MONTREAL – The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, the Honourable Donna Cansfield, Ontario Minister of Transportation, and Ms. Julie Boulet, Quebec Minister of Transportation, today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the development of the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.

"Canada's prosperity and quality of life depends on our success as a trading nation. Today, Canada's New Government is taking action by working in partnership to assess needs and plan investments and policy measures to develop a modern and efficient transportation system allowing us to take advantage of significant international trade opportunities," said Minister Cannon. "As part of our broader Building Canada plan to restore infrastructure in the country, efficient gateways and corridors will fuel economic growth and boost Canada's competitiveness in global markets."

The action plan signed today will be undertaken over the next two years and has the following objectives:

  • examine global markets and trade opportunities for Canada; 
  • target key initiatives with significant trade potential that will benefit all Canadians; 
  • prepare for the future by developing a strategy that responds to new trade patterns and trends; and 
  • address issues linked to transportation, such as protecting the environment, ensuring quality of life and enhancing the security of Canadians.

"Ontario and Quebec are vital contributors to the Canadian economy, representing about 60 per cent of Canada's exports and gross domestic product," said Minister Cansfield. "Developing a sustainable transportation system that focuses on all transport options will keep our provinces globally competitive as a prime location for investment. Our partnership is good news for residents of Ontario, Quebec and all of Canada."

Results will be delivered by working in partnership with the public and private sectors on a long-term strategy to support Canada's international trade, particularly the strong economic relationship between Canada and the United States.

"We are investing in the development of this Gateway and trade corridor in response to the protocol of cooperation signed by the Ontario and Quebec governments last year," stated Minister Boulet. "I am convinced that this initiative will improve the efficiency of the transport systems of both Ontario and Quebec, and that the partnership of our three governments will maintain and enhance the economic contribution this trade corridor has made throughout Canada's history. This unique planning approach, in partnership with the private sector, is a model of collaboration that will allow us to ensure its success."

In the shorter term, a private sector advisory committee that will share information and gather data to better understand international trade and transportation patterns will be established. They will also explore ways to optimize the connections between air, marine, road and rail transportation to better meet current and future demands in transportation.

Canada's New Government has developed a National Policy Framework for Strategic Gateways and Corridors to advance the competitiveness of the Canadian economy in the rapidly changing field of global commerce, and to guide investment decisions on gateways and border crossings as part of the federal government's long-term infrastructure plan. Future federal gateway and corridor strategies will be guided by this framework, focused on transportation systems of road, rail, marine and air infrastructure of national significance to international commerce.

On June 2, 2006, the Governments of Ontario and Quebec signed a Cooperation Protocol with an agreement on the transportation sector. Among other objectives, this protocol seeks to promote the development of the Ontario-Quebec trade corridor and to collaborate on improving the efficiency of all transportation modes in the corridor that move goods and people.

In addition, Canada's New Government recently launched the "Building Canada" infrastructure plan. With a budget of $33 billion between 2007 and 2014, "Building Canada" provides more funding for provincial, territorial and municipal infrastructure, and for a longer period of time than any federal government since the Second World War. It includes $2.1 billion through the new Gateways and Border Crossings Fund to improve the flow of goods between Canada and the rest of the world by enhancing infrastructure at key locations, such as major border crossings between Canada and the United States.

A backgrounder on the MOU is attached.

Backgrounder

Memorandum of Understanding for the Development of the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor

Ontario and Quebec are vital contributors to the Canadian economy representing approximately 60 percent of Canada's exports and gross domestic product. In 2006, total exports originating from Ontario and Quebec reached a value of $272 billion, while their combined Gross Domestic Product was $840 billion.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Canada, Ontario and Quebec establishes the framework for federal-provincial collaboration to develop the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor in partnership with the private and public sectors. The main objective of this MOU is to establish this commercial gateway and trade corridor as a strategic, integrated and globally competitive transportation system that better supports the movement of international trade.

Under the action plan outlined in the MOU, over the next 24 months, governments and private sector partners will share information and gather data to better understand international trade and transportation patterns. They will also explore ways to optimize the connections between air, marine, road and rail transportation to better meet current and future demands in transportation. The outcome of the partners' collaboration will guide future multimodal infrastructure and non-infrastructure strategies, projects and investments to further improve the Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.

Private sector stakeholders will be engaged on many fronts to help ensure a successful Ontario-Quebec Continental Gateway and Trade Corridor.

The governance structure also establishes two advisory committees – the Private Sector Advisory Committee and the Public Sector Advisory Committee. The Private Sector Advisory committee will bring together the views of both shippers and transportation providers from all modes involved in international commerce, as well as the views of other key gateway and trade stakeholders.

Together we will develop an Ontario-Quebec continental gateway and trade corridor strategy with recommendations on infrastructure investments, policy and regulatory measures to improve Canada's competitiveness in the global economy.