Alberta has taken legal action against Saskatchewan over a recent restriction over contractor licence plates.
Alberta’s Economic Development Minister Daron Bilous originally threatened to file a trade injunction against Saskatchewan Thursday if the province didn’t reverse its recent plate restriction.
Since there was no budging from the Wall government, Alberta made good on that promise and filed the paperwork to have the issue resolved by an arbitration panel under the New West Partnership trade agreement.
“This petty and ridiculous restriction has real consequences for businesses and hard working people on both sides of the border,” said Bilous.
He said Saskatchewan could be penalized up to $5 million, adding they have every confidence they will win the dispute, which could take until next fall to resolve.
The Wall government has refused to back down over its restriction to ban vehicles with Alberta plates on Saskatchewan construction job sites, accusing Alberta of having a similar policy in place against vehicles with Sask. plates.
Bilous has denied that.
While to this point it’s only been anecdotal, Saskatchewan’s Economy Minister Steven Bonk confirmed there is hard evidence to suggest comparable rules are in place in Alberta based on information from the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association.
However, he doesn’t want to reveal specific instances.
“Put yourself in the position of a Saskatchewan contractor. They’re hoping to do more business in Alberta but they’re worried about being discriminated against if they were to bring their concerns forward,” Bonk reasoned.
He added the industry and province are seeking balance, not necessarily conflict.
“No one’s looking for a trade war or a trade spat.”
Bonk said the construction association has brought concerns forward that there needs to be a level playing field, saying he takes that feedback very seriously.
“We’re concerned about a disturbing pattern of protectionist measures we’re seeing coming out of Alberta.”
The two provinces are scheduled to meet in January in Lloydminster to discuss the plate issue, in addition to an ongoing issue regarding Alberta’s craft beer system.
With files from the Canadian Press