N.B. firms still blocked from work in Quebec

N.B. firms still blocked from work in Quebec
CBC News

Quebec Premier Jean Charest and New Brunswick’s Bernard Lord have signed a new deal encouraging greater co-operation between the two provinces -but without resolving the issue of labour mobility. 2006-04-18lord-charest-entente_n

Lord and Charest met in Moncton on Tuesday to sign a revamped document to replace an inter-provincial agreement that was last updated in 1969. The document covers 23 topics of interest to both provinces, ranging from economic development to tourism.

However, the new deal does not change a long-standing rule that forbids New Brunswick companies from bidding on work in Quebec, but allows Quebec firms to work in New Brunswick. Both leaders say they are working to break down barriers that prevent companies from working in both provinces.

Charest said there were only two complaints about labour mobility last year, and both were dealt with. « We will seek solutions and seek to be as flexible as we can, because it is in everyone’s interest that there be this free movement of labour among our jurisdictions, » he said.

But New Brunswick Liberal Leader Shawn Graham says it’s time to demand that Charest allow contractors from the Maritime province to bid on Quebec government tenders. Graham says it’s an issue of fairness. « These are jobs that are placed under contract for government services, whether it’s at the municipal level or the provincial level. And unfortunately today, as it stands, Quebec-based companies can bid on these contracts in New Brunswick. However, New Brunswick-based companies are not given the same opportunity. » Graham says his party will now introduce legislation blocking Quebec firms from bidding on government contracts in New Brunswick. « The free market system is not working. So that’s why we want to reintroduce the labour mobility act. And when the barriers are taken down in Quebec, then we would eliminate our (proposed) legislation in New Brunswick as well. »

Charest and Lord are scheduled to speak at an event promoting federalism in Edmundston Tuesday evening.

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