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Western economic task force wants to see immediate action in federal budget

Downtown Saskatoon turning corner as 2020 approaches: Charlie Clark
Saskatoon's mayor said a task force would be making a full range of concrete recommendations to Ottawa in the coming months. Tyler Schroeder / Global News

Municipal leaders from across Western Canada advocated for quick actions to be taken by the federal government in its upcoming budget.

Members of the Western Economic Solutions Taskforce met on Feb. 11.

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Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and Economic Development Minister Melanie Joly took part in the meeting on behalf of the federal government.

Saskatoon Mayor Charlie Clark said local leaders brought forward three recommendations they believe could be acted on immediately in the federal government’s 2020 budget.

The first is creating a program supporting faster reclamation of abandoned oil and gas wells alongside efforts to address regulatory environment and industry liability.

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The second is reimbursing farmers for the cost of the carbon tax on grain drying.

The final recommendation is implementing the infrastructure minister’s mandate letter committing to create a new infrastructure fund for communities in oil and gas regions.

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Clark said several other topics were discussed including market access, tensions between energy and climate policies, supporting diversification and investing in local infrastructure.

He added the task force would be making a full range of concrete recommendations to Ottawa in the coming months.