CALGARY - Ontario intends to open a new trade office in Calgary in the coming months.
Eric Hoskins, Ontario's minister of economic development, made the announcement to delegates on the opening day of the National Supply Chain Forum in Calgary.
"Alberta is poised to buy billions of dollars in Ontario-made goods in the coming years, especially in the areas of water treatment, energy, and infrastructure, and we are committed to seizing that opportunity," said Hoskins.
"Our province's new trade office in Calgary will help Ontario businesses access Alberta’s market, grow their businesses, and create jobs."
Many Ontario-based companies are at the forum, including specialists in wastewater treatment, custom fabrication, engineering and oilfield services.
An Ontario government news release said the initiative will help Ontario firms connect with companies in Alberta to fulfil supply needs. It will also explore opportunities for Ontario's small-and-medium-sized enterprises.
Ontario doesn't have an office in Alberta right now, although a bureaucrat at the Ontario legislature devotes part of his time dealing with Alberta files.
The move appears to be a growing indicator of warming relations between Alberta and Ontario.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne paid a visit to Alberta Premier Alison Redford last month and said what's good for Alberta's oil and gas industry is good for her province, too.
"Oil and gas are clearly fundamental to Alberta's economy and to Canada's but also to Ontario's — and I want everyone to know that I understand that and I want to advance that," Wynne told a corporate crowd in Calgary.
"Many of our Ontario manufacturers now directly support your industry. I want us to build on that relationship.''
Wynne set a different tone than that of her predecessor on her first official visit to Alberta since she became premier of Canada's most populous province in January.
Dalton McGuinty drew Alberta's scorn last year when he said the oil and gas industry was driving up the loonie and making it more difficult for Ontario manufacturers to export their goods. He later softened his stance.
The news about the trade office was well received at the forum.
"That's a really exciting development in terms not only of our attempts to have a very strong national energy conversation but actually building really important bridges between the two provinces," said Bill Whitelaw, chief executive officer of JuneWarren-Nickle's Energy Group.
Western Diversification Minister Michelle Rempel favours increased trade opportunities between provinces.
"Any time we can increase trade opportunities between provinces it's a good thing," said Rempel.
"Obviously it's a positive announcement and I think the opportunities for trade across Canada are something that we should be promoting and it's great."