Evidence of meeting #2 for Subcommittee of the Standing Committee on Finance on Bill C-38 in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was environmental.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Jayson Myers  President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division
  • Christopher Smillie  Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office
  • David Collyer  President, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers
  • Denise Carpenter  President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association
  • Terry Rees  Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Associations
  • Peter Meisenheimer  Executive Director, Ontario Commercial Fisheries' Association
  • Ward Prystay  Principal, Environmental Services, Stantec Consulting Ltd., Canadian Construction Association
  • Pierre Gratton  President and Chief Executive Officer, Mining Association of Canada
  • Ray Orb  Vice-President, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

How much time do I have left, Mr. Chair?

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Ten seconds.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Mike Allen Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

From your trades perspective, have you seen projects in certain regions of the country filter all through...and the benefits?

8:40 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office

Christopher Smillie

In terms of training more people and being able to partner with industry to say this is what's happening in sort of a logical process, absolutely. We're contractually obligated to provide labour to some job sites, so it would definitely help with that.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Blaine Calkins

Thank you very much, Mr. Smillie.

Thank you, Mr. Allen.

We've now moving on to Ms. Ambler, for up to five minutes, please.

May 28th, 2012 / 8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My questions are for Mr. Myers, Mr. Smillie, and Ms. Carpenter.

I'm curious to know what percentage of the average project is devoted to environmental assessments. I guess I'm trying to get at how energy is currently expended by a proponent of a project. You may not have exact numbers, but I'd like even your thoughts on whether it's too much or too little. I have a feeling that one of you might have some numbers on that.

Mr. Myers.

8:40 p.m.

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division

Jayson Myers

I think probably Denise is in a better position to give you an example of how much might be expended on a nuclear project.

Let me say, with respect to some smaller enterprises, that we'll not have to now go through this convoluted system of proposals that can take an environmental assessment that's done at a provincial level and seek equivalency on the basis of that. There are a lot of small businesses that go through that.

In many cases, it's a hard argument to make; there are no clear costs because the project never goes ahead in the first place. I think those are some of the costs we sometimes forget. These aren't just costs that larger companies have to go through before the projects get under way; this is also very much an issue about clearing the ground for some smaller businesses that are making proposals and who now don't have to go through this convoluted process.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Sort of a spillover effect.

8:40 p.m.

President and CEO, Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters - Ontario Division

Jayson Myers

That's right.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Ms. Carpenter, go ahead.

8:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association

Denise Carpenter

Thank you for the question.

I don't have an exact percentage, but I can maybe paint a picture. If we have a limited amount of resources from a corporate point of view, from a government point of view, and from an NGO point of view, and those resources are deployed doing environmental assessments over and over again, to the same outcomes—what could we do with that resource if we weren't doing repetitive work? We could reassign that resource to do things that really mattered for the environment, whether it be compliance or monitoring in the future.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

In short, do you believe that the approach in part 3 of the budget we're talking about tonight is a good balance of environmental assessment of projects going forward?

8:40 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Canadian Nuclear Association

Denise Carpenter

Sure. I ultimately believe that if we have one project and one review in a clearly defined time period and in a clearly defined process, it's going to be better for the environment because we can deploy resources to do other work.

8:40 p.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Mississauga South, ON

Thank you.

Mr. Smillie, will this new approach help your industry and specifically the workers on the ground who are training today for those jobs of tomorrow?

8:45 p.m.

Senior Advisor, Government Relations and Public Affairs, Building and Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO, Canadian Office

Christopher Smillie

In order to be a construction apprentice or in order to learn a trade, you have to be employed. You can't sit in a classroom and learn how to be a steamfitter. Eighty percent of your learning is on the job. Anytime we're able to increase the number of apprentices, or people who are training apprentices, is a good thing.

The employers we work for, I'll be frank, sit around and wait for environmental reviews before they put shovels in the ground. That means our hiring halls, through the unionized system, are responsible for finding employment for those folks. If it's not on a large energy project or a natural resources-specific project, then we have to find them work in the industrial ICI sector, building apartment buildings.

I would submit that the backbone of the construction industry—and I think the CCA, who represents all the companies, is speaking to you later—would be in the energy sector, related by volume.