FAQs Standards and Regulations


The NWPTA requires that government and public entities remove impediments across all economic sectors.  The Agreement is comprehensive, applying to all government measures (e.g., legislation, regulations, standards, policies, procedures, guidelines, procurement, etc.) affecting trade, investment and labour mobility.

Specifically, the NWPTA obligates public entities to ensure:

  • No obstacles: government standards and regulations cannot restrict or impair trade, investment or labour mobility between or among the four provinces.
  • Non-discrimination: there will be no preferential treatment of a province's people, investments, goods or services, except for justified actual cost-of-service differences.

Special provisions have been established for certain economic sectors covering investment, business subsidies, labour mobility, procurement, energy, and transportation. These special provisions augment and further elaborate upon the general rules. Although the NWPTA has special provisions that define particular obligations in certain sectors, the breadth of its scope covers trade, investment and labour mobility in all economic sectors.

Does the NWPTA lower the standards and regulations for trades, professions and occupations?

No. The NWPTA requires that the provinces work together collaboratively to identify impediments to the movement of people from one province to the other, determine why the differences that createimpediments exist, and consider whether these differences are truly necessary.

Further, the NWPTA provinces are obligated to work toward the enhancement of sustainable development, consumer and environmental protection, and health, safety and labour standards.

Will the NWPTA provinces have the same standards and regulations?

No. The NWPTA does not require that the provinces have the same standards and regulations with respect to trade, investment and labour mobility.

Are there exceptions to the obligation to reconcile standards and regulations?
The NWPTA does not apply to provincial measures for water, taxation, royalties, labour standards, occupational health and safety, procurement of health and social services, social policy, and Aboriginal policies and programs. Many of these exceptions have conditions attached to them. Refer to Part V of the Agreement for details.

Can businesses choose which province's regulations to operate under?

No. Businesses must comply with the regulations of the province in which they are operating.

Are the provinces allowed to continue regulating occupations as they see fit?

A fundamental part of labour mobility is the obligation of the NWPTA provincial governments, and their regulated bodies, to review and reconcile the different approaches to regulating occupations. However, each province retains the right to set its own standards under the NWPTA for legitimate objectives, such as to ensure the protection of the public, consumers and the environment.

What impact will labour mobility have on maintaining standards?

Regulatory bodies for almost all professions have reported that occupational standards in the NWPTA provinces are very consistent. In most cases, there will be no changes to current practices. If a province does have concerns, it is entitled to maintain additional measures so long as it can justify the measures as serving a legitimate objective.

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