Madam Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak to Bill C-354, an act to amend the Department of Public Works and Government Services Act regarding the use of wood, and to say that the government supports this bill as amended at committee.
I also want to thank the member for South Okanagan—West Kootenay for introducing the bill.
The government supports this bill with the committee's amendments because it aligns well with the government's goals of supporting the Canadian forest industry and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These objectives must be consistent with the government's commitment to ensure a procurement process that is fair, open, and transparent for all suppliers.
The Standing Committee on Natural Resources passed an amendment that the government views as achieving this balance. That is why I call on all members of the House to support the bill as amended. Let me take this opportunity to explain the background of the amendment.
During debate at second reading, we had the opportunity to emphasize the importance of Canada's forestry industry. The forestry industry is one of the industries that built our country. As I said earlier, the industry contributes significantly to Canada today. Last year alone it accounted for $22 billion of Canada's gross domestic product.
The forestry industry puts food on the table for the families of more than 200,000 Canadians. This includes 9,500 jobs in indigenous communities, making the forestry industry one of the leading employers of indigenous people. That is why initiatives like Bill C-354, aimed at supporting the Canadian forestry industry, are deserving of the government's full attention.
The government is committed to fairness, openness, and transparency in the procurement process. These are fundamental values in the policies of Public Services and Procurement Canada.
In addition, witnesses raised some questions and concerns regarding our domestic and international trade obligations during the study of this bill at the Standing Committee on Natural Resources, of which I am a member. I want to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Natural Resources for their thorough review and careful analysis of this bill. I also want to thank my colleague, the member for Markham—Thornhill, who also sits on that committee and who proposed an amendment to respond to the concerns and questions raised by witnesses during the study of the bill.
If I may, I would like to read the amendment in its entirety:
In developing requirements with respect to the construction, maintenance or repair of public works, federal real property or federal immovables, the Minister shall consider any reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and any other environmental benefits and may allow the use of wood or any other thing—including a material, product or sustainable resource—that achieve such benefits.
Ultimately, the committee accepted this amendment and referred it back to the House.
This is a very important amendment. It may help make this proposed legislation more effective and ensure this aspect of our support of Canada's forestry industry is on sound footing. It will also ensure fairness, openness, and transparency in federal procurement.
Our discussion today on Bill C-354 also gives us the opportunity to review the measures our government is taking to help Canada's forestry sector embrace innovation and continue to be a vital part of our communities and our economy. The pan-Canadian framework on clean growth and climate change, for example, calls on all levels of government to encourage greater use of wood in construction.
Research is under way on how the National Building Code of Canada can be updated to allow the use of more wood in construction. The National Research Council and Natural Resources Canada are exploring innovative solutions and carrying out cutting-edge research and development on the potential use of wood in buildings of up to 12 storeys.
Currently there are 500 mid-rise wood buildings in Canada that are either completed, under construction, or at the planning stages because of code changes nationally and provincially. It is expected that this number will rise in the coming years as familiarity with the building code changes grows.
These efforts are the result of broad partnerships, including forestry sector research organizations, academia, industry associations such as the Canadian Wood Council, and federal and provincial governments. Collectively, partners have worked together on research, building codes, materials development, education, and outreach to create awareness and knowledge on wood construction. Our government is supporting this move to wood through innovative projects across the country and around the world.
The Brock Commons Tallwood House is both an engineering and architectural showpiece and an environmental game changer, storing close to 1,600 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide and saving more than 1,000 metric tonnes in greenhouse gas emissions. That is the equivalent of removing 511 cars from the roads each year.
In eastern Canada, the government supported the construction of a 13-storey cross-laminated timber condominium building in Quebec City. The Origine project includes a 12-storey mass timber structure on a concrete podium.
Furthermore, I want to point out that wood and wood products are already essential components that meet the infrastructure needs of the Government of Canada. At Public Services and Procurement Canada alone, 15% of the $160 million for office maintenance is spent on wood and wood products.
Buildings produce 23% of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. The department is working on making government operations more sustainable, mainly by using sustainable materials, optimizing space, and reducing energy consumption at federal buildings. This is part of the government's commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% below 2005 levels by 2050.
It is the first federal department to complete a national carbon-neutral portfolio that takes into account all real property related greenhouse gas emissions and energy reduction initiatives the government has undertaken.
The energy services acquisitions program is a great example of one of these initiatives. The goal of this program is to modernize the heating and cooling system that serves about 80 buildings in Ottawa. This includes many of the buildings around Parliament Hill.
Through this program, we are also piloting and testing wood chips for use as a possible biomass fuel. The results will help determine the potential for using biomass fuels at other federal heating and cooling plants. The department will also meet sustainable performance standards such as leadership in energy and environmental design, commonly referred to as LEED, and Green Globes. These performance standards encourage the use of green products and materials with life-cycle impacts that are economically, socially, and environmentally preferable.
As amended, Bill C-354 would support our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas effects, support the Canadian forestry industry, and ensure the integrity of our fair, open, and transparent procurement process. I would encourage my colleagues to support this bill, as amended.