Wednesday, March 07, 2007

TILMA report tabled at Edmonton City Council meeting; concerns raised by city manager's office

At its March 6, 2007, meeting Edmonton city council received a report from its city manager in response to an Administrative Inquiry regarding the B.C./Alberta Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement (TIMLA) and its known implications to the governance of the City of Edmonton.

According to the short six-page report: “TILMA is not expected to have an impact upon the governance of the City of Edmonton. Areas subject to negotiation and that may require changes are operational and procedural in nature.”

The report, however, identified several provisions in the TIMLA that are of interest to the City of Edmonton.

Like to the recent review of TILMA by Saskatoon’s solicitor, Edmonton found: “There may be implications for the City should it be involved in what could be considered subsidies or incentives to attract business, as these are not permitted under the agreement.”

When it comes to investment the implications of TILMA for Edmonton “have yet to be determined”. There seems to be a lot of this in the report.

As for labour mobility Edmonton says: “With the alignment of scopes of practice by professional organizations of 60 occupations, the City of Edmonton may need to revisit its job standards and regulations as a result of modified scopes of practice. This may require additional testing or assessment in some cases.”

Edmonton sees procurement thresholds as an area where TILMA will impact the city most: “Additional costs for the City would come as a result of the additional time and costs involved in adhering to an open tendering process.”

With respect to TIMLA’s dispute resolution process: “The onus is on the provincial governments to ensure parties in their jurisdictions are compliant. It is unknown how long the provincial government would be willing to pay for penalties for non-compliance without passing the costs onto the party involved.”

Budget, financial, and legal implications as well as some procurement issues will “be determined through negotiations with the Government of Alberta over the 2007-09 transitional period.” This comes as no surprise since municipalities in Alberta weren’t consulted prior to TILMA’s signing.

Attached to the city manager’s report is a colourful two-page feel good TILMA fact sheet courtesy of Alberta International and Intergovernmental Relations and British Columbia Ministry of Economic Development.

Unlike Saskatoon, the Edmonton report is silent on the “right to local choice”. Its importance to Saskatchewan is such that The Cities Act, passed in 2002 with the support of all three political parties, recognized and strengthened the right. Saskatchewan would lose this if it were to sign TILMA. No wonder organizations like the Fraser Institute and Conference Board of Canada like the agreement so much.


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