Alberta is taking another bold step toward free trade within Canada by doing away with eight more of its exceptions under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), and narrowing two more.
This comes on the heels of Alberta’s decision to eliminate 13 CFTA exceptions in July, including all those related to procurement. This means Alberta is removing more than 80 per cent of its exceptions, going from the third highest among provinces and territories to by far the lowest number of exceptions to the free trade rules amongst Canada’s provinces and territories.
“Internal barriers to trade and labour mobility within our country cost the Canadian economy between $50 billion and $130 billion every year. Our government continues to lead on scrapping barriers to free trade and welcoming the investment, economic growth and jobs that come with an open economy.”
The eliminated exceptions deal with areas such as the energy sector, alcohol and the sale of public lands.
“The removal of these exceptions will strengthen interprovincial trade in Canada and mean great things for Alberta’s economy. I call on all other provinces and territories to meet Alberta’s ambition to end the economic balkanization of our country, and become the true economic union envisaged by the fathers of Confederation. Alberta is embracing our ‘get ‘er done’ spirit by acting on, not talking about, free trade.”
Along with the two exceptions being narrowed, Alberta is maintaining four other exceptions. These exceptions continue to be necessary to strengthening the province and its economic interests.
As previously announced, Alberta is also undertaking a fast-track review to potentially expand unilateral recognition of professional and licensed credentials from across Canada, continuing our pledge to make Alberta the most open labour market and freest economy in Canada.
Exception 1: Limitations on the sale of public lands - Public Lands Act and regulations
- This exception permitted Alberta to restrict ownership of public lands in the province. Alberta’s requirements in these areas continue to be non-discriminatory and apply equally to Canadians anywhere in the country. Alberta will maintain our current legislation and policies prohibiting foreign purchases of public and protected lands.
Exception 2: Limitations on the sale of controlled lands - Foreign Ownership of Land Regulations
- This exception allowed Alberta to restrict ownership of controlled land in the province. Alberta’s requirements continue to be non-discriminatory and apply equally to Canadians anywhere in the country.
Exception 3: Dispositions of Crown land, including provincial parks
- This exception allowed Alberta to restrict grazing permits from being held by persons residing outside Alberta and corporations with majority ownership residing outside of the province. Alberta is amending the policy to foster an open and competitive marketplace. Alberta will maintain our current legislation and policies prohibiting foreign purchases of public and protected lands.
Exception 4: Guiding and outfitting for wildlife hunting
- The exception allowed the province to restrict permits and licences in this sector to Alberta residents only. Alberta’s laws and regulations related to wildlife hunting allow for Canadian residents to hold big game outfitter and game permits, and big game guide designations.
Exception 6: Power purchase agreements
- Power purchase agreements helped protect privately owned Alberta power companies from government subsidized competitors in other jurisdictions. The government is allowing them to expire on Jan. 1, 2021, further supporting stability in Alberta’s electricity market.
Exception 8: Retaliation in the alcoholic beverages sector
- While this exception allowed Alberta to counter discriminatory practices in other jurisdictions, the province is eager to work cooperatively with its CFTA partners to open liquor markets to Alberta’s liquor products, rather than resort to retaliatory measures. This exception has never been used and Alberta will retain the ability to bring legal and trade challenges against other parties in violation of the constitution or the CFTA.
Exception 12: Renewable energy
- Though it was originally introduced to expand renewable energy development in Alberta, protectionist policies are not necessary for Alberta to develop successful renewable energy programs and projects.
Exception 13: Retaliation in the energy sector
- This exception provided a mechanism to deal with jurisdictions that inhibit trade in the energy sector. Alberta will use advocacy, negotiation and the CFTA dispute resolution guidelines to convince other governments to open their energy sectors, rather than relying on retaliatory actions. This exception has never been used and does not negate Alberta’s ability to use Bill 12 to maximize the value of our natural resources.
Exception 7: Market access for alcoholic beverages - removal of paragraph (d)
- Narrowing this exception demonstrates Alberta’s commitment to an open and competitive liquor market by removing the ability to restrict employment numbers in the sector.
Exception 9: Market access for forest resources and products - removal of paragraphs (d) and (e)
- This exception allows Alberta to take regulatory action to strengthen its forestry sector. The paragraphs being eliminated allowed Alberta to limit the types of legal entities and employment in the sector.
Alberta is maintaining four market access exceptions under the CFTA since they are not intended to inhibit trade. For example, two exceptions are required to maintain the authority of the AGLC to apply a markup on alcohol in what is by far the most open alcohol market in Canada.