Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak about the first in-person meeting of the Northern Premiers in over two years.
On May 9, Premier Cochrane and I were welcomed to Whitehorse by Premier Silver, the current Chair of the Northern Premiers’ Forum. We discussed several important priorities, including Arctic security, housing, and healthcare.
Mr. Speaker, as the Northern Premiers we committed to working with the federal government and Indigenous partners to strengthen Canada’s position in the Arctic. We agreed that Arctic sovereignty and security are enhanced by strengthening our communities, and discussed the need for coordinated federal investments informed by Northerners. We noted the need for increased federal investment in the Rangers program and new investments in critical infrastructure such as transportation, energy, and telecommunications.
Mr. Speaker, we agreed to continued collaboration with the federal government and Indigenous partners on solutions to our housing gap. We noted that long-term sustainable and flexible funds are needed for building, operation, and maintenance costs. We also encourage the federal government to attach meaningful and robust investments to the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework that support housing, infrastructure, reconciliation, Arctic security and climate change.
Mr. Speaker, we discussed how the pandemic continues to strain all facets of the healthcare system and highlight the need for improvements to Elder care. We agreed on the significance of a pan-territorial approach to health human resources and that a focus on the needs of Northern, rural and remote areas should inform any pan-Canadian strategy.
Mr. Speaker, all three of us look forward to negotiating a First Ministers’ agreement on sustainable healthcare funding and to continued and focused partnerships in strengthening the Arctic.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.