moved that Bill C-344, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit), be read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, today is a proud moment for me, because my private member's bill, Bill C-344, is now up for third reading.
The purpose of Bill C-344 is to amend section 20 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. The bill would stand for community benefits, CBAs, and if passed, would give special power to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, with an authority to require assessment of the benefits that a community derives from a project in which federal investment is made.
I introduced the bill with the motivation that it would be beneficial for the community at large. The community benefit agreement is a new approach to development and growth in projects across Canada. CBAs would create community wealth, social values, quality jobs, and a healthier environment.
Bill C-344 would amend section 20 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act by providing the minister with the authority and flexibility to require successful bidders on federal construction maintenance and repair projects to provide information on community benefits. At the behest of the minister, a successful bidder would be required to outline the benefits a project is providing to the community, whether those benefits be through employment, social infrastructure, or other means.
The minister would collect the data from successful bidders and use the same to help update further procurement modernizations. The bill would ensure that the government is receiving best value for Canadians. CBAs would enable the minister to formulate agreements with federal infrastructure developers, with added input from community groups. It would also require the minister to annually report to Parliament as to what community benefits have been implemented.
The mandate letter to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement asks that the minister make procurement practices simpler and less administratively burdensome, deploy modern comptrollership, and include practices that support green and social procurement. As legislators, it is our duty to work for the benefit and betterment of communities, towards inclusiveness and their participation in projects.
We all know that acquiring skills is a prerequisite for meaningful employment, especially for women and youth within our communities. The main result of meaningful employment is restoration of dignity and meaningful development for individuals. In other words, when we strive to build physical infrastructure, at the same time we must aspire to look at the development of social infrastructure, which leads to inner well-being and can be called the inner infrastructure of an individual. Federal infrastructure investments, when shared with communities, will foster ownership of a project and as a result create a sense of pride for the individuals who participated.
I have looked into the primary arguments brought up by some members that this proposed legislation may create additional red tape. However, let us not forget that the major benefits of CBAs are not only that they allow local communities to benefit financially, but also that they give them an opportunity to provide their input and innovative ideas as to how delays, if any, can be minimized.
No one is suggesting that the rules and regulations must be optional or should be ignored, but the CBA concept will give the opportunity to provide services efficiently. Comprehensive consultations with communities will reduce the red tape for small and medium-sized businesses and further accelerate the approval process. Local communities will work to enhance the process of a project because it is for their own benefit. Thereby, CBAs can result in services being delivered without delay.
I'm certain that all of us are committed to strengthening our communities, and one way of realizing this vision is to enrich communities through collaboration and meaningful participation. For communities, the opportunities to apply their skills in local projects will ultimately generate a sense of pride and ownership.
Our government has committed billions of dollars over the next several years to infrastructure investments. The primary purpose of these infrastructure investments is for jobs and economic growth for the middle class and for those working hard to join it.
I am convinced, and I am sure that members will be with me in saying that meaningful employment is one method to achieve this. That is the way. Now it is time that we see the importance of inclusiveness through skills training, meaningful employment, and communities taking ownership of these infrastructure investments as a step towards the eradication of poverty and the promotion of social harmony.
Some of us may think that we have placed added constraints on contractors by addressing community inclusion during the bidding process. However, this is false because this process is very simple. The successful bidder will be bound to provide information to the minister, and the involvement of the minister will make the process simple.
Furthermore, there will be more accountability for Canadian tax dollars. The minister will not only have more involvement in the project, but will also be accountable to Parliament and taxpayers.
From the consultation process in my riding, what I have gathered by speaking to members of the community and to contractors is that CBAs will be welcomed by everyone, because they will ultimately promote socio-economic benefits for communities. Needless to say, this concept has been tried and successfully proven in many cities, provinces, and countries, like Ontario and the United States of America.
Bill C-344 would require the government to implement the modernization of the government procurement process. It would state to businesses and communities that we are managing procurement effectively to achieve broader socio-economic goals, while making it faster to do business with the federal government.
Let it remain clear that the purpose of Bill C-344 is to better our communities by creating a sense of community participation. Motivation in the communities will come by way of collaboration and ownership in the project. Skill training opportunities, employment, jobs, and additional benefits to communities are all reasons for the CBA. It is a win-win situation.