Alberta license plates are no longer welcome on new job sites for Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure.
On Dec. 6, the Government of Saskatchewan announced the license plate-based ban to match similar treatment in Alberta.
“Saskatchewan contractors tell us that vehicles with Saskatchewan plates are not welcome on Government of Alberta job sites,” said David Marit, the Highways and Infrastructure minister and minister responsible for SaskBuilds. “Saskatchewan operators feel forced to register their vehicles in Alberta if they want to do business there. Today’s announcement just levels the playing field.”
According to Alberta Trade Minister Deron Bilous, his province doesn’t deny out of province plates from its job sites. As well, he believes the plate ban violates the New West Trade Partnership, a free trade agreement inked between provinces in Western Canada. Bilous also delivered an ultimatum to Saskachewan.
“Roll back the new rule within the next week or we’ll see you in court,” he said.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley also took a jab at Alberta’s neighbour to the east, during a speech to the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce.
“If any of you drove here and have a Saskatchewan license plate, you might want to move your car because we are towing,” she said.
Saskatchewan has no plans to back down from its ban. The new restriction is a response to industry feedback that Alberta’s practice places Saskatchewan suppliers at a competitive disadvantage. The restriction only applies to new contracts awarded by the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure. Existing job sites will not be impacted.
“We are very pleased to see government enacting changes that will level the playing field for our members,” said Shantel Lipp, president of the Saskatchewan Heavy Construction Association. “Saskatchewan heavy construction contractors have been one of the largest employers in the province in good years and in bad, creating major economic impacts and fiscal benefits for Saskatchewan.”
Lipp added the association’s members regularly invest in people, and machinery to build the province’s network of roads, railways, pipelines and dams, as well as mines and cities.
“As local construction companies obtain a larger share of the Saskatchewan construction marketplace they develop the people, equipment and capacity to maximize their economies of scale,” Lipp said.
Following the announcement, new contracts awarded by the ministry will require suppliers to ensure that no vehicles display Alberta license plates on ministry-funded work sites.
The restriction includes contractors, sub-contractors, consultants and workers. Ministry staff will enforce the contract provision through job site monitoring.
“Saskatchewan operators have been subject to this treatment in Alberta for years,” Marit said. “Today, we are sending a clear message that Alberta suppliers can expect the very same treatment here.”