incentives and Crown corporations.
Wyse has previously criticized TILMA as the latest imposition on municipal authority, since it prevents local government from favouring B.C. suppliers over those from Alberta.
“This scheme was a bad idea when Gordon Campbell first dreamed it up with Ralph Klein, and it’s just as bad of an idea now,” Wyse said.