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

This bill was last introduced in the 41st Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in August 2015.

Sponsor

Claude Patry  Bloc

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

Status

Defeated, as of Dec. 3, 2014
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

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 factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Votes

Dec. 3, 2014 Failed 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

November 26th, 2014 / 7:10 p.m.
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NDP

Robert Aubin NDP Trois-Rivières, QC

Mr. Speaker, given that I live in Mauricie in the riding of Trois-Rivières, I could hardly turn down the invitation to participate in the debate on Bill C-574. This is an important bill that we are debating because it promotes the use of wood in the construction and renovation of federal buildings and emphasizes the role that the Department of Public Works and Government Services can play in meeting this objective.

To begin, I would like to say that I support Bill C-574 at second reading because it gives us the opportunity to promote an economically viable renewable resource that can both help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate the economy in my region and my riding. It is a perfect example—as if we needed further evidence—of how economic development and environmental protection are not mutually exclusive but go hand in hand.

That being said, Bill C-574 could have gone much further had it been part of a national strategy for the wood industry. I will come back to that a little later.

Wood is much more energy efficient than steel or concrete. The world's population is increasing as quickly as the demand for resources, so a renewable resource like wood is a responsible choice for consumers and society as a whole.

Furthermore, applied research shows that much less energy is expended to manufacture wood products than to produce concrete, plastic or other materials. A study conducted by a research institute in the United States compared the environmental effects of houses framed with wood, steel and concrete. As one might expect, steel or concrete frame houses produce 26% more greenhouse gases and release far more atmospheric pollutants.

Wood is energy efficient and economically efficient. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, wood structures cost much less than steel or masonry structures.

Environmentally speaking, concrete or steel structures can emit up to 81% more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In other words, concrete and steel are energy guzzlers, while much less energy is used to build largely comparable structures out of wood.

I would also like to point out the importance of the national building code in the development of multi-level wood frame buildings. When the right technical conditions are in place, the national building code authorizes the construction of wood frame buildings as tall as four storeys. It even authorizes some exceptions when justified by the standards. That is a first step in and of itself.

However, the government could also learn more from the national building code and should even take a look at international experience and expertise in this area. Norway, for example, is often cited for the work it does in combatting inequality, and it is also exemplary with respect to the use of wood in construction. In the city of Kirkenes there are plans to build a 17-storey wood frame building. That is far higher than the 4-storey buildings that are permitted under our national building code. I believe it would be worthwhile to at least look at that project.

Countries such as Germany and Sweden do not limit the height of wood frame buildings. Assessing the environmental impact of wood demonstrates that it is, by far, the most environmentally responsible choice, as well as the most economically viable and energy-efficient one.

In addition, the national building code offers options that the minister could use as the basis for increasing the use of wood in the construction of federal buildings. However, after looking closely at this bill, I think—and I said this at the beginning—it could have gone much much further, and the NDP goes further.

My colleague, the member for Abitibi—Témiscamingue, moved a motion calling for a national strategy for the wood industry. As we all know, the drastic drop in demand for construction wood and international competition are the main reasons for the decline of the forestry industry.

According to Forest Canada, the closure of 80 mills resulted in over 11,000 layoffs. It is hard to quantify the human tragedy behind those numbers. Despite the seriousness of the situation, I think that our forestry industry's potential remains largely untapped, just like the potential of Bill C-574.

I would like to point out that Canada has 10% of the world's forest cover and 30% of the world's boreal forest. Those are major natural assets that we can leverage to support a sustainable and competitive economy. In light of that, it is clear that there should be a comprehensive strategy for Canada's forestry sector so that it can achieve its full potential.

I would like to focus for a minute on my riding, Trois-Rivières, which is at the centre of this debate. Just last summer, Kruger launched the first cellulose filament demonstration plant.

I just want to add that the Conservative government is not investing enough in the recovery of the forestry industry, nor is it investing enough in conducting, funding and supporting the basic research required for projects as important as the one I just mentioned.

This new biomaterial, cellulose filaments, is revolutionary. It has huge potential for the Canadian forestry industry because it can be combined with a number of other materials to create high-value products. More importantly, cellulose filaments are becoming indispensable to the Canadian pulp and paper industry.

One can therefore understand my enthusiasm for our local jewel, because it will produce diversified high-value products that are highly sought after by Canadian and international industries. Thanks to this innovation, the pulp and paper industry in Trois-Rivières could recover and fuel the region's economy once again. What is more, the Forest Products Association of Canada could succeed in international markets.

The creativity of the people of Trois-Rivières knows no bounds. I could also talk about UQTR, a university known for its pulp and paper industry research centres, which is also contributing to research and the economic recovery of my region.

Patrice Mangin, a professor in the chemical engineering department, said:

We have 650,000 tonnes of wood waste in Mauricie alone, which could be used to make diesel. Imagine the jobs this could create—1,500 to 2,000 jobs in Mauricie alone.

With the motion moved by my colleague from Abitibi—Témiscamingue, we could achieve three objectives that go further than Bill C-574. First of all, we could improve our competitiveness in order to compete with international industries; second, we could diversify our export market to be less dependent on the U.S. housing market; and third, we could help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In closing, and for once I think I have managed my time almost perfectly, I would remind the House that wood is a renewable resource that is efficient in several respects. Industrial, academic and environmental stakeholders all agree on the merits of wood, and I hope the House can reach the same consensus.

I therefore support the bill at second reading, and touch wood, I hope the government will support it too.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

November 26th, 2014 / 7:20 p.m.
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NDP

François Choquette NDP Drummond, QC

Mr. Speaker, since I have only three minutes, I will get right to the heart of the matter.

I am going to support Bill C-574 on the use of wood at second reading.

As the deputy environment critic, I moved a motion on energy efficiency at the request of my constituents in Drummond and many other people across the country. In addition to being good for the environment, energy efficiency also creates jobs and lowers energy bills.

The use of wood provides economic benefits to the regions—as my colleague from Trois-Rivières so clearly explained—as well as environmental benefits. For example, from an environmental perspective, wood compares favourably to other building materials, such as steel and concrete. Steel uses 26% to 34% more energy and emits 57% to 81% more greenhouse gases than wood.

I am pleased to rise in the House to talk about the importance of using wood in construction. This bill would allow the Minister of Public Works and Government Services to give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property.

Unfortunately, the Conservatives voted against my motion on energy efficiency, when it would have been a good starting point with regard to the use of wood as well.

The motion that I moved on energy efficiency stated:

That, in the opinion of the House, the government should implement an energy efficiency program to encourage owners of houses, residential buildings, shops and businesses to reduce their energy consumption, with a view to: (a) combatting climate change; [we will soon be attending the International Conference on Climate Change in Lima and we need to be ready] (b) lowering the energy bills of Canadians; and (c) creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

This motion would have covered all of the good points. Unfortunately, the Conservatives did not understand that because they voted against it.

This bill is similar in that it is good for the economies of the regions and job creation.

I did not have very much time, but I would like to thank the House for allowing me to speak to this bill.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members’ Business

November 26th, 2014 / 7:25 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude Patry Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank all my colleagues of every political affiliation in the House of Commons for participating in the debate, whether or not they support Bill C-574. This bill was introduced in the House in 2010 and was defeated at second reading.

The forestry sector has been devastated by massive job losses across Canada and Quebec, caused mainly by the recession, the global economy, the stronger Canadian dollar and the structural decline in the demand for paper documents. These no longer exist today because newspapers are going online.

Why did we introduce this bill? It is because in my area, many sawmills and plants have closed and many paper machines have been shut down. In Chambord, a plant has been closed for years. That is why we brought back this bill.

Today, there are many things on the market that promote innovation, new products and new technologies. I realize that the Conservative government has helped the forestry industry, but it could do more.

If the government has given many millions of dollars to this sector, why have so many plants in Canada closed? I do not see how Bill C-574 would violate Canada's obligations under national and international trade agreements such as NAFTA, the WTO Agreement and the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Canadian wood was never specifically identified in the bill, because we did not want the bill to be prejudicial to anyone. Today, we want to use it to construct buildings that are less than seven storeys high and to repair federal buildings.

For example, if the House of Commons chamber were renovated, I would like wood to be used instead of steel. That is the goal of our bill: we want to use wood.

On the weekend I went to watch a hockey tournament in a building made of steel, concrete that had beautiful wood ceilings. All three materials can be used together to build nice buildings. Back home, such buildings are built for tourism and industry. People who come to La Baie on cruise ships can see these beautiful concrete and wood buildings. The materials can be used together.

We never asked that the government be required to choose wood during the bidding process. We simply want it to choose the least expensive option from among wood, steel and concrete. If steel is the least expensive, the decision will not be a hard one.

Back home, a lot of buildings have been built using all of the materials. This has created jobs for a number of employees of plants that were shut down. This contributes to sustainable development. The government should take into account costs and greenhouse gas emissions when Public Works and Government Services Canada solicits bids.

The Conservative government said that it would oppose the bill, but I would like to quote from a 2011 interview with my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, who is also a minister. He said that he wanted to promote the use of wood in the construction of public buildings. I will quote the whole paragraph:

In the coming months, it will be important to introduce bills to encourage the use of wood in public buildings, while also ensuring that current federal and provincial codes can fully meet requirements. That way, our engineers and architects can take wood into account when doing their calculations and the professionals already in operation will have the means, tools, software and techniques to safely carry out these projects using wood.

The Conservatives are opposing the bill, but in 2011 the minister said that the government needed to encourage the use of wood.

We need to encourage the use of wood throughout Canada and Quebec. The plants that have closed could reopen, there could be renovations and the industry could get up and running again. Instead of investing millions that only translate into closures, the government should require that people use wood for their repairs. Anything is possible. The bill's wording may not be very broad, but that was our intention. The same bill was introduced in 2010. MPs rejected the bill at second reading, but in any case, I am pleased to have discussed this topic with my work colleagues.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 1:50 p.m.
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Bloc

Claude Patry Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

moved that Bill C-574, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to begin debate on my bill to promote the use of wood in the construction of federal public buildings.

Bill C-574, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood) is quite simple. It reads as follows:

1. Section 7 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act is amended by adding the following after subsection (1):

(1.1) Despite subsection (1), before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal immovables and federal real property, the Minister shall give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood, while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

My bill amends the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act and calls on the federal government to give preference to projects that increase the use of wood products in construction. A number of governments have realized that using more wood in their buildings is not only a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but it also provides direct support to the industry. The long list of governments that have their own policies on wood use includes Quebec, France, Sweden, Norway, Austria and Finland.

Bill C-574 was introduced by the Bloc Québécois, which would like to see the House of Commons pass it. A similar bill introduced by the Bloc Québécois in 2010 passed second reading stage in the House. Only the Conservatives refused to support it.

The forestry industry needs help to adjust to changes in the pulp and paper market. The Conservative government must stop stalling and follow the lead of other countries that have adopted a policy to use wood as a building material in public buildings.

Given the Conservative government's failure to support the Quebec forestry industry, the Government of Quebec had to be proactive by putting in place a wood charter. With the adoption of that charter, construction projects that are funded wholly or in part by the Government of Quebec must now systematically demonstrate that a wood solution was evaluated.

Not only will this strategy help revitalize the forestry industry, but it will be an excellent way to combat greenhouse gas emissions, something that is of little consequence to the Conservative government. Renewing our forests will also help with carbon capture and improve Quebec's record in that regard and, by extension, that of the federal government, which prefers to promote the expansion of the oil sands industry.

The Quebec forestry industry is in need of urgent help. To date, the Conservative government has given forestry companies nothing but crumbs. Meanwhile, it has given billions of dollars to the Ontario automotive industry.

It is imperative that the House support Quebec's initiative in this regard and pass Bill C-574 in order to follow suit in the construction of its public buildings.

The bill that we are proposing would provide immediate assistance to forestry companies and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The use of wood in federal buildings would help our businesses develop new secondary and tertiary products and find new markets for local products.

Furthermore, given that timber products are alternatives to energy inefficient products, such as steel, which takes a lot of energy to process, the use of wood is a tangible way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to capturing carbon dioxide, wood is also a green alternative to energy-intensive construction materials.

In 2011, Canada's forestry industry represented approximately $23.7 billion of the Canadian economy, which is about 1.9% of the total gross domestic product.

Canada is the second largest exporter of raw forest products in the world, after the United States. It is the fourth largest exporter of all the wood products considered. Canada is the largest exporter of pulp and paper, newsprint and softwood lumber in the world and the fourth largest exporter of wood panels.

A total of 65% of Canadian forestry products are exported to the United States. China is an increasingly important market for Canadian forestry products, particularly pulp and softwood lumber.

In 2011, the forestry industry generated approximately 233,900 direct jobs for Canadians. If we include indirect jobs, such as those in construction, engineering and transport, the forestry industry is responsible for almost 600,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country.

The forestry industry is important to Quebec. Quebec has 2% of the world's forests, an area of 760,000 square kilometres—the equivalent of Sweden and Norway combined.

The industry provides 50,500 manufacturing jobs—26,800 in wood processing and 23,700 in pulp and paper—and more than 10,500 forestry jobs. There are also 630 engineers who work in forest management and logging operations.

The forestry industry generates more than $7 billion in sales outside Quebec, which is about 13% of all Quebec exports. The forestry industry is currently the economic driver of 140 Quebec municipalities. Forests represent the heritage of all Quebeckers, and 90% of them are public land, while 10% belong to private interests—more than 130,000 owners. In Quebec, the potential for public forests is 29 million cubic metres a year, and it is 12 million cubic metres a year for private forests.

For years, the forestry industry has been going from one crisis to the next. First, there was the softwood lumber conflict with the United States from May 2002 to fall 2006. During that period, Quebec's forestry industry lost more than 10,000 jobs.

Even though the Conservatives promised during the 2005 election campaign to create a loan guarantee program for forestry companies that were suffering as a result of the conflict, they reneged on their promise once they came to power. The Prime Minister, who wanted to sign a softwood lumber agreement with the Americans, chose instead to starve the industry to ensure that it would accept any old agreement. Since the industry was short of cash during that period, it was not able to invest money to improve its productivity, and it emerged from the conflict substantially weakened and ill-equipped to face challenges. The consequences are still being felt today.

Then, there was the rising dollar. Boosted by Alberta oil, the Canadian dollar rose by about 60% in four years, compared to the American dollar. Forestry companies lost their competitive edge on foreign markets, especially the American market. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that Canada's forestry industry loses $500 million in revenue for every 1¢ increase in the value of the dollar. The Quebec Forest Industry Council estimates that loss at $150 million in Quebec.

In addition, the paper market is saturated and in slow but steady decline, partly because of improved communication technologies. What is more, companies are being hit with higher oil prices, which increase their production and transportation costs. To top it all off, the construction market in the United States collapsed because of the financial and housing crisis. Not only are sales down, but prices are down and companies are in poor financial shape, which diminishes their ability to invest, innovate, modernize and develop new products. Today, while the higher dollar should allow forestry companies to buy new equipment at a reasonable price to improve and diversify their production, they are often unable to invest because they emerged from the crisis crippled with debt.

The forestry crisis that hit Quebec was very serious. From 2005 to 2011, the forestry industry lost nearly 30% of its workforce. The industry went from 130,000 workers in 2005 to 99,659 in 2011. From 2004-05 to 2012-13, there was a 38.7% drop in jobs in silviculture and timber harvesting, which reduced job numbers to a little more than 10,000 in those areas. Approximately 26,000 direct jobs were lost in the wood product manufacturing sector from 2005 to 2010. Just over 3,000 more were lost in 2011 and 2012. In total, there was a 29% decrease. At the same time, the pulp and paper industry lost 33% of its jobs.

In 2011, Quebec's softwood lumber production dropped by 10% and deliveries were down by nearly 6%.

Quebec and Canada have a long history of using wood in housing construction. Most single family homes are built of wood. Commercial and industrial buildings, however, are usually built out of concrete and steel. Recent technological breakthroughs in engineered wood like finger-jointed wood and glued laminated timber have helped facilitate the development of wood construction. At the same time, many government building codes allow the use of wood in a wider range of situations. For instance, British Columbia allows the construction of buildings of up to six storeys in wood, compared to past norms, which allowed for only three or four storeys. Sweden has buildings of up to 10 storeys with wooden frames.

What have other governments done to encourage the use of wood to build public buildings?

Quebec is already relying on increased use of wood in construction in the province, particularly in public buildings, other non-residential buildings and multi-family dwellings. This strategy aims to maximize Quebec's dominant position in high value-added products.

On April 30, 2013, the Government of Quebec passed its wood charter, which compels contractors to consider using wood in any project paid from public funds. In its own projects, the Government of Quebec is setting an example by promoting the increased use of wood in the construction of large-scale buildings.

By changing the rules in the Régie du bâtiment du Québec, the wood charter allows five and six storey buildings to be built out of wood. In general, this new tool aims to increase the use of wood in construction in Quebec, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop higher value-added wood products.

The wood charter also seeks to promote the use of a combination of wood and other materials and the use of appearance wood. To achieve that goal, educational institutions and centres of expertise will be called upon to provide training related to the use of wood in structures. These institutions will also promote this use so that professionals, such as architects and engineers, will have the latest information on the use of wood as a structural component.

Wood products can be substituted for products with high embodied energy that are at the mercy of rising fuel costs. Environmental concerns have led a number of countries to develop a strategy for the use of wood products, which is an important part of their strategy to combat greenhouse gas emissions.

British Columbia would like to develop the domestic wood market by requiring all new public buildings to use British Columbia wood, if possible, and by making changes to the Building Code that would allow for the construction of six-storey wooden buildings. British Columbia worked with the other provinces to make the same changes.

France's Wood, Construction, Environment plan is designed to increase the market share of wood in the construction industry by 25%. This increase, achieved by replacing products such as concrete and steel with wood, could allow the country to meet nearly 14% of its target under the Kyoto protocol.

Under its carbon neutral public service program, the New Zealand government requires wood and wood products to be considered as the main construction materials for new government buildings of three stories or less in height.

In Norway, the strategy to increase the use of wood involves promoting and showing the possibilities for the increased use of wood.

The use of wood can help combat climate change. Forest renewal makes it possible to capture and store carbon. Once mature trees are harvested, young trees absorb more carbon as they grow than trees that are at the end of their life cycle. Moreover, wood products will continue to store carbon throughout their useful life.

As long as the carbon remains stored in the wood, any increase in the overall volume of timber supply will reduce the amount of carbon in the atmosphere. Thus, an increased use of wood in construction is a simple way to combat climate change.

Since wood products store carbon, the atmosphere will remain free of that carbon as long as the wood product is being used and even after, if the product is re-used or recycled as a secondary raw material or for energy production.

The use of wood materials in construction can reduce CO2 emissions because they require less energy to manufacture than other building materials.

The use of wood will kick-start the forestry and wood industry. We are seeing more and more buildings made of wood. Furthermore, wood is also being used together with steel and concrete. In my riding, an increasing number of tourism buildings are being built with concrete, steel and wood, which is becoming more popular. It will revitalize the wood industry.

The minister, my colleague from Roberval—Lac-Saint-Jean, has already said in an interview that more federal government buildings should be built with wood in order to revitalize the wood industry.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

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

Conservative

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.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 2:20 p.m.
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NDP

Élaine Michaud NDP Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to speak to today's debate on Bill C-574. Contrary to what my Conservative colleague just said, this bill is proposing a rather interesting idea that deserves to be explored further in the House.

The idea is to require that the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, before soliciting bids for the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal buildings and federal real property, give preference to the concept that promotes the use of wood while taking into account the factors of cost and greenhouse gas emissions.

This idea is part of a sustainable development approach, which might partly explain why the Conservative government does not seem to want to support it. Sustainable development does not seem to be on its radar. We see how the government allows the haphazard and unrestricted development of our natural resources at the expense of a number of economic sectors and the lives of Canadians.

Sustainable development is important to the NDP. It is with that in mind that I am supporting Bill C-574 at second reading, in the hope that we continue to study it in committee. If there are any problems with the bill, that would be the best time to discuss it and propose amendments that might be needed. However, to do so, we need to study the bill more closely. The bill therefore needs to be referred to committee.

The use of wood in construction is a concept that is starting to take off, especially in Quebec, but also in other regions of Canada. Last year, the Government of Quebec adopted a wood charter, in order to have public works managers assess, for each publicly funded project, the possibility of using wood as construction material. This would also include calculating the greenhouse gas emissions in comparison with other types of materials.

Because that charter was adopted, contractors in Quebec can now build buildings up to six storeys high out of wood, as well as other kinds of infrastructure, such as bridges, for example. Since wood is a sustainable and renewable resource that compares favourably to other building materials, specifically regarding greenhouse gas emissions, I think this alternative needs to be explored.

By using more wood, the government could also save a lot of money, not only when public buildings are being built, but also in the long term. Operating and maintenance costs for buildings made of wood are 55% lower than for buildings made of other materials.

Never mind the issue of sustainable development, I will speak a language that the Conservatives understand: economics. Saving 55% on operating and maintenance costs is significant, to say nothing of the savings that can be had at the time of construction by using wood. These factors should not be dismissed out of hand when new federal building projects are assessed.

Furthermore, the new opportunities that would arise from the increased use of wood in various construction projects could definitely help create more good jobs in rural or remote regions of Quebec, of course, but also many other areas of Canada. This is very important.

The Canadian forest products industry is one of Canada's largest employers. It provides 230,000 direct jobs in 200 communities across Canada. The benefits of using more wood in federal buildings would be visible from coast to coast to coast. We must bear that in mind when evaluating this kind of legislation. This could mean economic benefits for every province and territory. This is very important.

Among the 200 communities that boast jobs directly related to the forestry industy, several are municipalities in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, where the forestry industry has always played a very important role in the regional economy. For instance, in the Portneuf RCM, which includes 18 municipalities, over 1,400 people are employed in the forestry industry, mainly in wood processing.

In addition to veneer, door and window plants, there are also many sawmills in the Portneuf RCM. The forestry industry also played a major role in first attracting people to live in the Portneuf RCM.

The situation is similar in the Jacques-Cartier RCM, which includes nine municipalities. In addition to its historic role in the settlement and development of the Jacques-Cartier region, the forestry industry continues to be important to the regional economy, mainly because of the businesses working in secondary and tertiary processing of wood products.

By passing a bill such as Bill C-574, we could create good jobs in ridings such as mine and in a sector that has experienced major difficulties in recent years. My riding was not spared by the crises in the manufacturing and forestry industries. A few years ago, the AbitibiBowater plant in Donnacona closed its doors, leaving employees without jobs, resources or pensions. The Conservative government of the day refused to take action, which was very unfortunate. The MP at the time—I cannot remember if he was an independent or a Conservative—was not of much help to the people of Donnacona, who were directly affected by the AbitibiBowater plant closure.

That is why members introduce bills such as Bill C-574. They do so to address some of the problems in remote rural regions where it can be difficult to create good jobs that provide adequate income for households in the area.

At present, in my riding of Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, municipalities have used wood in a number of commercial buildings. The results are quite interesting. This was made possible by the leadership of the municipal councils, but also with the support of the Province of Quebec, which strongly supports the use of wood as a construction material in public buildings and public works.

I would like to give an example that is quite beautiful to see. I invite you to come and visit this building. In 2010, the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs built its head office in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures in my riding. It decided to use wood for both the interior and the exterior of the building. The result is beautiful, and the building blends in well with its natural surroundings. In 2011, this building and the Fédération québécoise des chasseurs et pêcheurs even received a cecobois award of excellence. The Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois or cecobois is an organization that seeks to promote and support the use of wood in multi-family and non-residential construction in Quebec. Of course, it also promotes the use of local resources, such as wood, and tries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while supporting more responsible economic development based on the principles of sustainable development. An organization that demonstrated this type of leadership can be found in Saint-Augustin-de-Desmaures.

More recently, on September 24, the Centre d'expertise sur la construction commerciale en bois also presented two awards of excellence to municipalities in the Portneuf RCM: Cap-Santé and Portneuf. Cap-Santé built a multi-purpose facility, called the Maison des générations, which will be used by various organizations in the community. A lot of wood was used, and the results are extraordinary. In Portneuf, Bishop Bridge is a wonderful structure made predominantly of wood.

These two municipalities are good models, and the government should look at what was done and how the communities benefited from these projects. It should play a leadership role to try to ensure that the principles of sustainable development are upheld, to help Canadians save money and to promote development in a sector that has lost a lot of jobs in recent years.

That is why I support Bill C-574. I hope that we will have the opportunity to take this bill further and at least examine it in committee so that we can seriously discuss and study it.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 2:30 p.m.
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Liberal

Lise St-Denis Liberal Saint-Maurice—Champlain, QC

Mr. Speaker, we need to once again address the difficulties that producers and processors in the forestry industry are grappling with. Bill C-574 is fundamentally related to the ongoing crisis in one of our country's oldest industries. We have been helplessly watching the demise of our forestry industry in forests from British Columbia to New Brunswick. Paper mills are dropping like flies and the recent announcement of the mill closures in East Angus and Shawinigan, in Quebec, confirm this strong trend that is undermining our industry.

Forestry producers are not only required to go further to get raw materials, but they also have to compete with new technologies and other replacement products in the construction industry.

As we know, the need for paper is dropping. Research and development in Canada is at a standstill, despite the importance of the forestry industry to our economy. Tens of thousands of jobs depend on this industry, which is hundreds of years old. In Mauricie, entire communities depend on wood—from logging to its transport, processing and marketing.

We are still shocked by the slow erosion of our forestry industry and especially by the inaction of governments in response to the disappearance of thousands of specialized jobs in Canada. Since the first lumber camps opened in Mauricie, forestry has fed families and communities and has been a part of the region's social and economic fabric.

Much like other regions of Canada that rely on forestry, we are still waiting for concrete action to revitalize these companies that are being threatened by changing technologies and globalization. However, using more wood is a realistic solution to address the economic problems of the regions, if only because of the diversity of production and our expertise.

From timber to softwood lumber, there are many possible solutions to address today's industrial needs. We have been blessed with all this wood around us, but considering that the government's efforts have been largely symbolic, we cannot say that we are out of the woods.

Legislation on the use of wood in federal building projects is a no-brainer, but why is it that we have not already developed the instinct to include our own primary resources in our infrastructure? These days, many young people are leaving the regions because there are no jobs. The federal government, with its employment insurance system, sends them a clear message that they should leave rather than invest in their communities.

It is strange, to say the least, that we have to convince this government of the regenerating capacity of our forests. Logs from our forests are fueling softwood lumber industries all around the world. When will we get a real lumber policy that will make a difference here at home, in our communities?

The time has come to take action in response to the plant closures that are tearing our industrial base apart. We need forestry policies right now to save an industry that operates in many regions across Canada. Our country has always had these vast forests that, over the centuries, have helped us prosper around the world. What kind of policies can we create now to develop this industry in the context of globalization and bilateral and multilateral agreements?

The resource is there, and as new technologies emerge, we need to take action. Sustainable development and air pollution are the focus of public debate, and without a doubt, our forestry resources are part of the solution.

At the local level, municipalities and business owners support including wood and wood waste in the economic cycle of production and consumption. Efforts such as using biomass to heat institutional facilities are starting to pay off.

We are at the dawn of a wood revolution, and we are seeing wood included in new technologies. We need to give ourselves the chance to continue to prosper, with the help of these industries that are the backbone of our regions. Let us be forward thinking and develop policies to promote the forestry industry, not just because it has economic value, but also because these products have environmental value and have no equivalent in the construction industry.

It goes without saying that we should incorporate wood into our federal infrastructure, but the ultimate goal is for the government to promote wood production at the national level. We are distressed by the recent closure of paper mills in Quebec, and we urge decision-makers to agree on a national wood policy in order to put an end to the demolition of an industry that helped build our nation. Jobs are being lost and communities are dying. When will the government react and invest in research and development?

We are not asking for government funds to be allocated without any kind of coordination or planning. We are looking for a national policy that will include solutions that come from the industry itself.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActGovernment Orders

October 3rd, 2014 / 2:35 p.m.
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Saskatoon—Rosetown—Biggar Saskatchewan

Conservative

Kelly Block ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources

Mr. Speaker, as we know, forestry is part of our history and identity as Canadians, and I would like to thank the member for Jonquière—Alma for introducing the bill. It provides me with an opportunity to discuss our country's vital forest sector.

While the bill is problematic, and I will touch on some of my concerns later on in my remarks, I can appreciate the desire to support our forestry industry. Our government shares this appreciation, and is in fact already acting upon this in significant ways.

Further to the points previously raised by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Public Works and Government Services, allow me to describe in greater detail some of the ways that our government has demonstrated consistent support for the forestry sector.

Economic action plan 2014 continues to make unprecedented investments to innovate Canada's forestry sector and to protect it from the threat of pests. Today this sector provides direct employment for over 235,000 workers in every part of our country, and it is a particularly important employer in rural and remote communities. In fact, in 200 communities, it accounts for at least half of the economic base.

However, the forestry sector has faced some challenges over the last decade. These challenges have come about due to a variety of factors, including the worldwide economic downturn, the stronger Canadian dollar, a structural decline in North American newsprint demand, and increased competition from other forest products.

Yet, the tide is turning. I am pleased to report that forestry sector markets are rebounding and market expansion efforts are proving successful. Jobs and the economy are the top priorities of this government, and since 2006 our government has provided over $1.8 billion in various initiatives to support the economic competitiveness and environmental sustainability of Canada's forestry sector. This includes investments in developing new markets, supporting innovation, and reducing the industry's environmental footprint. Thanks in part to this support, Canada's forestry industry is reinventing itself, by becoming more innovative, more environmentally friendly, and more global in reach. It is adopting innovation as part of its new business model.

How is all of this happening? A main hub of the forest sector innovation system in Canada is the not-for-profit organization FPInnovations, which our government helped to create in 2007. Today, FPInnovations is the world's largest public-private forest products research institute. Comprised of Canada's three national research institutes and Natural Resources Canada's Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, FPInnovations focuses on the development of emerging and breakthrough technologies, such as biomass harvesting and conversion, and nanotechnology. It conducts forest products research under NRCan's forest innovation program and is a partner in deploying promising new technologies into the forest products industry.

The investments in the forest industry transformation program, or IFIT, go another step forward. Through this program, our government is helping to see that new first-of-their-kind products, technologies, and processes with demonstrated value are brought to market. Our government has already supported 14 world-class or Canada-first projects, and economic action plan 2014 has committed more than $90 million to the program over the next four years.

A great example of a project that has benefited from IFIT is the one at Lauzon, in Papineauville, Quebec, a collaboration with the Centre de recherche industrielle du Québec and FPInnovations. In a global first, Lauzon is piloting Canadian-developed scanning technology that allows it to classify and sort logs in order to increase the amount of wood fibre recovered to 70%, compared to the current industry standard of 40%.

The capacity to convert low-quality wood fibre into customized unfinished flooring planks greatly increases the value that Lauzon obtains from each log. This technology could potentially be replicated in other hardwood flooring mills, thus benefiting the wider industry.

In another great project, Kruger Biomaterials Inc. is building a demonstration plant in Trois-Rivières for the commercialization of cellulose filaments, which are used in papermaking to soften, strengthen, and brighten paper. This Canadian innovation is another exciting world first, and as such will provide Canada with an immediate competitive advantage.

Strong, light, recyclable, and made without effluents, cellulose filaments have such a wide array of non-traditional uses that they have the potential to radically transform Canada's forestry sector.

Last December, Natural Resources Canada announced a $15 million investment in the commercialization facility, complementing earlier investments in R and D undertaken by FPinnovations. It is investments like these that are helping to shape the forestry sector of tomorrow.

Other investments have helped develop and expand markets.

In economic action plan 2012, $105 million over two years was announced to support forestry sector innovation and market development.

In economic action plan 2013, our government committed to an additional $92 million over two years, starting in 2014-15, to develop innovative new products and to diversify our markets. This market diversification strategy has helped Canada's wood products sector increase its exports in some rapidly growing Asian economies over the last decade.

For example, our government's focus on expanding export markets has resulted in a 1,000% increase of Canadian softwood lumber exports to China. Further, the value of Canadian wood products exports to China increased almost 24-fold between 2002 and 2012 to $1.4 billion.

In other trade-related activities, in 2012 our government announced the extension of the Canada-U.S. Softwood Lumber Agreement until October 2015, providing stable access to the U.S. market, and under the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement announced last fall, our world-class wood products would enjoy preferential access to, and increased demand from, the EU's member states.

It is no secret that expanding markets mean more jobs for Canadians, and that is good news for the economy and good news for Canadian families.

There are many other initiatives I could mention. However, with my limited time remaining, let me just mention the $18 million over four years announced in economic action plan 2014 for an action plan to assist eastern Canada in combatting the spruce budworm outbreak. Along with our government's other strategic investments, this investment is intended to help the industry and communities maintain their recovery momentum

I would now like to turn my attention to the reasons that I cannot support the bill.

While I certainly appreciate the desire to assist the forestry industry, this legislation has fundamental flaws that make it very problematic. If passed, Bill C-574 would contravene Canada's obligations under its international and domestic trade agreements, such as NAFTA, WTO, and the Agreement on Internal Trade.

Furthermore, by advocating an amendment to the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to mandate the use of wood in the construction, maintenance, or repair of public works real property, the bill is in effect introducing an untenable bias into the procurement process.

Government contracting and procurement processes are in place to ensure openness, fairness, and transparency. Mandating the drafting of tender requirements to include a preference for wood products would grant an unfair advantage to suppliers proposing wood solutions at the expense of other important sectors of our economy, such as the steel industry and the concrete industry, for example.

In closing, our government's top priority is to create jobs, economic growth, and long-term prosperity for all sectors of our economy, including the forestry industry. That is why we are making significant investments in forest industry innovation and expanding markets for Canada's wood products sector, and it is why we are committed to continuing to support the forest sector and to achieve real results for Canadians, something the bill fails to do.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActRoutine Proceedings

February 6th, 2014 / 10:05 a.m.
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Bloc

Claude Patry Bloc Jonquière—Alma, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-574, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (use of wood).

Mr. Speaker, today I am introducing a bill that would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. This bill requires the federal government to give preference to projects that promote the use of wood in federal buildings.

Our bill will allow us to 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 processing products and find new markets for our products.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)