An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood)

This bill was last introduced in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session, which ended in March 2011.

This bill was previously introduced in the 40th Parliament, 2nd Session.


Gérard Asselin  Bloc

Introduced as a private member’s bill. (These don’t often become law.)


Second reading (House), as of Nov. 2, 2009
(This bill did not become law.)


This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require the Minister, before soliciting bids, to give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood while taking into account the cost and greenhouse gas emissions.


All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, an excellent resource from the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.


Dec. 15, 2010 Failed That Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be concurred in at report stage.
April 21, 2010 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations and Estimates.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

September 26th, 2023 / 6:20 p.m.
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Caroline Desbiens Bloc Beauport—Côte-de-Beaupré—Île d’Orléans—Charlevoix, QC

Madam Speaker, the Bloc Québécois is obviously in favour of Bill S‑222. In fact, I feel like saying “finally”, even though the bill may not go far enough.

The Bloc Québécois has long been committed to promoting the forestry sector and the ecological value of forestry products. We have long proposed that the federal government use its procurement policy to support the forestry sector. Since memories tend to fade, I will take the liberty of sharing the history of our commitment to this issue.

In March 2010, during the 3rd session of the 40th Parliament, elected representatives in the House debated a bill proposed by the Bloc Québécois, Bill C‑429, which was sponsored by Manicouagan MP Gérard Asselin. The text of this bill was very similar to that of Bill S‑222, which is the subject of the current debate. At that time, the Bloc Québécois was already proposing to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to encourage construction projects involving greater use of wood products.

Unfortunately, neither the then-Conservative government nor the NDP official opposition supported the Bloc's solution, which was something the industry had asked for. In February of 2014, during the 2nd session of the 41st Parliament, we proposed the same solution again with Bill C‑574 from the member for Jonquière—Alma, Claude Patry. Again, the Conservatives voted against our bill, along with a good number of New Democrats.

In September 2020, the Bloc Québécois presented its green recovery plan focused on Quebec's regions, the result of extensive consultations held across the province. It offered concrete solutions to fight against COVID‑19 and to get the economy going again, including through investments in sustainable forests.

In October 2020, thanks to the initiative of my colleague from Jonquière, the natural resources critic for the Bloc Québécois, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Natural Resources undertook a study on the forestry sector. The committee recommended that the government renew its support for the sector and develop a value chain for that industry by creating new market opportunities. It also recommended that the government create a public procurement policy to encourage buying and using low-carbon products, including wood products, by including carbon footprint as one of the criteria for the awarding of contracts.

That is a good idea. It seems timely to me because with climate change and the natural disasters that are on the rise and intensifying, I cannot believe that anyone still doubts the need to act with rigour and vigour. Incidentally, in parallel to Bill S‑222, which specifically focuses on the use of wood in construction, we should also consider the government's broader green procurement policy.

Let us come back to the genesis of this. In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois organized in Trois‑Rivières a forum on forests and climate change.

This event allowed partners from the college and university research community, people from industry, community and politics to discuss a key issue to Quebec's socio-economic development, the forest bioeconomy.

During the 2021 campaign, the Bloc Québécois proposed a plan to maximize the potential of Quebec's forests whose goal was local transformation, technological innovations development and increased productivity in a labour shortage context. The Bloc Québécois's plan also sought to reduce Quebec's vulnerability to trade agreements. We have certainly had a taste of that. It also seeks to alleviate pressure on primary resources by increasing job diversity, including through transformation. It also focuses on developing exportable green technologies. That is the constructive and positive work of the Bloc Québécois.

We have been asking for years for Quebec's forestry sector to get its rightful share of federal investments. People are not fooled. Everybody knows that, historically, the federal government has prioritized the auto sector in Ontario and the oil and gas industry in western Canada over Quebec's wood. Federal support should, among other things, be subject to a public procurement policy that encourages the use of wood products. The use of wood products in the construction sector is on the rise, and its contribution to the fight against climate change is well established and recognized. To choose wood as a building material is to choose a product that is locally sourced, sustainable and renewable. A life-cycle analysis of wood shows that it has a very good environmental performance.

Continuing its historic commitment, the Bloc Québécois has made a concrete contribution in recent years by presenting the federal government with detailed proposed actions that would support the forestry sector.

The Bloc Québécois idea is simple: The more a company pollutes, the less public money it receives and, the less a company pollutes, the more government support it receives. The Bloc Québécois is out there in the trenches, so it is always up to date on the major issues and the direction Quebec industry wants to move in. Everyone welcomes this option with open arms.

Incidentally, in its green recovery plan, the Bloc Québécois proposed establishing the carbon footprint variable as a criterion for awarding contracts and purchasing in government procurement policies. In short, with figures to back it up, Quebec is counting on the forestry sector to support regional economies and contribute to the fight against climate change. For years, the Bloc Québécois has been demanding that the federal government give Quebeckers their fair share of public assistance.

It is important to note that Quebec is definitely not lagging behind other provinces in that regard. On the contrary, it is a pioneer of best practices in the use of wood products. Quebec's policy of using wood as a building material is built upon five forward-looking principles: promoting Quebec's economic development, contributing to the fight against climate change, ensuring the safety and well-being of occupants, focusing on learning, and promoting the multiple uses of wood.

Unfortunately, the interests of the Canadian oil state all too often take precedence over those of the Quebec forest state. Here are a few numbers. From 2017 to 2020, tens of billions of dollars were given to the country's most polluting sector. Over the same period, the entire forestry sector in Canada received only $952 million, nearly 75% of which are repayable contributions. Quebec's share, assuming that it gets 22.5% of that amount, is a paltry $71 million per year. Let me remind the House that forestry is the economic sector that is best positioned to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and capture carbon already in the atmosphere. It also has a lot of potential in terms of jobs, economic growth and innovation.

It is high time we pull our heads out of the sand and start to urgently address the state of the planet. This partisan foot-dragging on both sides of the House has, over the years, contributed to disadvantaging Quebec's forestry industry, as well as the industry's direct and indirect economic players. Waiting in vain for Canada to understand what works in Quebec is costly, both in terms of the economy and the environment. Clearly, the energy transition, forestry, fisheries, aerospace, agriculture, tourism and culture are all working, but we are not moving as fast as we should. Canada is not keeping up. Canada is a pro-oil state and that is becoming less and less acceptable to Quebeckers. It will be wonderful to regain our self-determination so we can choose the cutting-edge supports for and direction of Quebec's industries to ensure that they are sustainably developed.

We must immediately make every effort to tackle climate change since we are already behind. For some, this will start with acknowledging it. Others, who are more forward looking and have already started, need our support. It is our duty to act and support our forestry industries for our children and our future.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 29th, 2023 / 11:05 a.m.
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Richard Cannings NDP South Okanagan—West Kootenay, BC

moved that the bill be read the third time and passed.

Mr. Speaker, it is an honour, once again, to rise to speak to this small but mighty bill, Bill S-222. It would require the minister of public works and government services to consider the environmental benefits of building materials when building federal infrastructure.

This bill has come a long way to get to this point. Today, we begin third reading with a real chance of seeing this bill become law in the coming days. I am very encouraged by the unanimous support that Bill S-222 has received here in this House at second reading and in committee, where it was passed and returned here without amendment.

I would like to thank retired senator Diane Griffin for sponsoring this bill in the other place in this Parliament. It began its life as my private member's bill, Bill C-354, in the 42nd Parliament. It passed through the House in that Parliament but died an unfortunate and unnecessary death in the Senate. It was an innocent bystander of some other political manoeuvring. I will mention as well that an earlier version of this bill, one more specifically targeted at wood alone, was tabled by Gérard Asselin, a member of the Bloc Québécois, in 2010 as Bill C-429.

It has been a long and tortuous path to get to this place here today. I am really looking forward to seeing this bill become law at last.

One thing I have not mentioned in my previous speeches on this bill is the role that Natural Resources Canada officials played in helping move this bill forward in the 42nd Parliament. I want to mention in particular the efforts by Sandra Schwartz, who helped amend the bill and focus it on the environmental benefits of building materials.

I would like to concentrate my comments today on the testimony we heard at committee on Bill S-222.

One of the witnesses in the hearings was from the Quebec Forest Industry Council. They pointed out three ways that forest products can help decarbonize construction. The most obvious of these is the fact that long-lasting wood products store carbon that was taken out of the atmosphere as the trees were growing.

The second is that the new trees that replace the trees that were harvested continue to store carbon throughout their lives. This is a more complicated calculation that must take into account the full life-cycle analysis of harvest and production. The QFIC has asked that such life-cycle analyses be developed by the federal government. It is my understanding that those analyses are being developed. They have been developed for other building products but are being developed for wood products.

The third is the fact that forest products can help decarbonize construction because there is such a huge potential for growth in the use of these products. Only 5% of large buildings use wood as a primary component, so increasing that percentage would have an increasing beneficial effect.

Both the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs testified as well before committee. Firefighters are naturally concerned about the safety aspects of building construction in Canada, as they are the ones who literally put their lives on the line to fight fires within these buildings.

As building codes change to include new advances in mass timber construction, firefighters ask that their safety be an added objective in those new codes. I can add here the assurance from other committee testimony that mass timber construction has been shown to be as safe as or safer than standard concrete and steel structures after testing by the National Research Council and other agencies. Government officials pointed out that the procedures asked for by the bill are generally in place in government policy or are in the process of implementation, including the life-cycle analysis of environmental impacts of various building materials.

There is a real sense of urgency in the forest industry for any policy changes that would help that sector produce more jobs and create more wealth within our rural communities, all in the face of a reduced harvest. This bill would do that. By increasing the government procurement of mass timber products, it would increase the domestic markets for our lumber and create new jobs for turning that lumber into long-lasting mass timber beams and panels. We lead the North American mass timber industry, but it is still a small sector and needs careful attention or we will lose that lead very quickly.

Structurelam, the pioneer company in mass timber in North America, based in my hometown of Penticton, has recently been forced to restructure and sell its assets because of an unfortunate contract disagreement with Walmart. Hopefully, it will remain in Canada and regain its strength as the leading proponent of engineered wood on the continent. However, its story is a reminder that the sector is in a vulnerable position, still open to growing pains. A bill promoting government procurement could provide significant benefits at a critical juncture in the growth of the industry.

I spent much of last week in Washington, D.C., talking to American legislators about international trade between Canada and the United States. One of the big issues there obviously is the softwood lumber disagreement. The wonderful thing about mass timber is that not only is it beautiful and safe and not only does it create new jobs, but it can be exported to the United States without facing the illegal tariffs we have under softwood lumber. This bill would help create domestic markets so our mills that create two-by-fours and two-by-sixes will have more domestic markets, allowing them to grow and keep going in the face of this dispute, which has really harmed mills across the country.

I have to remind everyone that, while I and others have concentrated on wood products in this debate, the bill is open to any materials that provide environmental benefits. I met repeatedly with the cement industry and heard of its efforts to decarbonize the concrete that makes up so much of our infrastructure today. The cement industry believes it can be competitive with forest products in many cases in these full life-cycle analyses on environmental benefits. I commend those efforts and would simply say that this is what I hope to accomplish with this bill.

Buildings contribute up to 40% of our greenhouse gas emissions, and we must take all steps to reduce those emissions. Whether those reductions are achieved through the use of mass timber, new decarbonized concrete products or other sustainable products is not important. What is important is that we act quickly to change the way we construct buildings as part of our existential efforts to fight climate change.

Bill S-222 would be a step in that direction. I hope that today we will see continued support so that this bill can become law at last and create beautiful, safe and environmentally friendly buildings across this country, and support industry and mills across this country.

After unanimous support at second reading and at committee, we have the opportunity today to end debate and see this bill become law within a day or two. I hope that all other parties will allow debate to collapse so we can get to a vote quickly. I do not know why any party would want to prolong this process.

I thank everyone here for their support of Bill S-222 and look forward to a short and positive debate.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

February 14th, 2023 / 5:35 p.m.
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Luc Desilets Bloc Rivière-des-Mille-Îles, QC

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.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 28th, 2022 / 11:35 a.m.
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Mario Simard Bloc Jonquière, QC

Madam Speaker, I am pleased to speak about Bill S­222.

If we want to trace the origins of the discussions that led to an act that would benefit forest products, we need to go back to the proposals of the Bloc Québécois. As early as March 2010, Bill C‑429, which dealt with something very similar and was sponsored by the member for Manicouagan at the time, was being studied. The same thing happened a few years later, in 2014. The member for my former riding, Jonquière-Alma, which is now called Jonquière, had also tabled a similar bill. What we realized then was that the House's interest in supporting the forestry sector was not very high.

I would remind the House that, at the time, in 2010, the NDP voted in favour of the bill. However, in 2014, they changed their stance a bit. Half of their caucus was against the bill because it might be detrimental to the steel beam industry. I say that because I feel that there has never been the appropriate balance of power to bring the interests of the forestry industry to the House. It is no coincidence that the province where the forestry industry is largest is Quebec. Unfortunately, here, the Conservatives, among others, have never voted in favour of such measures.

Bill S‑222 certainly has potential, but there is no denying that it will need to be amended if it is referred to committee. The major difference in Bill S‑222 is that it is devoid of any means of enforcement. The bill feels like wishful thinking: It simply hopes that more wood will be used. However, if we are to achieve this, there must be some means of enforcement. This is the case with the Quebec law.

In Quebec, the wood charter assumes that, for all buildings under six storeys, a wood solution must be considered. It is mandatory. Perhaps it is something that can be corrected in the bill. We may be able to do that work in committee, but it would be essential. The Bloc Québécois will support this bill, but I believe that it should go a little further and make consideration of wood for federal government infrastructure mandatory.

I will take this opportunity to address another aspect. As I said at the beginning of my speech, I find that the forestry sector tends to be overlooked when it comes to federal government support. I would like to demonstrate that. As I have repeated around 3,000 times in the House, Canada has an economy that is based on two major industries: the oil and gas sector and the automobile sector. Support for the forestry sector has consistently been anemic.

I will share some figures from a study that I commissioned along with every other member of the Bloc Québécois. The Bloc Québécois is a caucus that is focused on the issue of softwood lumber. I will share the figures from the nine key federal programs that help the forestry sector.

From 2017 to 2020, we can say that roughly $317 million was redirected to the forestry sector. Keep in mind that 75% of the money that was distributed throughout Canada was in the form of guaranteed loans and 25% of that money was in the form of real subsidies. Earlier, the comparison was made with the oil and gas sector, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.

Quebec represents 22.5% of the federation, but the volume of Quebec's forestry sector represents a bit more than 30% of the sector Canada-wide. Canada pays Quebec $71 million a year. If we apply that same calculation, that means that 75% of that amount is in the form of loans. Quebec is therefore paid $53.5 million a year in the form of loans and $17 billion is paid in the form of subsidies. My region of Quebec, Saguenay‑Lac‑Saint‑Jean, provides more to the federal government than the entirety of the subsidies that are offered to Quebec's forestry sector. The $71 million paid by the federal government to the forestry industry does not even represent 0.3% of the sector's $20 billion in annual sales.

I checked and found that the federal government provides the least amount of support to these sectors. I see the disparity when I examine the fossil fuel sector. I say that because, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources is doing a comparative study of all the different natural resources sectors.

If I look at the fossil fuel sector, the cost of the Trans Mountain pipeline alone is $21 billion. Then, there are the $18 billion a year over 2020-22. Canada Economic Development, or CED, will be providing $5.4 billion, which will be redirected only to the oil and gas sector. That does not include $2.5 billion in the last budget for carbon capture strategies. As I am not meanspirited, I am not going to talk about everything to do with the cleanup of orphan wells and lines of credit that we have seen since 2019. I just want to say that it is appalling.

There really is a double standard. I do not see why this legislation would not pass. It would not cost the federal government very much to consider promoting the use of lumber in its contracts. It is simply a regulatory measure that does not necessarily involve funding.

We know that the federal government is allergic to supporting the forestry industry. If a small sawmill asks for help from CED, it will not get it. Instead, the sawmill will be immediately referred to Global Affairs Canada. No small sawmill in Quebec or Canada can get support from the economic arm of the federal government alone for fear of violating American softwood lumber laws. That is a big problem. It means that companies that do not even do business with the United States are not entitled to support from CED.

I want to quickly come back to what the Bloc Québécois has been doing to support the forestry industry. In September 2020, we presented a green recovery plan to get out of the COVID‑19 pandemic. One of the main focuses of this recovery plan is the development of natural resources, including the forestry sector.

In October 2020, on my initiative, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources was studying the renewal of the forestry sector. There were some very interesting proposals, one being that the federal government start using the concept of carbon footprint in its tenders.

Perhaps this could be worked into Bill S‑222. It goes much further than just using wood in construction. If we go with the idea of a carbon footprint, then all derivatives from the bioeconomy—that is, products derived from the forest biomass—would qualify. Think of packaging products, for one. We can replace single-use plastics right now. It would provide a much broader scope for supporting the forestry sector, and we could reduce our carbon footprint.

Unfortunately, even though these recommendations were made in a committee study, the government never acted on them. In fact, last week we had people from the forestry sector come before us. They came to tell us that the time for committee studies has passed, and we must now take action. We are still waiting for that action.

In April 2021, the Bloc Québécois hosted a forum on forests and climate change. Participants included experts from academia and the forestry sector, producers and people involved in research and development. At the end of the forum, participants reached a unanimous conclusion. From an economic perspective, our best weapon in the battle against climate change is the forestry sector. Forests are carbon sinks. The more carbon we sequester by building with wood, the better our GHG performance.

I recently toured Chantiers Chibougamau with my party leader. I would actually encourage all members to go see what is happening at Chantiers Chibougamau. They are superstars. They use pulpwood, the little bits from treetops, to make glued-laminated I-joists of astounding size.

I see my time is up. I will be happy to vote in favour of this bill, but it needs improvement. I hope that, going forward, the government will pay closer attention when it comes to the forestry sector.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

May 9th, 2018 / 6 p.m.
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Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

Madam Speaker,

[Member spoke in Cree]


I am very proud to be here to support this bill, Bill C-354, which is sponsored by the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay. It is an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and the use of wood. This bill would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to require that, in the awarding of certain contracts, preference be given to projects that promote the use of wood.

The purpose of the bill is to give preference to projects to promote the use of wood when awarding contracts for federal construction, maintenance, or repair projects, while taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. The amendments to the bill align with the government's stated principles for procurement process and ensure compliance with Canada's free trade agreement. The amendments ask that the minister consider the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions that may allow the use of wood or any other suitable material, product, or resource to achieve this benefit.

Two similar iterations of this bill have been previously defeated in the House. Bill C-429, introduced by Bloc Québécois in 2010, was defeated at report stage on December 15, 2010, and Bill C-574, introduced by Bloc Québécois MP Claude Patry in 2014, was defeated at second reading on December 3, 2014.

I am proud that our government has the following frameworks, policies, and programs in place that will promote sustainable construction, including significant investments to strategically support the forestry sector.

One of those is the forest bioeconomy framework. In September 2017, the Canadian Council of Forest Ministers launched the framework to make Canada a global leader in the use of forest biomass for advanced bioproducts and innovative solutions. The framework focuses on creating green jobs, enhancing supply and demand, and supporting innovation in the forestry sector.

We have also put forward the green construction through wood, GCWood, program. In September 2017, the government announced the GCWood program to encourage greater use of wood in construction projects in Canada. We want to catalyze a broader awareness of, and domestic capacity for, innovative tall wood buildings, timber bridges, and low-rise commercial wood buildings. Building with wood offers many benefits, including GHG emission reductions and opportunities for greater economic growth.

Another program that our government has put forward is the assistance package for the forest industry. In June 2017, the government announced its continued support for the softwood lumber industry in the form of an $867-million assistance package for the forestry industry, workers, and communities impacted by recent tariffs imposed unfairly by the United States.

We also put forward the pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change. This framework, adopted in 2016, is a comprehensive plan to reduce emissions across all sectors of the economy, accelerate clean economic growth, and build resilience to the impacts of climate change, which I know all of us here in the House believe in.

The framework's actions, supported by announcements in budget 2017, would enable Canada to meet or even exceed its target to reduce emissions by 30% below 2005 levels by 2030. This is important for our children, especially my children. Under the framework, our government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from federal government buildings and fleets by 40% below 2005 levels by 2030.

These actions include collaboration among federal, provincial, and territorial governments to encourage the increased use of wood products in construction, including through updated building codes. Natural Resources Canada received $39.8 million over four years through budget 2017 to support projects and activities that increase the use of wood as a greener substitute material in infrastructure projects, to promote the use of wood in construction, and to create new markets for sustainable Canadian products.

We have also been leaders on this side of the House, compared to a former government, to put in place tools to assess environmental impacts. We have committed to assessing the environmental impacts of construction projects. Public Services and Procurement Canada is committed to the use of industry-recognized assessment tools for high environmental performance. These tools would help the department make informed decisions to estimate the environmental impact of construction materials and their use in building projects.

Any amendment made to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act must be made in accordance with Canada's free trade agreements and abide by the government's procurement principles of fairness, openness, transparency, competition, and integrity.

We have heard there are people who are afraid this may cost jobs. While I agree that sometimes we may fear the future when change happens, what I saw when I used to live in Quebec City was beautiful projects that actually increased the number of jobs in the forestry industry. For instance, in Neufchâtel, a neighbourhood where I lived in Quebec City when I was serving in the Canadian Armed Forces, a soccer complex was built for young people and adults. This complex was entirely built of wood, a gigantic structure with gigantic beams, which were very thick and very solid. Some said that we should not build with wood, but incredibly enough, the mayor of Quebec City, Régis Labeaume, showed leadership. Quebec City even built its new coliseum, or what some have sometimes called the “ice cube”, using an awful lot of wood.

This is a Canadian product and it is something we have a lot of here in Canada. It allows us to create more jobs, because construction projects can perhaps be cheaper and so more people can build homes or large-scale structures that will be as structurally sound as any we might find made of steel or concrete.

I had the opportunity of attending the committee for government public works and listening to testimony surrounding this bill. I was surprised to hear support coming not only from people in the forestry industry but also in the engineering trades. People said that we can use this material and demonstrate in Canada that we can build with our wood and then perhaps create markets overseas to show the building codes are just as strong.

We can make sure we build jobs here in our country. It is important to build jobs in many of the rural areas where the forestry products, the primary resources, are found, because there are also indigenous people who would like to work. If we can use more of these resources in a sustainable manner, use things that are renewable, it will be better for Mother Nature, the earth, and all of us and our children in the long term.

I am very proud to be here to offer my support to the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for his bill and his leadership on this issue. I am very proud of the work that goes on in Winnipeg and Manitoba in support of the forestry industry. I know all my colleagues from Manitoba are also very supportive of the forestry industry.

Tapwe akwa khitwam hi hi.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

November 27th, 2017 / 11:25 a.m.
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Tom Kmiec Conservative Calgary Shepard, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in the House to continue the debate on this private member's bill.

I first want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing this bill. In my view, discussions of private members' bills, which advance the ideas and individual interests of MPs and the concerns of their constituents, constitute the most important hours of debate in the House. I do not always agree with all the bills introduced in the House; sometimes I must oppose them, and other times I support them. However, It is always good to see what MPs are interested in when they introduce bills, and also the discussions and ideas that they bring to the House to be debated.

I would like to mention that I worked for a sustainable development department. I was in financial administration, and a special division of this department was responsible for Alberta's forests. I worked very closely with this special division.

After that I was a political advisor to the sustainable development minister, who was responsible for forestry. One of our key roles was to oversee the renegotiation of forestry management agreements with individual companies, something I am very interested in. I also worked with forestry companies in Alberta during those renegotiations.

This is not the first time Canada's Parliament debates a bill like Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood). One hon. member told me that this might be the fourth time; this has been discussed in previous Parliaments. Bills C-429 and C-574 also addressed the topic.

The bill states:

(1.1) In awarding contracts for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall give preference to projects that promote the use of wood, taking into account the associated costs and reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

Again, I appreciate the intent of this bill, which seeks to strengthen Canada's forestry sector. We can all agree that any effort to strengthen any economic sector in Canada is commendable.

I will be sharing my thoughts on the member's bill. His intention is understandable. However, we must think of the repercussions this bill will have not only on the forestry industry, including sawmills, for example, but also on other industries, like cement manufacturing, public and private construction, and construction in general.

In February 2014, the former member for Jonquière—Alma introduced Bill C-574, which was also supported by some members of his party. The Conservative Party opposed the bill at the time.

As we know, the amendment being made to the act will result in changes to the way the government approaches procurement and how it renovates its buildings. This could be interesting. However, this bill, which will affect the maintenance and repair of federal real property, will cause problems in the public procurement process that will be difficult to solve. I read the debates that have occurred in other Parliaments many times, because I wanted to inject some new ideas. I did not want to merely repeat the same thing other members have already said, because I hope to contribute a more philosophical perspective to this debate. I did not want to just repeat the opportunities this will open for the forestry industry and the repercussions it will have on workers in that sector.

I know that a life-cycle cost analysis produced by the United States Department of Defense some years ago demonstrated that wooden structures cost 40% less per square foot than steel or masonry structures. The cost of construction was 37% less for wood than for other materials.

Operating costs are also less for wood. I always say that a free-trade-based market should be able to benefit from theses sorts of efficiencies and the lower operating costs. Architects and others who decide what type of building will be built and with what materials look at those costs and that type of report.

It is the marketplace that will decide. I think that implementing this sort of legislative measure would require a major regulatory review and update and would put financial pressure on entrepreneurs and some provinces to conduct policy reviews and make changes. What is more, any potential legal challenges from construction sectors other than the wood sector could prove to be long and costly for the government. I believe that the best people to make these types of decisions regarding buildings are construction professionals, architects. They are in the best position to make this sort of decision. We should not rely on a law that would favour one material over another. That would take away the architects' and construction companies' power to choose. They can choose to go with wood if they want to and if they can do so in a way that will cost the government less, or they can do renovations that will reduce the government's operating costs in the future.

I believe that the code of practice and professional standards for architects and builders would be the best place to promote the benefits of wood construction. This building is a very good example. It is built of stone but much of the interior is made of wood. This building has stood for a very long time. We know that building with wood has advantages, and it is also beautiful, as we can see around us. The House was a success for those who built it.

This legislation would also have a major impact on the regulatory regime, as I mentioned. It would probably result in unexpected changes to the regulations of other departments and would establish a precedent that could lead to challenges in other sectors. As I mentioned, the steel and concrete sectors are two examples that come to mind. The National Building Code, which is the basis for provincial building codes, would definitely be affected by this legislation.

When I read the bill, I asked myself what the member's objective was and what effect he hoped it would have on those who bid on projects for the construction of government buildings. If we give preference to wood for the construction and renovation of federal buildings, the bill will indirectly promote one sector over another. All these sectors are vital to Canada's economy. We do not take away from one sector or another. Every sector is vital to Canada's economy to ensure growth and good jobs.

This would favour the economies of certain regions over others, in direct contravention of the mission of Public Works and Government Services Canada, which is to apply an open, fair, and transparent procurement process in order to obtain the best possible value for the government. This for me is the problem with the bill. It could result in job losses in the concrete and steel industries, which would be an economic substitution. There may not necessarily be new growth, but other sectors could lose contracts and be unable to continue working in the construction sector, as concrete, stone, or steel is discarded in favour of wood. I think this is a problem. It does not necessarily lead to new economic growth or to new jobs, but simply replaces one sector's jobs with another's.

In closing, I would like to talk about Frédéric Bastiat, a 19th-century French economist, member of the French National Assembly, and well-known Liberal polemicist who wrote a book called Economic Sophisms. Chapter 7 of his book is known as the Candle Makers' Petition. He wrote this fictitious petition as a way to prove an economic point. The premise is that candle makers are petitioning the government to force everyone to board up all windows and live in the dark so that they will have to buy candles. By depriving people of sunlight, they hope to create economic growth. The petition says that it is not fair for people to have access to sunlight for free and that they should be forced to buy the candle makers' products. This is a bit of an extreme example of sophism.

In simpler terms, this is about the economic substitution effect and consumer choice. In short, new jobs and potential economic growth are not necessarily a source of economic activity. At the end of the day, who will make the decisions? Will it be the architects, the builders, or the MPs in this House? We should allow the architects and the builders to make the best choices they can rather than legislating to impose one choice or another.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 2:10 p.m.
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Etobicoke—Lakeshore Ontario


Bernard Trottier ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise on behalf of the government to speak to Bill C-574, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

Let me begin by saying that I appreciate the intent of the bill, which is to strengthen the forestry sector. No one would dispute that seeking to strengthen various economic sectors of our country is a laudable goal. That is precisely why our government is so focused on jobs, economic growth, and prosperity for all sectors and all regions of our country.

That said, however, members who were present for the debate in 2010 on Bill C-429, which was identical to this legislation and which was defeated, will know that there are several reasons that this bill is fundamentally flawed. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that, even if passed, this legislation would strengthen the Canadian forestry sector it claims to help.

While I could elaborate at length on the problems with this proposed legislation, I will limit my remarks to the key reasons that our government cannot support the bill.

First, the proposed bill contravenes Canada's legal obligation under the procurement provisions within our country's international and domestic trade agreements.

These agreements prohibit discrimination and unnecessary barriers to trade. Any legislation that were to amend the contract tendering requirements to encourage the use of forestry products or to give preference to a supplier who makes it a policy to use them would contravene Canada's trade obligations under NAFTA, the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement and our free trade agreements with Chile and Peru.

This bill does not just contravene international trade agreements. In fact, under the Agreement on Internal Trade, government tender documents cannot require the use of specific materials unless they are needed for technical or operational reasons.

The Agreement on Internal Trade prohibits the introduction of a bias in the form of technological specifications in favour of, or against, particular goods or services, including those goods and services included in construction contracts.

Bill C-574 would also impair the capacity of the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to fulfill her mandate as stipulated in her own legislation, the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act.

By giving preference to the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings, the bill indirectly promotes one sector over other, also essential, sectors of the Canadian economy. This would, by extension, favour the economies of some regions over others, in direct conflict with the mandate of Public Works and Government Services Canada, which has procurement processes in place to ensure openness, fairness, and transparency in order to obtain best value for the crown.

Let me also note that most PWGSC projects are large office buildings of more than four storeys, and the current national building code does not easily permit the use of combustible materials for the construction of buildings higher than four storeys.

That said, PWGSC already uses a large quantity of wood when fulfilling its responsibility to maintain buildings owned by the federal government and provide office space for public servants. The department spends approximately $160 million a year on office space and furnishings, and approximately 15% of that amount is put towards wood products.

While the Department of Public Works remains an important consumer of wood, our government also recognizes the importance of the forestry industry. It provides, and continues to provide, significant support to the forestry sector.

Given its long-standing importance to our country and to many communities, particularly smaller ones, the forestry sector has received a great deal of government attention in recent years.

Since 2006, our government has supported the forestry sector to the level of $1.8 billion, and it continues to invest in innovative new products, maintaining existing markets and pursuing new markets for Canadian forest products.

To cite some examples, in 2010 the investments in forestry industry transformation program, or IFIT, was created to enable Canadian forest companies to lead the world in developing innovative technologies that improve efficiency, reduce environmental impacts, and create non-traditional, high-value products from Canada's world-class forest resources, and there have been some tremendous successes.

IFIT funding, for example, to the Tolko Industries Ltd. mill in Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan, helped the company develop innovative technology that allowed it to become the first in North America to produce different types of oriented strand board on a single production line.

Under Canada's economic action plan 2014, IFIT was renewed for four more years to the tune of $90.4 million so that it can help support more breakthroughs like this one across the country.

The 2012 and 2013 economic action plans provided the forest innovation program with $197 million over four years. That program helps forestry companies innovate and adopt new technology. For example, the tall wood demonstration project initiative helped increase the export potential for forestry companies in both traditional markets and emerging onces, including China, India and the Middle East.

On the trade side, in 2012, the government announced the extension of the softwood lumber agreement between Canada and the United States through to the end of October 2015. That guaranteed that Canada's softwood lumber producers would have stable access to and fair market value in U.S. markets. That agreement came into effect in October 2006 and meant that more than $5 billion in U.S. tariffs went back into the pockets of Canadian producers.

It is also important to consider the possible unforeseen consequences if the bill were to pass. Greater demand for wood could lead to greater imports of wood products and that would certainly be of no help to the Canadian forest sector.

As I said earlier, the bill poses many legal and procurement issues that make it impossible for our government to support. In fact, in 2010 when the previous version of the bill was being debated, it is interesting to note that both opposition parties could not agree on a unified position when it came to the bill. The votes were split along regional and provincial lines and even many opposition members could see that the bill was fundamentally flawed and did not support it.

Of note, let me quote the current NDP critic for Public Works, the member for Winnipeg North, who during consideration of the previous identical version of the bill at committee said:

We really shouldn't be seized of the issue of what kind of flooring we're going to put into the next public building that we build. It's almost insulting, frankly, for us to be using our time on this. I mean, are we going to have a private members' bill to dictate what kind of curtains we put in the next building we build? I'm starting to get frustrated with this.

While most of the NDP caucus voted against the bill, the current leader of the NDP, the member for Outremont, supported it.

Interestingly enough, the Liberal Party was also deeply divided on this legislation, with the current Liberal Finance and National Revenue critic, the member for Kings—Hants, voting against the bill and the current Liberal leader, the member for Papineau, supporting it.

It will be interesting to see if the current NDP and Liberal leaders will continue to support this flawed legislation, which clearly seeks to unfairly favour one sector over the others and, by extension, seeks to unfairly favour one province and region at the expense of others.

I would like to reiterate that the legislation and its fundamental flaws will not allow our government to support the bill. Today we are seeing Canada's forest sector evolve into a modern, innovative industry with its sights set on new markets, new ways of using wood and new ways to maximize value from forest fibre. Our government is happy and proud to continue playing an important role in supporting these exciting new developments and we do just that because we recognize how important it is to our economy and to our country.

Use of Wood in Federal BuildingsStatements by Members

December 16th, 2010 / 2:15 p.m.
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Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, yesterday, all the Conservative members, including those from Quebec, voted against Bill C-429 regarding the use of wood in federal buildings, thereby turning their backs on Quebec and its forestry industry. Unfortunately, although they unanimously supported our initiative in the past, the Liberals and New Democrats were split on the issue.

The Quebec Conservative members are not only unable to defend the interests of Quebec but they also do not understand the needs of Quebec or its regions.

It is disappointing to see all the Conservative members oppose Bill C-429, a green initiative that would have helped Quebec's forestry industry get back on track and helped to improve the government's poor track record with regard to energy, without the need for any new investments. However, the forestry industry and its workers can count on the Bloc Québecois, which will not give up. The electoral reckoning is not far off.

December 15th, 2010 / 4:25 p.m.
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Mark Warawa Conservative Langley, BC

Mr. Chair, I appreciate that Mr. Calkins is bringing this to our attention, because I think he's quite right.

The motion is that we remove “Every resident of Canada has an interest in environmental protection”. Well, define “environmental protection”. I'd like to give an example. We just had a vote in the House of Commons, and it was Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

Of course, the coalition supported that--

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

December 15th, 2010 / 3:20 p.m.
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The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

Pursuant to order made on Tuesday, December 14, 2010, the House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at report stage of Bill C-429 under private members' business.

The House resumed from December 14 consideration of Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-429, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Use of Wood in Federal BuildingsStatements by Members

December 14th, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.
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Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, this week, the Conservative government will have another opportunity to support the forestry industry. Bill C-429, which is sponsored by my colleague from Manicouagan and which would increase the use of wood in federal buildings, will soon be voted on at third reading in this House.

Supported by municipalities, the Quebec order of architects, the Coalition BOIS Québec and forestry associations in Quebec and Canada, Bill C-429 sends a strong message to the industry by helping to highlight its transition towards processing and develop new markets.

This is also an excellent opportunity for the Conservative government to improve its record in the fight against climate change. For example, France expects to achieve 14% of its greenhouse gas reduction commitments through its wood, construction and environment plan. This government should do something good for the environment by taking the lead in promoting the use of wood.

Use of Wood in Federal BuildingsStatements By Members

November 22nd, 2010 / 2:10 p.m.
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Robert Bouchard Bloc Chicoutimi—Le Fjord, QC

Mr. Speaker, the Quebec Order of Architects publicly supports Bill C-429 to promote the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings. André Bourassa, the order's president, stated, “We have the ability to integrate.... It is time to begin this shift in Quebec....”

He also disagreed with the Conservative members for Jonquière—Alma and Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who are spreading false information by saying that we are not ready for Bill C-429.

The Conservative government's inconsistency when it comes to the forestry industry never ceases to amaze us. While it refuses to support Bill C-429, it initiated the North American wood first initiative, which encourages greater use of wood in non-residential construction. Yet that policy does nothing to encourage the use of wood in its own federal buildings. The Conservative government is sending mixed messages. Bill C-429 is a step in the right direction, but the Conservatives are demonstrating, once again, the lack of consideration—

Use of Wood in Federal BuildingsPetitionsRoutine Proceedings

November 17th, 2010 / 3:15 p.m.
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Gérard Asselin Bloc Manicouagan, QC

Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36, I am presenting a petition in the House in support of Bill C-429, which I introduced in June 2009. The petitioners note that the bill would provide immediate assistance to forestry companies and would also help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The use of wood in federal buildings will help our businesses develop new secondary and tertiary products and find new markets for our products. Furthermore, timber products are alternatives to energy-inefficient products and products that require a lot of energy to produce. They can also be a green alternative to energy-intensive construction materials.

The petitioners are calling on the government to pass Bill C-429, which would promote the use of wood in repairing and constructing federal buildings.