Madam Speaker, on this Valentine's Day, I would like to celebrate a little event. My precious daughter, Sarah, who already has one son with my son-in-law, Simon, is pregnant. I just found out it is a girl, and I am so happy. Congratulations to them. They are an amazing couple.
Also, on this Valentine's Day, as I am destined not to spend my evening in better company, I will declare my love for forests, a priceless resource for all Quebeckers and Canadians to enjoy and benefit from.
The title of Bill S‑222 is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. This bill is about the use of wood, and it is sponsored by former senator Diane F. Griffin of PEI. It went through first reading in the Senate on November 24, 2021, and is now at second reading in the House. It amends section 7 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by adding the following after subsection 1:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance and repair of public works, federal real property and federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any potential reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing — including a material, product or sustainable resource — that achieves such benefits.
In short, Bill S-222 encourages the federal government to support the forestry industry in reducing its carbon footprint. As a tireless advocate for the Quebec forestry industry, the Bloc Québécois will obviously be voting in favour of this bill.
In fact, the Bloc Québécois has proposed similar legislative measures in the past, although ours may have had more teeth. That was the case in 2010 with Bill C-429, sponsored by the former member for Manicouagan, Gérard Asselin. It was also the case in 2014 with Bill C-574, which was introduced by the member for Jonquière—Alma, Claude Patry. Unfortunately, each time, the Conservatives and the NDP voted down these bills.
If Quebec were a country—it is a nation, but a country in the making—our 900,000 square kilometres of forest would rank us sixth in the world in terms of total forested area. Economically, Quebec's forests represent 57,000 jobs, $12 billion in exports and a contribution of $6 billion per year to Quebec's GDP. Underestimating this wealth would obviously be a huge mistake.
With the decline of pulp and paper, modernizing the wood industry is obviously important and it is becoming increasingly so. The federal government has a huge opportunity right now to contribute to the revitalization of secondary and tertiary processing sectors in so-called weakened communities.
By secondary and tertiary processing, I am referring in particular to woodworking products and mass timber construction. Some of the world's leaders in the design and manufacture of wood buildings are located in Quebec. Chantiers Chibougamau and its Nordic Structures division come to mind. Although these businesses still do work in Quebec and Canada, their order books are largely filled by U.S. customers.
The Canadian government must stop dragging its feet. It needs to start encouraging the wood building industry in residential construction here.
On another note, I would remind the House that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, has recommended increasing the use of wood in non-residential construction in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help fight climate change.
Wood products can easily replace synthetic materials from the petrochemical industry that have a huge carbon footprint. Transforming wood is a more energy-efficient process that lowers emissions by one tonne of carbon dioxide per cubic metre of wood.
Once processed, wood remains a living material. On average, every single cubic metre of wood captures an additional tonne of carbon dioxide. For example, a building constructed using 80 cubic metres of wood can store 80 tonnes of carbon dioxide during its lifetime, which is equivalent to the emissions released by driving a car for a decade. Imagine the savings for an entire building stock.
The forestry sector is probably the industry that is best positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture carbon already in the atmosphere. Meanwhile, between 2017 and 2020, Canada's oil and gas sector received $23 billion in taxpayer subsidies. For the same period, Canada's forestry sector received only $952 million. I would also like to point out that, at their last convention, the Liberals rejected a resolution calling for an end to public funding for fossil fuels. That is pretty weak.
Luckily, the Bloc Québécois will continue to fight for a dynamic forestry sector that focuses on preserving biodiversity, encourages innovation and diversification, and generates wealth.
In this regard, I would like to congratulate my friends and colleagues from Jonquière and Lac-Saint-Jean for their exemplary work on this file. Since 2019, they have undertaken numerous initiatives to bring together all the stakeholders and propose meaningful solutions.
In 2021, the Bloc Québécois developed a four-part road map to maximize forests' potential. First, the federal government could “implement a public procurement policy that would encourage the use of wood products, including establishing the carbon footprint as a criterion for awarding contracts”.
Second, the Bloc Québécois recommends “increasing budgets for basic research and to develop a value chain for the secondary and tertiary transformation of forest resources”.
Third, we suggest protecting exports of lumber from Quebec to the United States, our principal trading partner.
Fourth, we want to find ways to boost productivity tied to annual growth.
That is why my colleagues and I will vote in favour of Bill S‑222.
On this day, February 14, my wish is for the government to show the forestry sector a little love, to help keep jobs in our regions and to fight climate change. It has to stop ignoring that and instead be part of the solution.
Happy St. Valentine's day to everyone.