Evidence of meeting #33 for Fisheries and Oceans in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was dredging.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Claire Dansereau  Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • George Da Pont  Commissioner, Canadian Coast Guard, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Cal Hegge  Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • David Bevan  Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans
  • Serge Labonté  Senior Director General, Science Renewal, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

9:40 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Bevan

That's what they're asking.

9:40 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

And your position is?

9:40 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Bevan

We haven't gone there yet. That's something that could be considered at some point in the future, but we aren't doing that at this point. We are simply seeing now whether what we have provided to the lending institutions will be adequate to provide capital for this combining of enterprises.

I would say as well that so far we've had 30 requests since we've moved ahead with the change in policy to allow the combining of enterprises, and these are early days. That means 30 requests involving 60 enterprises. So people are finding capital to move ahead with the combining process, and hopefully the steps we've taken will provide the comfort needed to the lending institutions to be a part of the process.

May 8th, 2008 / 9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Bevan, one of the things that was discussed in the Fisheries Act--and maybe you can add some more detail to this--was that the 15-year clause in the new Bill C-32, which was also in Bill C-45, talked about how it is possible to secure financing.

Because I'm having a heck of a time trying to wrap my head around this one, could you explain where the length of time is strengthened, such that it allows the ability to easily finance for bigger operations, say?

9:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Fisheries and Aquaculture Management, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

David Bevan

Right now the minister issues a licence each year. There's no legal status in that licence beyond one year. The practice has been to reissue, of course, but legally that licence only lasts for a year.

If you're a lending institution, you're being asked to lend somebody money on an asset that only lasts a year, and is issued at the absolute discretion of the minister. There's nothing in law that says the minister has to reissue that licence. Therefore, lending institutions have some nervousness about that kind of process.

What we have in Bill C-32, and had in Bill C-45, was to provide more duration in law to the licence, which in many cases is the biggest asset in the enterprise, and provide it with a legal status where it lasts for enough time to allow the debts to be amortized over that period of time.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Fabian Manning

Good questions, Mr. Simms, but with two seconds, you don't have much time for follow-up. I'm sorry.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Thank you, sir, for the little time you've given me.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Fabian Manning

I try my best.

Mr. Blais or Mr. Lévesque.

9:45 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I would like to come back to the subject of small craft harbours. Earlier, I mentioned the short term and the medium term. But I would now like to talk about the long term. I feel more comfortable talking to you about the long term, because, for us, the long term can come to an end very quickly after the next election, whereas it is different for you.

Looking at the matter of small craft harbours in the long term, as the manager responsible... If we were a private company, we would be heading into bankruptcy. How do you see the matter in the long term, in 10 or 15 years? Today, repairs may cost $600 million, but they are going to cost more later. Eventually, the only way to reduce the investment will be to do away with the inventory of infrastructures. They are not just going to be in ruins; they will be too dangerous, too unsafe. That “long term” concerns me a lot. I understand that you are all fiscally responsible, but on the other hand, I imagine that the situation sends you looking for long-term solutions. What are those solutions, if they exist?

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

I will ask Cal to talk to you about our planning system.

We live in the long term, the medium term and the short term. We do plans and analyses for the long term, to show us where we want to go, and we deal with the short term by handling specific and immediate crises.

The long-term plan mostly depends on our close cooperation with community volunteers who agree to take on a lot of responsibilities. Those relationships are very important for us and are an integral part of our long-term planning. This is not just about cement and nails. The relationships with people in the neighbourhood enable us to protect the long term. So we make long-term investment plans for infrastructure and for capital. We look at the short term too. But, as everyone knows, we do not have enough money.

No government will ever have enough money to handle all the priorities. So, each year, we make choices.

9:45 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

I assume it was a slip of the tongue when you mentioned working with people in the neighbourhood.

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Claire Dansereau

Yes. I meant to say in the communities, but still, small towns have neighbourhoods too.

9:45 a.m.

Bloc

Raynald Blais Gaspésie—Îles-de-la-Madeleine, QC

Let us say that it was a slip of the tongue, because we could have another debate about that.

9:45 a.m.

Associate Deputy Minister, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

9:45 a.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Human Resources and Corporate Services, Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Cal Hegge

I would like to support what Ms. Dansereau said. Every day, we work in close cooperation with revenue-generating harbour authorities.The revenues that these authorities generate have increased. They have agreed to work with us to solve the problem of insufficient resources. To do that, we have to increase the capabilities of harbour authorities. That is part of our strategy.

We are going to continue to work with other departments. We have discussed infrastructures with the Department of Transport and with bodies that look after economic initiatives, like MACO, in order to find solutions within government.

We are going to keep working with central agencies in order to find ways to get the biggest budget possible. Clearly, it is not enough, but we are going to do what we can.