Provincial finance ministers from across the country were in Ottawa to meet with federal finance minister Bill Morneau, regarding trade and other issues, both domestically and abroad.
Saskatchewan’s Donna Harpauer was one of them.
Speaking from the nation’s capital, she said one of the more prominent matters they discussed in regards to Canadian issues was the Trans Mountain pipeline and how it massively affects all aspects of the Canadian economy.
“It affects Saskatchewan and Manitoba, we’re land-locked provinces,” she noted. “But, the point that I wanted to bring forward is let’s start to take into account all the other industries that it affects. Because in Saskatchewan, we have potash. Their storage is full and they can’t get cars to get it on rail. And if we didn’t have oil on rail , that would free up the capacity of these cars. We have agriculture products with the same challenge.”
Harpauer said this is causing the province and country to lose markets, as consumers and buyers want a timely delivery of products and that’s something that can’t be guaranteed.
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She also noted listening to industry leaders from the province of Saskatchewan talk about something they all found common ground on: a lack of competitiveness.
“I’m hearing from industry, and other ministers are hearing, that industries are looking to invest south,” she stated. “And it has to do with a lack of being able to move product and it has to do with the tax differences with the reform in taxation in the U.S.”
Harpauer stated these are things worth examination, as she said we’re becoming increasingly incompetitive and unreliable, which isn’t good for future investment in Canada and Saskatchewan.
Another prominent issue that took a great deal of time surrounding tariffs and retaliatory measures to them.
The Donald Trump administration in the United States has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum products, something the Trudeau government then turned and announced retaliatory tariffs on American products, which are set to take effect as of July 1st.
Harpauer says they’re aware of what the Trump administration plans to do, now they need to know what the federal government plans to do on their end.
“We need to have clarity on retaliatory measures.” Harpauer said. “We’re not against them at all. A number of provinces expressed concern about them, we’re just cautious.”
Harpauer noted Morneau and the federal government would give them the information on the specific products and industries they’d be retaliating against. Then, this would allow the provinces to do individual analysis on how it would affect their own industries.