Geoff MacLellan said Wednesday that the province needs to begin work on trying to remove the MV Miner, which became stranded in September 2011 off the coast of Scatarie Island, a provincially protected wilderness area.
MacLellan said the government wants to work with Ottawa on a plan to share the costs of removing the bulk carrier.
"We can't afford to do this as a province, but we have to do something because it could be a navigational hazard," he said.
"We're trying to spend precious tax dollars on improving education and health care and we just can't spend it on removing derelict ships, so we need help from the federal government."
MacLellan said it's not clear how much reclaiming the large ship would cost since estimates have ranged from $5 million to $25 million.
It's also not clear when work could begin on the removal, but he said the call for proposals should go out in a few weeks.
"Certainly within 2013 we'd like to have a good idea of where we're at dollar-wise before we move on," he said. "At this point, it's very tough to pinpoint what the final price tag is going to be."
Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt could not be reached for comment. But in August, Raitt said a decision on the shipwreck would be made in the coming months, adding that she was still being briefed on the matter at the time.
MacLellan said he also wants a review of Canadian shipping laws to see if there are loopholes that allowed the accident to happen.
The ship was being towed to Turkey to be scrapped when it ran aground.
Former premier Darrell Dexter called on the federal government to remove the ship, but Ottawa said it was the salvage company's responsibility.
A salvage company had agreed to do the work but it later left the job, citing concerns with bureaucratic hurdles and calling on the province to pay for expenses.