The premiers of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan are working to create new opportunities through the year-old New West Partnership agreement between the three western provinces, including collaborative health care purchasing that could save the provinces millions of taxpayer dollars.
Premier Christy Clark today hosted Premier Brad Wall of Saskatchewan and Premier Ed Stelmach of Alberta for a meeting in Vancouver to continue building on the partnership, which represents a combined annual GDP of nearly half-a-trillion dollars. The New West Partnership is the only association of Canadian provinces to have a binding trade agreement and an effective economic and policy advocacy approach.
"The three-province New West Partnership is strong and our work making this a successful agreement continues," said Premier Clark. "Together, B.C., Saskatchewan and Alberta are strengthening the economy, creating a market attractive to investors and improving value for families and
"The New West Partnership is important to all of us," said Premier Stelmach. "Collectively we are working together to improve access to emerging markets in India, Asia and the Middle East that will contribute to our economic growth and help pay for Canada's health care and other
"Through the partnership, the new joint purchasing arrangement is changing the way the three governments purchase goods and services," said Premier Wall. "Working smarter and with more efficiency lowers costs to taxpayers while delivering important public services needed by families and their communities."
The premiers pointed to three specific sectors that are already experiencing tangible benefits from the New West Partnership:
* The provinces are working to expand B.C.'s model of unified health care purchasing across the New West Partnership. Centralized purchasing has saved British Columbia about $150 million in health care since 2009 and could be implemented across the three provinces to create greater combined savings with an even larger unified purchasing group.
* The three provinces are working on an RFP for combined purchasing of products used to close wounds, such as sutures and staples, which is expected to bring savings for the provinces.
* The partnership is also aligning provincial drug plans, which will lead to lower generic drug costs.
* Researchers in the areas of medical sciences, physics and astronomy, and ocean sciences are taking advantage of world-class facilities in the three provinces, making more efficient use of existing centres.
* The provinces are sharing information, best practices and comparing regulatory approaches, including monitoring major carbon capture and storage projects. Future joint projects include forestry technology.
Energy and Trade
* A unique collaboration saw for the first time Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia participate in a joint consultation with the petroleum and natural gas industry to identify barriers and opportunities. Ten major industry associations participated.
* In addition, a joint strategy to promote energy trade and improved access to Asian markets is being developed. Expansion of the capacity at the Port Metro Vancouver could improve the flow of goods from all three provinces to growing Asian markets - products such as wood, coal, grain and potash.
* The three provinces make up about 90 per cent of Canada's total oil production, and together are a world leader in natural gas production.
Signed by the three provinces in April 2010, the New West Partnership Agreement is an economic partnership and commits the provincial governments to ongoing collaboration on innovative ways to strengthen
the economy of the West. The New West Partnership focuses on four areas key to economic growth: trade; international cooperation; innovation; and procurement.
For more information, visit the New West Partnership online at: http://www.newwestpartnership.ca/