By Anthony Capkun
May 17, 2013 – Territorial premiers met in Whitehorse, Yukon, for the 11th annual Northern Premiersʼ Forum, where they discussed numerous issues of importance, including cost-effective energy systems, as well as cleaner alternatives. The expense of powering with diesel impedes economic development across the North by driving up the cost of living and the cost of doing business, say the premiers.
“The availability of hydropower is essential for attracting industrial-scale projects to the North,” add the premiers. “Expanding northern transmission infrastructure aligns closely with the vision presented in Canadaʼs Northern Strategy.”
The premiers say they will ensure northern interests are represented in the Council of the Federation’s Canadian Energy Strategy, including the importance of open access to southern and international markets to allow territories to import and export energy resources.
The Northʼs economic potential is not limited to its natural resource base, say they premiers. Enhanced communications infrastructure will diversify and strengthen northern economies and attract investment.
Enhanced connectivity will benefit northerners by improving program and service delivery, and by increasing innovation opportunities. It will also enhance programs such as telehealth, online learning and e-commerce. Territories are currently taking steps to strengthen fiber link and other communications infrastructure, say the northern leaders.
The territoriesʼ economies are expanding, meaning northern residents need to be prepared for current and future labour market opportunities. The premiers agreed that it is important to ensure northern people benefit from northern jobs.
Skills training is essential in territorial growth and the premiers look forward to receiving more detail on recently announced federal changes to skills training programs. They emphasized the importance of retaining the flexibility to ensure programs meet the needs of northerners.