An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit)

Sponsor

Ramesh Sangha  Liberal

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

Status

Second reading (House), as of June 19, 2017

Subscribe to a feed (what's a feed?) of speeches and votes in the House related to Bill C-344.

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 provide the Minister with the authority to require an assessment of the benefits that a community derives from a construction, maintenance or repair project.

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.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / noon
See context

Liberal

Lloyd Longfield Liberal Guelph, ON

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the hon. member for Brampton Centre for bringing forward his private member's legislation.

I rise today in support of Bill C-344, which would require an assessment of the benefits that a community would derive from a construction, maintenance, or repair project. This common-sense legislation will have many benefits for Canadian communities.

In 2015, we campaigned on historic infrastructure investments. The bill would add community benefit to the our investment and construction goals. The ministry already receives submissions on cost and time of construction, however, there is no policy that requires contractors to assess what benefits a project would offer to our communities. Bill C-344 would address this gap in the current procurement policies.

Bill C-344 also speaks to the triple bottom line, which I have adopted, that emphasizes social, economic, and environmental innovation.

Community benefit agreements are a new approach to empowering local communities to partner with developers in order to respond to local challenges. CBAs can be used to address economic development and growth, but also poverty reduction and environmental sustainability in neighbourhoods across Canada.

The bill seeks to maximize the value of every public dollar invested in our communities. By requesting applicants to submit an assessment on community benefits, the minister can make a much more informed decision around community priorities.

Under this new system, the government can weigh the additional benefits each contractor will bring to the community, including additional information such as jobs created during and after, environmental benefit, and costs. The minister can move forward with greater confidence that money is being invested wisely in our communities.

The economic gains of procurement are clear. Public Services and Procurement Canada manages close to $15 billion in procurement on behalf of federal departments and agencies. These procurements multiply economic opportunities and community benefits across the country through direct and indirect effects.

Crucially, close to 40% of our overall procurement business goes to small and medium-size enterprises, which are almost always local. Using figures from the last three years, 98% of construction contracts awarded in Ontario went to suppliers based in Ontario.

This policy will also incentivize private construction firms to think more broadly about their role in communities, and is in practise already with many municipalities. This approach offers an excellent opportunity for businesses to increase the scope of their supply to include a focus on social innovation and environmental benefit. In addition, the platform includes a proposal for federal infrastructure projects as a means to ensure development of opportunities for veterans and other under-represented groups.

Bill C-344 also offers an opportunity for Public Services and Procurement Canada to engage in work with municipalities. No one appreciates and understands the diverse and unique needs of communities better than the people who live there.

Canadians require a procurement process that works for them and reflects their values. Alongside transparency and accountability, procurement can fulfill economic, social, and environmental benefits. Bill C-344 is an opportunity for Canadians to get the most out of their tax dollars, ensuring tax dollars work for them.

I again thank the member for Brampton Centre for bringing forward the bill.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-344, an act that would provide the minister with the authority to require an assessment of the benefits a community would derive from a construction, maintenance, or repair project. The bill's author, I am sure, has good intentions behind bringing the bill forward, but we all know where the road paved with good intention leads.

The practical considerations of federal procurement and the effects of more regulations on small and medium enterprises when entering into the federal bidding process cannot be ignored. The federal procurement process is one of the most complex processes in government. It takes months to finalize an RFP, solicit bids, modify the RFP, narrow down bidders, and negotiate a contract, all to finally accept a proposal that could very well be cancelled or delayed. I am not sure it would be possible to design a more convoluted system if we tried, although it appears that the government has been working very hard to ensure that nothing surpasses it.

For example, the bid from Alenia Aermacchi North America weighed some 2,700 kilograms, while Airbus Defence and Space needed a U-Haul to deliver 1,500 kilograms of documents to Public Services and Procurement Canada for the fixed-wing search and rescue bid. Even with such a detailed RFP process, the government has managed to get us sued for not providing proper information to the bidders.

One of the significant reasons federal procurement has become so complex is that politicians have seen fit to increase the number of conditions required before a contract can be awarded. Some of the conditions are to ensure greater financial transparency and are objectively good and practically necessary to prevent corruption. However, some conditions, like those proposed in Bill C-344, are well-intentioned but serve only to make a complicated process more complex. It is one thing to propose that companies submit a community assessment as part of their bid, as per proposed subsection 20.1(2) of the legislation, but it is completely another thing to allow such ambiguous power to sit with the minister. “The Minister may...require bidders...to provide information”, it reads. It is not “always”, but “may”. It is not if the contract is this size or that size.

What better way to open this up to lawsuits than to give the minister such an undefined power? Who is to decide what is the best social benefit? What parameters are to be used to decide if an environmental benefit from one bidder is superior to another but provides no social benefit? Who decides if a slight social benefit outweighs a much lower price and therefore gets the contract? What is to stop the government from using such vagueness for partisan benefit?

Here is a list of investigations of actual issues that have arisen and have been published on the website of the Office of the Procurement Ombudsman. There are 31 posted, and all but five concern issues that would be made worse by such undefined items in Bill C-344. They read:

1. Ombudsman recommends compensation to bidder who was treated unfairly

With Bill C-344, we would have an unclear process.

2. Request for proposal with unclear estimates impacts a bidding process

3. Departmental delays impede a supplier’s ability to submit a bid

4. Were contractual obligations met by the federal organization?

6. The onus to demonstrate how a proposal meets the evaluation criteria...

Again, that goes right back to Bill C-344 and its vagueness.

7. Organization properly awarded the contract, but may have unnecessarily limited the pool of potential suppliers

8. Compensation recommended for a supplier whose proposal was improperly rejected

10. Poorly written solicitations can cause confusion for suppliers

11. Department's approach to soliciting proposals was not consistent with government policy

12. Was a supplier disadvantaged by an unreasonable criterion?

13. A mandatory criterion questioned

15. Excessive criteria for the work to be done?

The list goes on. I am not even halfway through.

16. Department did not indicate the basis of selection to award a contract

17. Compensation recommended for supplier whose bid was wrongfully rejected.

This goes back to who is deciding on a social benefit versus an environmental benefit.

18. Did the department adhere to the terms and conditions of the Standing Offer?

19. Are subject-matter experts required to evaluate proposals?

20. Supplier's bid wrongfully deemed non-compliant on the basis of undisclosed evaluation criteria

21. Did a department act in a fair, open and transparent manner?

22. Were suppliers discouraged from bidding and others given an advantage?

23. Evaluation criteria not applied as stated in the bid solicitation

24. Did the department evaluate supplier bids using the same criteria?

Again, there are no criteria set out in Bill C-344.

25. Mandatory bid evaluation criteria not identified or applied appropriately: Supplier compensated

This goes back to the Minister “may” ask for such information but not always.

26. Did solicitation documents include contradictory wording?

27. Was there a conflict of interest or unfair advantage in the award of the contract?

30. Mandatory evaluation bid criteria based on operational requirements but the rationale not communicated

31. Department did not act in bad faith but need for better communication

What is the cost going to be for taxpayers? In the operations and estimates committee, we asked both the deputy minister and the associate deputy minister of Public Services and Procurement Canada if an analysis had been done of the effects of Bill C-344 on costs from the added red tape and bureaucracy, etc. Shockingly, for a government that goes on ad nauseam about evidence-based decision-making, neither had heard of Bill C-344, nor could they say if any analysis had been done on possible effects on the procurement process.

Seeing as the minister is on leave and her fill-in has been AWOL on such issues as Phoenix, the fighter jet procurement disaster, and the Shared Services paper shredding scandal, it is no surprise to see that this bill has had zero investigation into the ramifications.

I am not the only who opposes adding bureaucratic red tape to a process that is already the gold standard for red tape. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says:

Attempts by small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to access federal procurement are consistently hampered by a confusing application processes, excessive paperwork and a complex system of rules.

One of the CFIBs suggestions was, “Make the procurement process an integral part of any red tape reduction initiative.” Note that it did not say to please add to the red tape.

The practical considerations of more bureaucracy are very real. The procurement ombudsman states that one of the continuing problems is that the complexity of the system scares small and medium-sized businesses away from engaging in federal procurement. In his 2015-16 annual report on procurement, the ombudsman noted examples of complaints from suppliers:

Cumbersome and burdensome solicitations, more specifically the amount of paperwork and time required to respond to solicitations, act as disincentives for suppliers.

Short bidding periods make it difficult for suppliers to respond to the often extensive requirements in solicitations....

Communications barriers or challenges, including in obtaining debriefs from federal organizations on the shortcomings of unsuccessful bids after the award of contracts or concerns about a perceived lack of details provided through debriefs....

Delays in launching procurements, or lengthy procurement processes, are resulting in increased costs for suppliers and federal organizations.

Take each item and relate it to Bill C-344's effects on the process. I cannot see how the legislation would make RFPs less cumbersome, less expensive, or less extensive or provide more clarity. Again, Bill C-344 ignores the existing problems within procurement and will increase complaints from small businesses.

As mentioned, Bill C-344 is vague in that it does not clearly define what constitutes a social, economic, or environmental benefit a community derives.

This problem of disincentives touches on another complaint heard by the procurement ombudsman, who noted that new businesses are unable or unwilling to break into the procurement market because of the substantial knowledge barrier to entry.

I support small and medium-sized businesses and believe that the government should be doing more to encourage SMEs to submit bids, create jobs, and grow our economy. Adding more requirements, bureaucracy, and ill-defined powers are not ways to bring down costs, simplify the process, and address the consistent concerns brought forward by businesses on the procurement process.

The minister's own mandate letter states:

Modernize procurement practices so that they are simpler, less administratively burdensome....

Bill C-344 would move government procurement in the exact opposite direction. The government should read the Prime Minister's own mandate letter to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement and reject this bill.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / 11:40 a.m.
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Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak in support of Bill C-344, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act, community benefit.

Bill C-344 would amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to provide the minister of public services and procurement with the authority to require an assessment of the benefits that a community derives from a construction, maintenance, or repair project. Under the bill, the minister may require bidders on a contract to provide information on a project's community benefits. The minister may also request an assessment as to whether community benefits have been derived from a project.

Finally, the bill would require the minister to table an annual report in Parliament on community benefits provided by construction, maintenance, or repair projects.

In simple terms, the goal of the bill is to ensure that taxpayer money invested in the repair and construction of federal infrastructure is used to produce useful local benefits, such as training, jobs, and environmental benefits.

The goals of this bill are laudable and I encourage all members in the House to support it.

There are three compelling reasons for supporting this bill. The first is that the government should use its spending power to create jobs, promote economic growth, and foster a more prosperous society. Certainly, this is one of our government's priorities and is in keeping with the mandate of the Minister of Public Services and Procurement.

The minister was mandated to:

Modernize procurement practices so that they are simpler, less administratively burdensome, deploy modern comptrollership, and include practices that support our economic policy goals, including green and social procurement.

Bill C-344 aligns squarely with these objectives. If enacted, Bill C-344 would help support the government's effort in leveraging procurement to advance social and green policies for the benefit of all Canadians.

The second reason to support this bill is that the concept of community benefits is already well established in the United Kingdom and the United States and is gaining popularity at the local and provincial levels here in Canada. Bill C-344 is a perfect opportunity for the federal government to show leadership and adopt the concept of community benefits on behalf of the entire country. For example, the concept of community benefits was applied in building the athletes’ village for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.

More recently, Ontario passed the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act, 2015 and became the first province to include community benefits in provincial infrastructure projects, putting emphasis on hiring, training, and buying local. An excellent example of the results of this approach is the construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light rail line in Toronto, a public transit project worth several billion dollars that now includes an agreement regarding community benefits.

As part of that initiative, provincial and municipal partners set the objective that 10% of trade and craft hours required for the project must be carried out by apprentices and journeypersons who live along the public transit corridor and who have had difficulty finding work. The cost is the same, but part of the cost of labour is better directed to advance things on the social front. That project has the possibility of changing the lives of young people, who will then be able to obtain training or a job.

At the same time, Bill C-344 would not impose much in the way of additional procedures on either the government or private sector suppliers. The bill does not call for changing the criteria in the tendering process. The minister's annual report to Parliament would simply provide an additional level of transparency and accountability to Canadians as to how their money is being spent and the positive impact it is having on their communities.

Third, this bill is consistent with the approach of the investing in Canada plan. The Government of Canada is making historic new investments in infrastructure, more than doubling existing funding to build the cities of the 21st century and provide communities across the country with the tools they need to prosper and innovate. Our historic investments are bringing about transformational change in our communities.

An example of a project that brings great community benefit is the Champlain Bridge, which crosses into my riding.

The new Champlain Bridge corridor is one of the largest infrastructure projects in North America. In addition to ensuring the safety of users, the proposed corridor will create thousands of jobs in the greater Montreal area and foster economic growth in Canada by improving the network's connectivity and the continuous and safe flow of people and goods.

Another great example is the Gordie Howe bridge. The Government of Canada is committed to the Gordie Howe international bridge, a strategic trade corridor with our country's most important economic partner. It is an example of the infrastructure investments being made to help grow the economy, create good middle-class jobs, and enhance trade and productivity in our local communities and across the country.

The Gordie Howe international bridge will encourage new investment between Canada and the United States and help to maintain and create thousands of jobs and opportunities on both sides of the border. The new bridge is of vital importance to the economic prosperity of communities and businesses on both sides of the border and is expected to create thousands of construction jobs in Ontario. In addition to the jobs created during the construction of the project, the new bridge will result in many permanent jobs for the future operation of the crossing. As well, it is expected that thousands of jobs will be created in businesses that will supply goods and raw materials for the project.

This is the opportune time to ensure that we are reinvesting in our communities. By investing in the things that help make our neighbourhoods better places to live, like affordable housing, cultural institutions, and recreational facilities, we can build stronger neighbourhoods and communities that we are all proud to call home.

I have had the opportunity as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities to go to different parts of the country and get full feedback from mayors and city councillors, some of the hardest-working people in the public service, and they tell me how important it is to get local feedback and talk about the expertise that exists in those communities and to reflect the needs in our infrastructure projects. We know that the federal government cannot just walk in and invest without consulting and without talking to the provinces. Frankly, the expertise lies in a number of these projects. We rely on them and we need them, whether it is talking to provincial governments, talking to community leaders, talking to individuals as to what their needs are, or talking to our indigenous communities. These are key things, and this is part and parcel of Bill C-344. It fits perfectly within the framework we are creating to build the 21st century.

By investing in infrastructure now, in the projects that Canada needs and in the men and women who can carry them out, we can strengthen and grow the middle class and make Canada a better place to live.

I see Bill C-344 as another way of ensuring that federal procurement helps the government obtain real benefits and results for Canadians and our communities.

I would like to take the time to congratulate the sponsor of this private member's bill, the member for Brampton Centre, for proposing a piece of legislation that is extremely difficult to argue against, particularly in light of his extreme advocacy in the community for the community benefits from any federal investment. The bill's underlying principles and objectives are laudable, and Bill C-344 warrants the support of the House.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / 11:20 a.m.
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Conservative

Alupa Clarke Conservative Beauport—Limoilou, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will continue this debate in French. I wish to inform you that Her Majesty's official opposition will oppose this private member's bill and vote against it.

I hate to rain on anyone's parade, and I know the bill sponsor is not going to like this, but we will be voting against the bill for some eminently sensible reasons that I will explain.

I would like to comment on the member for Brampton Centre's speech. The government's role is to allow everyone to compete. When it grants contracts to third parties, parties outside the government, such as small and medium-sized businesses, big businesses, and organizations, it must ensure that RFPs are written so as to maximize everyone's opportunity. That means minimizing paperwork and constraints, which can be obstacles for some small and medium-sized businesses that want to bid. In Canada, such businesses have fewer resources than large construction companies, for example.

The member said the bill would provide flexibility in granting contracts. That is ironic, because the opposite is true. This bill will make the RFP process, which is open to everyone, more cumbersome.

He also said that this would help communities. I only wish that were the case, but after reading the bill, which contains almost no details and consists of only one page and three clauses, I can find no indication that any assistance will be provided to communities. What will happen, however, is that small and medium-sized businesses will be subject to greater constraints and more red tape. I would like to believe the member when he says he wants to help Canadian communities and municipalities, but that is not at all what the bill appears to do. I say this with some reservation, since that is my interpretation, although it is also how the opposition sees it.

In addition, speaking of economic benefits for local communities, the member referred to the Olympic Village in Vancouver. That was one of the largest projects undertaken in Canada in recent years, and it is hardly the kind of local benefits our colleague was referring to in his bill, in other words, infrastructure such as bridges and so on. The Olympic Village in Vancouver was a megaproject involving huge Canadian corporations that are accustomed to being very efficient and getting sizable returns. They have good relationships with the government and are capable of meeting project deadlines, as was the case for the Olympic Games.

Vancouver's Olympic Village was in fact the worst example that the member could have used to illustrate how his bill would benefit the community, or at least help small businesses.

The member said not once, but twice that this bill would cut down on paperwork and red tape and reduce the number of forms small businesses have to fill; that was the point of the question I asked him. In fact, the opposite is true. The specific focus of the bill is to now make small businesses fill out a form for the minister; the community benefits will therefore be at his discretion. The very purpose of the bill is to create paperwork. It is an incredible thing to say that it will cut red tape.

That was my introduction.

Last week, during my speech on the 2017 budget, I said that the purpose of most of the Liberal bills introduced over the past two years has been to benefit certain special interest groups.

These bills are not introduced for the benefit of Canadians in general, that is, all individual Canadians, but rather to help special interest groups. I believe Bill C-344 to be a prime example of this government’s legislative proclivity.

I would also like to remind members how the bill came to be. It was first introduced by the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship as Bill C-227. It was then dropped from the Order Paper a few months ago, after the member was appointed to cabinet, only to return to it later.

The member said that this bill was significant, fundamental and necessary for Canada in that it will allow communities to make their needs known given the expected benefits of a given project. If that were the case, why is this not a bill that the government would want to introduce? Why is it not a government bill?

While I can appreciate that this is not within the current Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship’s portfolio, why did he not bring this bill forward as quickly as possible? This could have been settled a few months ago. If this were such an effective and important bill, it could have been passed months ago.

The fact that the Liberals removed this bill from the Order Paper and then put it back shows that they likely thought it was inconsequential since there is not much to it. They probably figured that they would just hand it over to some MP so that he could introduce a bill. I know how it goes. It is good to give hon. members the chance to introduce bills, but this bill is essentially going to harm small and medium-sized businesses.

Let me get into the technical details of the bill before it is too late. We in the opposition have identified some problems. There are no criteria in this bill for how small and medium-sized businesses are to respond to the minister's mandatory assessment. There are no criteria, directives, guidelines, or substantive information in this bill indicating precisely how SMEs have to fill out the form.

There is no indication of the criteria, the length of the form, or whether anthropologists and sociologists will have to analyze every little spinoff from the project, whether environmental, economic, or social. What is more, subclause 21.1(1) of the bill states:

...any other specific benefit identified by the community.

I think we can all agree that this could have a major impact on what could be required of small and medium-sized businesses when they fill out the form. For example, if a municipality decides to assess the community benefits for a certain historic group, such as indigenous people, the input of anthropologists and historians will certainly be required. Just imagine if a small or medium-sized business in Toronto, for example, where the member is from, was required to hire anthropologists and sociologists before building a bridge. That is completely ridiculous.

Another problem is that it is left up to the minister's discretion whether a form explaining the community benefits will need to be filled out. The minister will also decide whether or not to present the report on community benefits to Parliament. The bill cannot be that serious if the minister can choose not to apply its provisions. The bill states:

A contracting party shall, upon request by the Minister, provide the Minister with an assessment as to whether community benefits have derived from the project.

I will close by mentioning the worst part, which is that the minister could request a report on the community benefits after the bids have already been submitted and after the SME has already finished the work. However, we know that contracting parties need to have a good idea of how much things will cost before work begins. What the government is telling them is that, after the work is done, they may have to meet other requirements that will cost them more money.

This is a truly a bad piece of legislation as it now stands. It must be sent to committee or even killed because it is just a source of red tape and does not contain any clear directions.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / 11:15 a.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

Mr. Speaker, Bill C-344 just addresses community benefits. Federal infrastructure spending investments would be invested into the local community. From that investment, local communities will get further benefit for the community itself.

The bill will involve government representatives and the local community at large, so this bill will give power to the community to collaborate with a partnership and have their own say about infrastructure. Surely they will feel that they are getting their fair share of the federal infrastructure spending, and they will get it.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActPrivate Members' Business

June 19th, 2017 / 11:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

moved that Bill C-344, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit), be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, I am proud to rise in the House with the support of the hon. member for Don Valley North to introduce my private member's bill, Bill C-344, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act to introduce community benefits.

I would like to take this moment to thank the residents of my riding of Brampton Centre for giving me the opportunity to introduce the bill and for electing me as the first member of Parliament for Brampton Centre.

Bill C-344 would further strengthen the federal infrastructure investment in communities, such as in my riding, and throughout Canada.

I would like to take the opportunity to thank the member for York South—Weston for his extensive work on his previous private member's bill. At the committee hearing, two amendments to Bill C-227 were suggested by the committee. Hence my bill, Bill C-344, is before the house today.

Community benefit agreements, referred to as CBAs, create socio-economic opportunities for local communities and neighbourhoods as well as environmental benefits as a result of federal development projects across Canada. These benefits include local job creation, apprenticeships, affordable housing, education, support for seniors, health care, and other key benefits for communities.

Bill C-344 would amend section 20 of the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act. This would include a provision that would enable the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to require successful bidders on federal projects to report information on community benefits. This provision would ultimately create a platform to minimize possible delays and promote flexibility for community infrastructure development.

CBAs would enable the ministry of public services and procurement to formulate agreements with federal infrastructure developers with added input from community groups. These agreements would lay the foundation to encourage local communities to build partnerships with developers. Ultimately, CBAs would strengthen the socio-economic influence of publicly funded development projects.

For example, in my riding of Brampton Centre, federal investments into infrastructure have greatly contributed to social development in the community. The Züm bus rapid transit fund has revolutionized transit infrastructure across the City of Brampton and has attracted approximately $95 million of federal investment. Further, a federal investment of $69 million in a stormwater management project in Peel region has greatly contributed to improving the quality of life in the community. However, had CBAs been tied to these investments, the overall impact could have been much greater. Communities across Canada rely on federal investments to fund development projects, so if CBAs are tied to these federal investments, communities would thrive.

This was evident in the city of Vancouver, where the 2010 Olympic Village was built under a CBA. This initiative allowed communities to have a direct input on the project.

Bill C-344 would allow for comprehensive consultations with communities across Canada, consequently strengthening local infrastructure investments. It would also reduce red tape for small and medium-sized businesses and further accelerate the approval process for federal repair and construction projects.

Moreover, various business groups and organizations support the concept of CBAs. The boards of trade for Brampton, Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, and various unions, have endorsed CBAs as strong economic policy and an optimal way to promote youth employment.

As a member of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities, referred to as HUMA, I have first-hand experience of the harsh realities of poverty in Canada. This committee has conducted a study with recommendations on a national poverty reduction strategy that was submitted to this Parliament. It is quite evident that CBAs will promote increased prosperity and drastically reduce poverty in communities across Canada.

Further, a joint report from the Mowat Centre and the Atkinson Foundation found that CBAs have the ability to promote a better environment for unique areas. In Ontario alone, the provincial government will invest $130 billion into public infrastructure over the next 10 years. The federal government has committed more than $180 billion into transit, green, and social infrastructures. As such, this is the time to collaborate with communities so they can also benefit from such lucrative federal investments.

CBAs will ultimately enhance the socio-economic development of cities across Canada. CBAs have already been implemented in Ontario with the enactment of the Infrastructure for Jobs and Prosperity Act. This act aims to remove any red tape so that the approval process for provincial infrastructure investment projects can be more efficient.

Furthermore, a number of organizations, including Metrolinx and the Toronto Community Benefits Network, have signed a community benefits framework, the first in Ontario.

The U.S.A. and the U.K. have already adopted the CBA concept into their respective infrastructure investments. In the U.S.A., CBA success stories include the Atlanta Beltline project, the Los Angeles airport expansion, and the Los Angeles Grand Avenue project. One stipulation on these projects was the requirement to submit reports on the benefits derived for communities. Provinces such as Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Manitoba are also in the process of adopting the CBA concept.

Bill C-344 would authorize the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to require bidders to provide a detailed explanation of how government-funded projects will benefit the community. It would also require the minister to report to Parliament on an annual basis on what community benefits have been implemented.

Bill C-344 is about implementing CBAs in the federal jurisdiction. This will give added responsibility to the Government of Canada to exercise leadership in implementing CBAs across Canada. Ultimately, CBAs will create the foundation for communities to earn their fair share of federal infrastructure investment. This will ensure that communities have reliable growth and meaningful employment while fostering a healthier environment.

This is an extraordinary opportunity for the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario to have CBAs preserved in law. This can serve as a model for other jurisdictions to follow. It is about ensuring that future federal infrastructure projects would generate community benefits for all Canadians coast to coast to coast.

I therefore humbly invite all my colleagues in this House to support Bill C-344, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit) so that communities across Canada can have access to enhanced infrastructure developments.

Besides the tangible benefits offered by CBAs, they will also serve as a vehicle for the pursuit of dignity and rebuild the core infrastructure of Canadian communities that are eagerly awaiting them.

May 11th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

For the last year and a half, we've been bringing up the fair wage policy that has been in and out of the minister's mandate. Have you done an analysis on what the cost will be to the taxpayers for that?

The other part of the question is how you reconcile the difficulties of small and medium-sized enterprises in doing business with the government as it is. One of their biggest complaints, of course, is the amount of red tape they encounter.

Has analysis been done on Bill C-344 and the fair wage policy, and how much extra red tape these small and medium-sized enterprises are going to encounter in dealing with the government?

May 11th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Kelly McCauley Conservative Edmonton West, AB

Actually I'm going to move on, because I'm short on time.

Bill C-344, which is just making its way through the House right now, gives the minister the authority to require an assessment of the benefits a community derives from a construction, maintenance, or repair project.

Have you done a cost analysis on how much this could end up costing the government, costing the taxpayers, if this bill passes?

May 4th, 2017 / 9:15 a.m.
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Liberal

The Chair Liberal Filomena Tassi

Okay.

Now, I would suggest that we take a look at these two items separately, to determine whether they are going to be part of the package that we're moving forward.

Since we discussed it first, let's start with Mr. Sangha's bill, Bill C-344. I think we have to actually have a show of hands on this with respect to the discussion that has taken place, and whether it is votable.

(Motion agreed to)

May 4th, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
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Conservative

Jamie Schmale Conservative Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

That's a fair point, since it's the same thing with Bill C-344.

May 4th, 2017 / 9:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Arnold Chan Liberal Scarborough—Agincourt, ON

May I pose a question particularly to Mr. Schmale, given that I believe this originates from one of your caucus colleagues?

Again, you had raised the earlier point with respect to Mr. Sangha's bill, Bill C-344. I want to give the same opportunity to Ms. Boucher. Anything is possible and perhaps a royal recommendation will be granted before third reading, but we know that the potential consequence is that the bill would be deemed non-votable at third reading. If it were to proceed that far down the process and if there were no royal recommendation, then the bill would be deemed to be non-votable at that stage.

As an alternative, maybe we would want to give Ms. Boucher at least some consideration about whether this is still how she wants to proceed or whether she wants to substitute?

May 4th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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The Clerk of the Committee Mr. Marc-Olivier Girard

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you, Mr. Schmale, for your concerns.

To address these, you talked first about Standing Order 86, if I remember correctly. Just to inform the committee members, this standing order actually applies to notices, for instance a private member's motion or a private member's bill, that members eligible for private members' business put on the Notice Paper.

In this specific instance, the standing order doesn't apply, because you cannot argue that, for instance, Bill C-344 was identical or similar to another item already on the Order Paper. Why? Because on January 31, the House of Commons had already withdrawn the bill by Mr. Hussen, Bill C-227. Basically, Bill C-227 was no longer on the Order Paper when Mr. Mr. Sangha wanted to put Bill C-344 on notice. That was your first comment.

Your second point was about a decision of the House being made. The practical interpretation is this. The time of the House of Commons is very precious. The House doesn't like to waste its time on something it has already considered in the past and also voted on or decided on in the current session of Parliament. I interpret this decision as one of the following options: a bill that would be negatived at second reading; a bill that would be negatived at report stage; a bill that would be negatived by the House at third reading; or a bill that would be adopted at third reading for final passage of the bill.

If I take a look at Bill C-227, nothing in this decision actually happened to the bill. The bill was withdrawn when it reached report stage in the House of Commons. None of these options actually applied to Bill C-227 before the withdrawal from the House of that bill.

With that in mind, it's my interpretation, as a matter of procedure, that the decision has not necessarily been officially made. If you follow the spirit of the rule you mentioned on Bill C-227, the withdrawal from the House of Commons of that bill was mostly based on the fact that the bill had no eligible sponsor anymore for private members' business, Mr. Hussen having been appointed as a minister of the crown. It was not a decision made on the substance of the bill.

I'll let my interpretation be the advice I'm giving to the committee, but as a person devoted to the committee, I will emphasize that the final decision lies with the committee itself.

May 4th, 2017 / 8:50 a.m.
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Alexandre Lavoie Committee Researcher

The only item I wish to comment on is Bill C-344. You may have noticed that Bill C-344 is essentially the same as another bill, Bill C-227, which was struck from the Order Paper on January 31. I understand that this bill was dropped from the Order Paper not because of the substance of the bill, but because its sponsor was appointed Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. Marc-Olivier can confirm that it shouldn't be a problem to have this bill discussed again in the House.

That's the only one, unless there are other questions on issues.

Department of Public Works and Government Services ActRoutine Proceedings

April 6th, 2017 / 10:05 a.m.
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Liberal

Ramesh Sangha Liberal Brampton Centre, ON

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-344, An Act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act (community benefit).

Mr. Speaker, I am absolutely honoured to stand in the House, with the support of the member for Don Valley North, to introduce my first private member's bill, the community benefit act, or CBA, regarding the federal investment in infrastructure.

The CBA is the modern way of giving power to communities. This will benefit not only my riding of Brampton Centre but ridings across Canada. My bill will define what community benefits are and how government can collaborate with communities to obtain maximum benefits. The CBA will provide for community participation so they can achieve their fair share of the federal government's spending. The CBA will ensure reliable growth and meaningful employment while fostering a healthier environment.

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