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Western premiers aim to make it easier for people to move between provinces

B.C. Premier Christy Clark, (L to R) Sask. Premier Brad Wall and Alberta Premier Alison Redford are seen in this composite image. A meeting between the premiers of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan has turned into a conference call. THE CANADIAN PRESS/files

REGINA – The premiers of Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia have agreed to make it easier for people moving between the provinces to license their cars or continue apprenticeships.

Starting in April 2015, people who move between the three provinces won’t need to get their cars inspected if their vehicles are less than four years old. Nor will they need an inspection if one has been done at a designated facility within the last 90 days.

The decision was made by Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Alberta Premier Alison Redford and B.C. Premier Christy Clark in a conference call Thursday for a meeting of what they call the “New West Partnership.”

“Right now, technically, if you bring in a vehicle, any vehicle, and you want to plate it here or you want to plate it in British Columbia, you could be required to have an inspection on the vehicle,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in Regina.

“And we’re just saying look, that’s not necessary, especially for the newer vehicles.”

Currently, all vehicles must be inspected once they arrive in the new province, but that can be cumbersome and costly for workers and families.

The premiers have also agreed that apprentices in the skilled trades will be able to move without having to start their training all over again.

Wall quoted Sarah Watts-Rynard, executive director of the Canadian Apprenticeship Forum, who said Canada has 13 different apprenticeship systems. When an apprentice loses his or her job in one part of the country, it can be difficult to transfer employment hours and levels of training to another region where there is a higher demand, he read.

“You know that’s probably dumb for Canada to have that kind of a system, especially when we have a labour shortage in parts of the country, especially in the trades,” said Wall.

“And so we three…the New West Partnership premiers, are going to direct our ministers to harmonize these apprenticeship initiatives across the West, to do by September 2014. It’s an aggressive target, but that’s the one we’ve set.”

The premiers say that will be better for employers that operate in more than one province and will allow Western provinces to more easily share training resources.

The premiers have also signed a memorandum of understanding to look at getting more open source textbooks in an effort to save students and their parents money. B.C. already makes nearly 20 textbooks available for free online to post-secondary students.

“Parents and students embraced this with open arms because it’s such a relief not to be spending $600 or $1,000 on your textbooks,” said Clark.

Clark says B.C. has started with entry level courses, the ones that are most subscribed.

She says there’s less variation in the course offerings between the provinces at that level so it makes “a really, really good target for all of us to work on together.”

Redford was on the conference call with the premiers, but did not talk part in the follow up call with media.