Mr. Speaker, it has been a while since I began this speech, so we will pick up where we left off. It is great to stand to speak in support of Bill C-344, a bill that looks at the connection between social benefit and economic benefit. When we look at the triple bottom line, we like to connect social, environmental, and economic benefits. This bill addresses the social part of that equation, connecting to the economic benefits. Therefore, in cases where construction projects are being procured by the government, we want to look at how that project would benefit the community in which it is located.
In 2015, we campaigned on significant investments on infrastructure across the country. Now is a good time to look at how that investment would benefit communities socially, as well as create the jobs for which we are targeting those investments. It is an excellent opportunity to also look at the scope of supply that includes social innovation with SMEs. A lot of our construction firms already take this into account when they are working on projects, creating schools in neighbourhoods, creating infrastructure through roads. However, it is not the standard practice across the country. Therefore, through this bill, we want to encourage our contractors and other people who are applying for government funds to consider the direct and indirect impact they have on communities through the projects they are putting through. The government plays a significant role in providing opportunities for these firms. The bill looks at the opportunity the government wants to create in terms of a better society, to make sure that what we are investing in is going to reach our social objectives as well.
An excellent example of empowering marginalized communities has already been raised by my hon. colleague from Sault Ste. Marie. Highway 17 was being constructed in his riding, and it was going through the Garden River First Nation. They requested that there be a stronger community benefit in this investment. They listed a number of initiatives, such as including employment for the Garden River people, training, the use of local aggregates, and subcontracting to local businesses.
Another example, the Waneta expansion project, was highlighted by the now Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. This project has the Columbia Power Corporation signed on with community benefits, through an agreement it has with the Ktunaxa Nation council for the Waneta expansion project in British Columbia. Provisions of assistance to the community in this small hydro development included green projects, such as the Waneta power project, but it also looked at how it impacts the local community in terms of the triple bottom line approach, including education and social benefits for the community.
Another benefit that would arise form Bill C-344 is that it would ensure the whole community would benefit from the publicly funded initiatives. The bill would make sure that the proposed procurement initiatives would be of the most use to the community they are in, and would have the most lasting benefit for the people who live in those communities. Moreover, this bill would increase transparency and accountability in the procurement process, helping to prevent the use of public monies to cater to special interests. It is common-sense legislation, such as Bill C-344, that Canadians elected us to work on when we were elected in 2015.
We had an example in my community in Guelph. It was a cool highlighting of how projects have multiple benefits within a community. The Parkwood Gardens Community Church applied for and received some funding after its community benefit assessment was done. It was determined that the church members provide an estimated $2.1 million to our community in charitable donations and volunteer hours, resulting from a $50,000 Canada 150 grant to improve accessibility to the community space. Even smaller organizations like community churches that provide space for use by Brownies, Cub Scouts, and other community organizations show a huge impact on the community in terms of investment in kind through volunteer time, and other benefits to their community.
We need to look at the process that procurement provides, and the opportunities for us to reflect the values of Canadians. Alongside transparency and accountability, procurement can also fulfill economic, social, and environmental goals. Procurement can engage municipalities and community groups to understand what projects have the greatest impact and benefit to communities. It can hire local business and community members in need of an opportunity to get into the workforce. Procurement projects can also encourage social innovation, and even reconciliation with our indigenous peoples.
This bill is a great opportunity for us to get the most out of our tax dollars and benefit our communities in ways that go well beyond economic benefit. I am pleased to support this bill.