You are on page 1of 3

Realizing the Norths economic potential

anada is recognized as a country rich in natural resources. Nowhere is this more true than in Canadas North. With nearly 40 percent of Canadas land mass, and a coastline that is twice as long as the Atlantic and Pacific coasts combined, Canadas Arctic is a vast and diverse region. I am proud to count myself as one of the approximately 110,000 people who call the North home. For Northerners, our cultural, social and economic wellbeing is tied to our unique environment. The sustainable use of natural resources has defined and shaped Canadas economic prosperity, the same prospects that are now present for the North. We are at a point where Canadas North has the potential to become an engine for economic growth for the entire country and a world class destination for the resource development sector. Our Government recognizes the tremendous opportunities as well as challenges that exist in the North today. That is why in 2007, the Government of Canada announced Canadas Northern Strategy: Our North, Our Heritage, Our Future, outlining Canadas overarching vision for the North. The Northern Strategy is focused on four interrelated priority areas: exercising our Arctic sovereignty; promoting social and economic development; protecting the Norths environmental heritage; and improving and devolving Northern governance, so that Northerners have a greater say in their own destiny. We have been taking concrete steps to advance our vision for the North, for the benefit of Northerners, Aboriginal communities and all Canadians. Over the past seven years, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has travelled to Canadas Arctic every year to demonstrate our Governments commitment to advance all pillars of the Northern Strategy. Advancing economic development and prosperity under Canadas Economic Action Plan 2012, including streamlining the regulatory processes for Northern resource projects was a particular focus of this years Northern Tour. The scale of resource development in the North is reaching unprecedented levels. Commodity prices have brought global attention to the Norths rich sup-


Hon. Leona Aglukkaq

ply of minerals, metals, oil and gas. Emerging markets around the world provide Canada with an opportunity to responsibly develop our natural resources for the benefit of all Canadians, while strengthening our world-class protection of the environment. Industrys commitment to Northern development is reflected in record levels of investment in mineral exploration across the North. In 2011, the total value of mineral exploration in Canadas three territories was approximately $914 million. This represents an 85 percent increase from the previous year. For 2012, investment is likely to exceed $1 billion. This interest is also leading to an increase in the number of projects being brought forward for approval. While the previous decade saw 10 projects go through the environmental assessment process, there are currently 11 projects in review. These projects represent 3,000 jobs and $8 billion in capital investment. With over 150 companies undertaking active exploration in the territories, the number of these projects could increase rapidly. Major natural resources projects have the potential to generate jobs and improve economic prosperity for Northerners. Success will bring billions of dollars in capital investment, thousands of jobs, and contribute significantly to Canadas gross domestic product for decades. As projects go into production over the next decade, the impact will be profound. The Government of Canada recognizes that mineral exploration and development in Canadas three territories is an enormous opportunity for the future prosperity of our country. This is why it is crucial that the regulatory system is as efficient and effective as possible, to encourage continued investment in the territories. As the Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor), the Agency is working hard to help develop a strong and diversified Northern economy which benefits those who live, work and support their families in the territories. Economic prosperity in the North provides a solid foundation for the well-being of Northerners, while benefiting all Canadians.
Northern Public Affairs, Fall 2012 31

Recognizing the challenges that industry can face in navigating through the Northern regulatory process, in 2010 the Government created the Northern Projects Management Office (NPMO) within CanNor. The NPMO is a single-window within the federal government for resource exploration and development companies that are advancing major projects through all stages of the regulatory approval process. From exploration through to decommissioning NPMO provides advice and assistance to help companies navigate the review process more effectively and efficiently. The NPMO is currently working with 30 companies operating in the North, with more companies being added to the portfolio each month. Within the federal government, NPMO also coordinates the work of federal regulators to avoid overlap and duplication. At the same time the NPMO is working directly with Northern communities to help them maximize their participation in and the benefits from major resource development projects. A strong regulatory regime depends on a process based on clearly defined rules and timelines, and that reflects minimal overlap or duplication between federal and territorial activities. In March 2012, the Government of Canada followed through on our commitment to these principles with the introduction of the Jobs, Growth and Long-Term Prosperity Act. The Act contained measures to make regulatory reviews more predictable and timely, while balancing our high standards of environmental protection and to make more meaningful engagement with our unique partnership of Government and Aboriginal groups. We are taking steps to improve the conditions for investment in and development of Canadas natural resources in a sustainable manner. These actions, which build on Canadas Northern Strategy and Canadas Economic Action Plan 2012, received Royal Assent in June and are in the process of being implemented. The changes, along with the future changes targeted specifically to the Northern regulatory regime, will help simplify Canadas most complex regulatory systems. The intent is to help generate even more exploration, investment and major projects in the North. A more efficient and predictable review process will also help Northerners to benefit from this development sooner rather than later. The Government of Canada showed its continued commitment to resource development in 2012 Budget by extending the 15 percent Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for investors for an additional year. The Budget also renewed the Diamond Valuation and Royalty Assessment Program with $12.3 million over
32 Northern Public Affairs, Fall 2012

two years. The success of the large-scale resource development projects depends on a labour force with the right skills and training. Improving the quality and effectiveness of skills development and training is critical. In February 2012, the Prime Minister announced that the Government will be spending $27 million over five years to support adult basic education across the three territories. This investment will help position Northerners to take advantage of the job opportunities that economic development brings, including getting the basic skills that lead to job specific training for work in the mining sector. Increasing Aboriginal participation in the Northern labour market is an important way to address the challenging socio-economic conditions facing many Aboriginal people, especially young Aboriginal people. With a median age of 25 years old in the territories, the Aboriginal population represents a strong potential labour pool that remains largely untapped. At CanNor, investments and services are delivered to industry, territorial organizations, and Aboriginal communities to support capacity building and Aboriginal business development to facilitate participation in Northern major resource projects. Resource development is but one component of the Governments Northern Strategy. As the North moves forward to realize its full economic potential, it also faces challenges, such as how to respond to environmental and social questions raised by these resource development opportunities. Targeted scientific research and technology are key to the success of the Northern Strategy and are needed to support sound decision-making. Budget 2012 confirmed this Governments ongoing commitment to the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay. More recently, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced support for the construction and operation of the station and for its Science and Technology Program during his August 2012 Arctic Tour. Once established, the station will provide a yearround presence in the region and anchor the network of research infrastructure across Canadas North. It will support top scientists who will provide a clear picture of the state of the environment, and complements other Government of Canada initiatives such as the Beaufort Regional Environmental Assessment. Our Northern Strategy also guides Canadas international efforts for the Arctic. The Government of Canada works closely with territorial and Aboriginal leaders, Northerners, and partners in the circumpolar Arctic so the North can achieve its full promise as a vibrant region within a strong and sovereign Canada. I am proud to have been named as

Photo credit: Government of Canada.

Canadas Minister for the Arctic Council, and I looking forward to working with my circumpolar partners to foster the collective development of the Arctic so that these efforts make a difference in the everyday lives of Northerners. The time has come to embrace the North and realize the tremendous potential and opportunities it has to offer for us all. By working with our partners at home and abroad, facing our common challenges

The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq.

and building on our experience and knowledge of the North, together we will support strong, healthy, sustainable, and vibrant communities in Canadas North. The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq is Minister of Health, Regional Minister for the North, and was recently appointed Chair of the Arctic Council.
Northern Public Affairs, Fall 2012