Minister of State for Western Economic Development Michelle Rempel was in Prince Rupert on Sept. 4 to meet with community leaders.

Minister of State for Western Economic Development Michelle Rempel was in Prince Rupert on Sept. 4 to meet with community leaders.

Minister of State touts Prince Rupert’s importance to western Canada’s economy

As demand from Asian markets grows, Prince Rupert's importance to the country cannot be understated.

As demand from Asian markets grows, Prince Rupert’s importance to the country cannot be understated.

That was the message of Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification Michelle Rempel during a visit to the North Coast on Sept. 4.

“Prince Rupert really is at the nexus of the next wave of economic growth for western Canada … Prince Rupert is a vital economic link for the country,” she said.

“The success story is Prince Rupert. In 2007, the container terminal was launched and in just a few short years it has seen a huge increase in trade traffic … if you look at that traffic alone, it is a case study to show the impact of trade across western Canada.”

But with the increase in trade, there is a need for skilled workers. It’s a subject that provincial leaders have touched upon during visits to Prince Rupert, and Rempel said it is something the federal government is dedicated to addressing as well.

“It is one of, if not the, most critical priorities. Talking to the port authority, they talked about training opportunities for people who live here and we want to make sure people can get training in the communities where they live,” she said.

“These are questions we’ll look at, but it is something that flows right down to the province and the training institutions as well … how can we innovate so no matter where people live, they have access to that skills training.”

Rempel was in Prince Rupert as part of a tour that saw her visit Saskatoon the day before and fly from Prince Rupert to Kelowna. During her time on the North Coast, Rempel met with the Prince Rupert Port Authority and First Nations in the region, and said what she hears will be taken back to the federal government as they prepare for the next session of Parliament.

“The government will be putting forward a throne speech in the fall, and the feedback I get from this tour will help me as a Member of Parliament and a member of cabinet when it comes to putting forward policy,” she said.

“My first priority in this portfolio is to assist western Canadian businesses find the matches and markets for their product and make sure there is an awareness of the depth and breadth of the personnel market … there are some innovative products out in western Canada that need to find a way to market.”