The Alberta government has set a deadline for Saskatchewan to revoke a ban on Alberta licence plates at job sites, or face a lawsuit.
Earlier Wednesday, the Saskatchewan government announced any new contracts for government work on buildings and highways will require any and all worker vehicles to not have Alberta plates.
Saskatchewan’s Highways and Infrastructure Minister David Marit said the move was “levelling the playing field for highway tender contractors,” saying workers had complained Alberta had already put in similar restrictions.
Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said no such ban was in place.
“I can assure you that Alberta Transportation does not exclude vehicles with Saskatchewan licence plates from its job sites,” Mason said. “I’ve checked with the department, I’ve checked with the construction association, there is no such restriction.”
Ken Gibson, Executive Director of the Alberta Construction Association, said both sides needed to meet and discuss what happened.
“The best way to resolve this is to have the two governments sit down, and compare notes and follow up on the allegations from our Saskatchewan friends, and find out exactly what’s going on,” Gibson said.
“The impact would be additional costs, and ultimately, that means fewer jobs and quite often Alberta firms doing work in Saskatchewan are hiring Saskatchewan tradespeople.”
Economic Development Minister Deron Bilous spoke to reporters about the ban, saying the move “reeks of desperation”.
“Brad Wall is absolutely desperate, we know our economy is growing by 4 percent, their economy is in the dumps,” Bilous said.
Saskatchewan officials said staff at the province’s Ministry of Infrastructure would enforce the ban through on-site monitoring.
When asked by reporters if the measure was in violation of the New West Partnership, Marit admitted he wasn’t sure, that “it could be” a violation of the agreement.
“I felt very strongly in protecting Saskatchewan companies,” Marit said.
Bilous issued an ultimatum to the Saskatchewan government: pull the ban or head to court.
“[Saskatchewan Premier] Brad Wall needs to smarten up,” Bilous said. “He has one week to kill this ridiculous restriction or we will be taking him to court.”
With files from CTV Edmonton’s Angela Jung, CTV Regina, and The Canadian Press
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