10/09/2007

Implications for Ontario of the British Columbia – Alberta Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement
Background:

In April 2006, Alberta and British Columbia signed the TILMA as an agreement between the two provinces under article 1800 of the 1994 Canadian Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT). That article allows any of the parties to establish a greater level of trade and investment cooperation than under the AIT. 

TILMA came into effect in April 2007, and required broad-based harmonization of trade, investment, procurement and labour rules that establishes a free market between the two provinces. Under the agreement, Alberta and B.C. agree not to discriminate against companies registered in the other province (with certain exceptions) bidding on government contracts, harmonize labour training standards, recognize companies registered in one province as being registered in another, as well as not to engage in competitive incentives for companies considering investing or locating in one of the two provinces. The provinces also agree to establish non-discriminatory practices in the areas of access to energy, location requirements for business offices, commercial vehicle registration, among others.

The agreement forms the basis of a widespread harmonization of trade, investment and labour standards between Alberta and B.C. and the agreement’s requirements will be extended to the broader public sectors in each province by 2009. In the intervening period, the provinces will consult with these sectors so that provinces can negotiate any exclusions or special provisions they consider necessary. 

Some groups have expressed concerns that TILMA may negatively affect a municipality’s ability to regulate industry within its jurisdiction. While TILMA has not yet been extended to the municipal sector and exclusions from the agreement have not yet been negotiated, B.C.’s Minister for Economic Development, Colin Hansen, has written to Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) members to provide assurances that TILMA is not intended to capture legitimate government actions such as environmental protection, land use planning and zoning, building height restrictions or other public health, safety and environment protections. Until exclusions have been negotiated and municipalities are captured by the agreement, it will be unclear to what extent the municipal sector in Alberta and British Columbia will be affected by the agreement.

It is not clear that the government of Ontario intends to examine the benefits of joining the Agreement at this time. However, AMO has written to the province to ensure the government consults the municipal sector prior to a new agreement being reached so that municipal interests can be considered. 

Action: 

Review AMO’s correspondence to the Premier and the TILMA web site for further information.