Evidence of meeting #32 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was million.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Serge Dupont  Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources
  • Tom Rosser  Assistant Deputy Minister, Canadian Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources
  • Carol Buckley  Director General, Office of Energy Efficiency, Department of Natural Resources

10:15 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources

Serge Dupont

Again, I have to apologize. I'm not quite sure on behalf of whom, because it's just the way the system works, but it is a bit complicated.

There was a commitment to Sustainable Development Technology Canada for next-generation biofuels of $500 million. This is a bit like the question concerning the clean energy fund. The issue here is aligning those funds over time to when the projects...because those are in partnership. Typically SDTC will fund up to a third of a project; somebody else has to come up with the other two-thirds, and they actually have to come forward with a viable project. You can't necessarily program that in a budget line right from the get-go.

It was a bit further complicated by the fact that part of the funding for that portion of it, SDTC, the next-generation biofuels, was statutory, i.e., set out directly in the legislation and approved by Parliament in the enabling legislation, and another portion is actually dealt with through normal appropriations. So we have two different categories of funding streams that we then have to juggle over time to try to align and slot with the actual projects that may be brought forward by the private sector and by proponents.

What you're seeing, again, is reallocation of those moneys over time, across those two envelopes: statutory and program.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. Allen. Your time is up.

We go now to Madame Day, followed by Mr. McGuinty.

March 27th, 2012 / 10:20 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question is for Mr. Dupont. Earlier Mr. Oliver said the following: “Through funding we receive from Parliament, Natural Resources Canada is able to make a significant difference in our energy, forestry, and mining sectors.”

Right now, Canada's forestry sector has to fight against the powerful lobbies of the steel and concrete sectors; it is also faced with a stagnant construction industry in the U.S. and it has to cope with its loss of global competitiveness in the paper, wood and construction sectors.

Canada has an opportunity to emerge as a world leader in innovative products, which require investments in research and marketing and they include nanocrystalline cellulose, smart paper and conductive paper.

In your view, what impact will these drastic cuts have on the program? How does the government plan to support the forestry sector transformation now? We are talking about $550 million in cuts.

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources

Serge Dupont

The $550 million cut would not affect innovative cellulose technologies or the actual market expansion. As I said, for three years, the pulp and paper green transformation program has taken into account major international initiatives and market conditions that the Government of Canada had to face.

In terms of the market expansion program, I just mentioned that some programs are expiring, but we will have to wait for theMinister of Finance's budget on Thursday to find out what the government’s decision is on extending those programs.

On our end, we have assessed some of those programs. We have concluded that there was a positive effect, as the Minister mentioned. The department supported the nanocrystalline cellulose project in Quebec. We have also seen a significant expansion of the Chinese market for Canada's wood products, which is quite a major opportunity for Canada and it is changing the industry. It started in the west, but the impact is felt across Canada.

So there are major initiatives underway and they have yielded results. We will see in Thursday’s budget what will happen next.

10:20 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

You are aware of the consequences for Quebec's industry, the industry in eastern Quebec—the forestry and pulp and paper industry is crucial for us.

Let me go back to ecoenergy. I am asking you this question because I did not have the time to ask the minister. Why was this program suspended two months in advance?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources

Serge Dupont

The program was suspended in advance because it was supposed to end in 2011. In the 2011 budget, the government decided to extend the program and set a target of 250,000 Canadian homes to be renovated for energy savings.

The program was launched in July. At the department, we obviously have to manage the program carefully and ensure that we are able to respond to future requests. Over 250,000 Canadians registered through the department’s website. In theory, everyone is eligible for a grant of up to $5,000. Of course, those 250,000 people are not going to be getting the maximum amount overnight.

As public servants, we have to do the math to see how many of the 250,000 registered people will do the pre-retrofit review and complete the renovations by March 31, and submit their claims afterwards.

It is very difficult, because a number of parameters have to be taken into account. We cannot afford to run over the proposed budget. As officials, we also couldn’t afford to tell the Minister to continue a program beyond a deadline when we could not be sure whether we would have the necessary funding, given the uncertainty of the parameters. So we have made a balanced decision by recommending that we stop at 250,000 registrations.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Anne-Marie Day Charlesbourg—Haute-Saint-Charles, QC

Mr. Lapointe is going to continue.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

We have time for a very short question.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

In terms of the Minister's remarks that some Canadian organizations are purely radical, does that carry through to the department? Do you have a list of organizations whose submissions you are supposed to burn as soon as you receive them? Is that list going around somewhere? If there is a black list, who is on it?

10:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources

Serge Dupont

Mr. Chair, both the short answer and the long answer are “no”.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

So the reference to Canadian organizations being radical simply reflects the minister’s position, not the department’s policy.

10:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Natural Resources

Serge Dupont

The department has no such policy. The department provides opinions and recommendations. We don’t have a black list or anything like that. We receive input from various groups and we treat them in the same way.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

François Lapointe Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Thank you.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Leon Benoit

I would like to thank Mrs. Day and Mr. Lapointe.

Mr. McGuinty, go ahead, please.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

David McGuinty Ottawa South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Dupont, for a Canadian watching, who gets on the Internet or picks up the phone and calls 1-800-O-CANADA, if she goes to the website for NRCAN, does the ecoEnergy program to assist homeowners still exist?